Avery Johnson was not the answer in Brooklyn, and new head coach P.J. Carlesimo is already fixing problems that Johnson had the entirety of training camp to figure out.
Through just the first 10 games in his tenure with the Brooklyn Nets (through January 15), Carlesimo has led his team to a 9-1 record. This start trails only Lawrence Franks' 10-0 for the best start in Nets' coaching history.
The Nets clearly had problems entering the season, even despite their roster revamp. Johnson knew of the team's problems, but even his best efforts were not enough to get the team on track.
There's still work to do, of course.
Carlesimo can at least be assured that he has the job security necessary to build this talented roster into a force in the Eastern Conference. The problems that he's fixed are the only reasons why the Nets are back in the discussion at this point.
The Nets offense has been stellar over the last 10 games.
Under their new coach, the Nets are averaging 102.9 points per game. Under Johnson, they scored just 94.5 per game.
Output is not the biggest improvement on offense, though. Their overall offensive efficiency has been tops in the NBA since Carlesimo took over.
Since December 28 (his first game as interim coach), the Nets' offensive efficiency is a sparkling 111.2.
What does this mean? Well, per 100 possessions, the Nets are scoring 111.2 points. It's as simple as that.
Brooklyn has had 13 games where it's scored over 100 games, six of which have already come within Carlesimo's tenure.
Safe to say he knows how to push the right buttons on offense.
Carlesimo has preached attacking the glass, as did Johnson in his time as coach. Whatever Carlesimo is saying is working, though, as the Nets have (seemingly overnight) become one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA.
The Nets have recorded more rebounds than their opponents in six of their last seven contests and have out-rebounded their opponents by 5.6 per game since Carlesimo took over.
The star rebounder over the last five games has been Reggie Evans, bringing down a ridiculous 11.2 rebounds per contest. With his increased minutes, Evans is capitalizing and turning the Nets into a better all-around team.
Brook Lopez hasn't been too horrible on the glass over the past five games, either. He's pulled down 7.4 per game, right around his career mark of 7.5.
Deron Williams has played much better under Carlesimo than he did under Johnson. Period.
The statistics show it, and there's no disproving his newfound level of play.
Under Carlesimo, he is averaging 18.0 points, 44.9 percent from the floor and 42.2 percent from three. Under Johnson? Just 16.6 points, 39.8 percent from the floor and 29.5 percent from three.
Not only is Williams playing like the leader of the team, he is acting like the leader of the team.
Carlesimo puts the ball in Williams' hands and allows him to orchestrate the offense—something Johnson did not always allow him to do.
The results are conclusive as to which strategy works better, and the proof lies in the offensive statistics I spoke of just a few slides ago.
He's even more efficient under Carlesimo. His PER (player efficiency rating) currently stands at 22.1 since December 28. Before then? A not-so-great 16.6.
Joe Johnson has been fantastic in January.
His per-game averages are as follows: 20.1 points, 3.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 37.7 minutes. The reason for his sudden improvement can only be attributed to one thing—his shooting percentages.
In January, he is shooting 47.8 percent from the floor, 47.6 percent from three and 86.7 percent from the charity stripe.
Johnson is back to shooting lights out and is finally playing like the scorer that general manager Billy King thought he was acquiring from the Atlanta Hawks this past offseason.
He's also turned the ball over just eight times so far this month as compared to 33 in December and 28 in November.
If the Nets plan to compete the rest of the way, they need Johnson to continue putting up at least similar numbers. It's unfair to expect him to shoot nearly 50 percent from deep, but you guys obviously know what I mean here.
With Johnson and Williams scoring, the Nets are very dangerous.
Avery Johnson was given all of training camp and nearly two full months of the regular season to make several new faces mesh together and form a winner. He was unable to.
Now, just 10 games later, Carlesimo has this team firing on all cylinders.
Williams and Johnson are trusting their teammates, leading to higher assist numbers and more points scored. No longer are they forcing shots. Instead, they are looking to work off their teammates and find the best shots available.
The emergence of Evans and Mirza Teletovic has also been a pleasant surprise. As long as they stay hot, Carlesimo will continue to find them minutes.
The morale has even increased so much over a short period of time that Carlesimo has turned this team into a strong rebounding club—something that seemed unfathomable during training camp.
Carlesimo is pushing all the right buttons, and it's showed since he began his role as head coach on December 28. With all the offseason moves, it could very well turn out that he was the missing piece to a championship team all along.
*All statistics as of January 16