After trading away Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, and attempting to unload Vince Carter, it seems as if the Nets have their sights set on the summer of 2010.
Provided that LeBron James becomes a free agent, the Nets will be one of the favorites to sign James. However, there is a lot of basketball to be played between now and then.
Rod Thorn has done a tremendous job making smart trades and drafting impact players for the Nets. First, the trade for Jason Kidd seems like a complete steal. Devin Harris is probably the second best point guard in the NBA behind Chris Paul and Jason Kidd is declining fast.
Yi Jianlian is apparently going to the All-Star game averaging around 11 and six. But he is young and Rod Thorn has done an excellent job building a solid core of young players to attract LeBron. Up to now I'd say the Nets season has been a pleasant surprise because most critics had them battling for the worst record in the NBA. They are in ninth place in the East and in a good position to make the playoffs if they can go on a run.
Devin Harris- A+. Harris is at the top of his game. He is having a career season averaging 23 points and 6.5 assists per game. Right now he is the best player on the Nets and probably the second best point guard in the NBA behind Chris Paul. Right now he is the future of the franchise and probably one of the most attractive pieces needed to lure LeBron.
Brook Lopez- A+. One of the best players in this years draft class. Lopez has blossomed into the big man the Nets have coveted for years. With each game he becomes a bigger threat on both sides of the court. He is averaging over two blocks a game to go along with his 11 points and eight boards.
Vince Carter- A. Vince Carter's time on the Nets is ticking. He has been the key veteran on the team who has helped all of the younger players around him. He hasn't complained about the Nets not being in the hunt for a championship, which is the reason he came to New Jersey. But expect the Nets to unload his salary to clear even more cap room for a big free agent signing and get a quality young player in return.
Yi Jianlian- B+. He is very young and getting better every time he plays. He always had that nice shot from outside but now he is developing into the big man the Nets want him to be. He is so tall and finally learning how to use his height to his advantage. Once he can penetrate with the ball, he'll be the solid starter the Nets need. I expect that to come next season, but so far he has done a good job of helping out the team.
Keyon Dooling- B. Dooling was brought in to be the back up point guard. The Nets needed a veteran with positive NBA experience and Dooling has fit the bill so far. He is averaging around 10 points in 25 minutes on the court.
Bobby Simmons- C. Simmons was brought in to be another scoring option for the Nets and a defensive presence. He has started in 35 games and is only averaging eight points per game. He has mainly been a jump shooter when the Nets would like him to attack the basket more. Needs to step up his game if the Nets are going to make the playoffs.
Jarvis Hayes- C+. Hayes has played as expected for the Nets. He is averaging around nine points per game off the bench. He has shot poorly from behind the arc, but has played some key minutes for the Nets off the bench.
Ryan Anderson- B-. Anderson is another first round rookie of the Nets. He has played very well for the Nets off the bench. He's another big man that can come in and play quality minutes. He is unique compared to other big men because he can drive with the ball. He has done a great job working with Brook Lopez and the former Pac-10 rivals are now best friends on the Nets.
Josh Boone- C-. Boone has been pushed down the Nets pecking order thanks to the emergence of Brook Lopez and the effectiveness of Anderson. His playing time has gone down, but he is still somewhat effective in the 19 minutes per game he averages. I expect his time to go down even more as Anderson progresses.
Overall the Nets season has been better than expected. As Brook Lopez and Devin Harris continue to improve, I think the Nets will be a playoff team. However Nets fans should be excited about the future with three future stars all under the age of 22 in Brook Lopez, Yi Jianlian, and Ryan Anderson. Not to mention Devin Harris' superb play.