The Brooklyn Nets currently hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference and have gone 12-3 under new head coach P.J. Carlesimo. Even still, there are a few players on the squad who need to step up their play in the second half.
There have been a few guys who have actually produced above what was expected, making the poor play of others seem somewhat mitigated.
Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans have played exceptionally well.
Blatche is dropping 11.0 points per game and has compiled a player efficiency rating (PER) of 23.2. Evans, on the other hand, has grabbed 8.9 rebounds per game for a PER of 10.8.
While their performances have somewhat masked the fact that others are underperforming, it's key that those guys improve in the second half.
If Carlesimo and the Nets are ready to make a run at the NBA Finals, they'll need everyone on the roster firing on all cylinders.
Kris Humphries has been relegated to a reserve role under PJ Carlesimo, even though he signed a two-year, $24 million contract to remain with the team this past offseason.
He's scoring just 6.8 points and grabbing seven rebounds per contest in 21.6 minutes per game.
He was expected to provide a solid, all-around option alongside Brook Lopez this season, but he hasn't lived up to those expectations just yet.
Yeah, it's true; his numbers would be much better if he were given more minutes. But his relative underperformance and Reggie Evans' emergence as a big-time rebounder for the team was the reason for the switch.
With the Nets still winning, there's no indication that a change will be made between the two players.
Though, if Humphries started putting up numbers similar to what he did last season, that could expedite his process back to the starting lineup.
Health has been an issue for Gerald Wallace all season, leading to him missing 10 of the team's games.
When he's been healthy, he's had problems getting things rolling. He's scoring just 9.3 points and bringing down 5.2 boards per contest.
Wallace brings an important dimension to the Nets when he's 100 percent.
On a team that lacks many standouts on defense, Wallace is capable of shutting down the team's best scorer. At the same time, he's capable of providing solid offensive numbers.
His 13.7 PER is technically considered below average, but not by much—a PER of 14.0 is considered to be a league-average player.
Wallace would probably be putting up better numbers if he were healthy, so he'll really just need to stay on the court in the second half.
If he does, there's no reason to believe he won't help the team.
Joe Johnson has been performing much better under Carlesimo—I mean, so has everybody on the roster—but he's still performing at a level that the Nets should be unhappy with.
His PER on the season is only 14.8, making him barely more valuable than a league-average player.
For what he's being paid, and for what general manager Billy King had to give up to get him this past offseason, Johnson needs to be playing at a high level.
He is scoring 17.4 points per game, but that's coming on just 42.9 percent shooting.
Johnson's low shooting percentage could be a result of fatigue, as he's playing a team-high 38.3 minutes per game.
This is baffling when you consider that MarShon Brooks is capable of providing quality minutes off the bench.
If Carlesimo cuts Johnson's minutes by about five or so per game, there's a good chance he stops getting fatigued as the season progresses.
Maybe this could solve his first-half woes.
Deron Williams is already playing much better than he did earlier this season. Many were questioning his ability to lead the Nets as they began their time in Brooklyn, but those questions seem to have subsided for the most part.
Even with that being the case, there's still a ton of room for improvement.
The Nets can live with his 17.0 points per game when their are guys like Johnson and Brook Lopez on the roster, but he should be dishing out more than 7.8 assists per contest.
He also needs to shoot a higher percentage from the field, as his 40.5 mark will not cut it moving forward.
He'll have to stop turning the ball over (2.7 per contest) and play better defensively.
All of these factors combined together have led to a PER of just 18.3, a number reserved for players who are ranked just above league-average guys.
The Nets are already winning consistently with what they've been getting from Williams. Just imagine how well they'd play if he was performing up to his usual standards.