New Jersey Nets: 10 Reasons Why Things Are Looking Up for Deron Williams and Co.
Lately, things have been looking up for Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets.
Sure, the Nets are only 22-43 and five-and-a-half games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and they recently suffered through a seven-game losing streak.
However, all of that means nothing in the long run.
But how, you may ask, is a team's poor performance unimportant?
Well, this slideshow will seek to answer that question, addressing the 10 reasons why, despite their lousy performance in the 2010-11 NBA season, things are looking up for the Nets.
No. 1: Deron Williams
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On February 23, the New Jersey Nets pulled off a surprise blockbuster, trading for All-Star point guard Deron Williams in exchange for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two first-round draft picks.
And by acquiring Williams, the Nets managed to bring in one of the NBA's elite point guards to run their team.
Through six games with the team, he is posting averages of 15.8 points, 14.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds.
Moreover, at only 26 years of age, D-Will could be the floor general of the Nets for years to come.
The only issue lies in the fact that his contract expires following the 2012 season.
Nevertheless, Nets head coach Avery Johnson has confidently stated that he believes Williams will ultimately re-sign with New Jersey, citing his great relationship with the guard.
And with Williams leading the way, things are certainly looking up for the Nets.
No. 2: Winning Streak
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Currently, the New Jersey Nets are in the midst of a five-game winning streak, their second-best stretch of the regular season.
And although two of these wins were without Deron Williams, it is still a clear sign that the new-look team is beginning to come together—especially when one considers that the most recent triumph was over the defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics.
So as the Nets look to finish the 2010-11 campaign on a high note, their inspiring play will likely be a sign of things to come.
Therefore, since New Jersey is looking much better than its miserable record shows, things are obviously looking up for the formerly downtrodden franchise.
No. 3: Brook Lopez
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There are very few centers in today's NBA who are as all-around talented as Brook Lopez.
After a slow start to the year, Lopez has been on fire of late, averaging 24.8 points per game on 56.8 percent shooting during his team's five-game winning streak.
Yet while the 7'0", 265-pounder's rebounding numbers are significantly down from last season, that is no fault of his, but rather, it seems to be a testament to his teammate Kris Humphries' tenacity on the glass.
And at just 22 years of age, Lopez still has plenty of room for improvement as he looks to lead the Nets for years to come.
No. 4: The Emergence of Kris Humphries
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Kris Humphries has made a name for himself around the NBA in his seventh NBA season.
Notching career highs in both points and rebounds, and even averaging 0.4 points per game short of a double-double, Humphries' interior play has helped to alleviate some of the pressure on center Brook Lopez.
Moreover, the Minnesota product's performance helped to make rookie forward Derrick Favors expendable, thereby allowing the Nets to make the trade for Deron Williams.
And by managing to provide a consistent source of toughness and physicality inside, Humphries' emergence has played a significant role in things beginning to look up for his team.
No. 5: Young, Talented Roster
In Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, who are 26 and 22 years old, respectively, the New Jersey Nets have a talented, young duo to build around.
However, the team's stars aren't the only young talent on the roster.
Most notably, breakout forward-center Kris Humphries recently turned 26 in February.
Moreover, 25-year-old wing Anthony Morrow has stood out this season, firmly establishing himself as one of the NBA's better three-point shooters by knocking down 2.0 treys per game on 45.6 percent shooting.
And at 24 years of age, backup point guard Jordan Farmar has been been able to effectively carry the offense whenever Williams, and previously Devin Harris, needed a break.
But that is not all, as the Nets have gotten substantial contributions from do-it-all forward Travis Outlaw, backup center Johan Petro, recently signed Sundiata Gaines and rookie Damion James—all of whom are 26 years old or younger.
And with so many developing young contributors, the potential for significant improvement certainly has things looking up in New Jersey.
No. 6: Avery Johnson
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Prior to the 2010-11 NBA season, the New Jersey Nets pulled off a brilliant move by signing head coach Avery Johnson.
Johnson, the 2006 NBA Coach of the Year, has been impressive this year, as his team has already outperformed last year's Nets with 17 games still remaining.
Moreover, he has New Jersey playing some great basketball right now, helping all of the new faces fit together and achieve their five-game winning streak.
And despite the team's poor overall record, Johnson still ranks 13th all time among coaches with a winning percentage of 65.7.
But his contributions to the franchise have been more than just relating to X's and O's.
Known to be a players' coach, Johnson is reportedly gelling with new point guard Deron Williams both on and off the court—in stark contrast to the reports about Williams' relationship with former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
Consequently, Johnson will likely play a significant role in the Nets' attempt to re-sign Williams.
So, as a coach who can keep his players happy, while also helping them to succeed on the court, the presence of Avery Johnson undoubtedly contributes to things starting to look up for the Nets.
No. 7: Mikhail Prokhorov
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Mikhail Prokhorov has an self-made fortune estimated to be in the neighborhood of $13.4 billion, making him the 39th-wealthiest person in the world, as ranked by Forbes.
However, the wealthy Russian is well-known stateside primarily because of his May 2010 purchase of a majority stake in the New Jersey Nets.
And since then, the former owner of the Euroleague club CSKA Moscow has constantly found himself in the news—whether it was because of his claim that he would win over New York Knicks fans, his billboard next to Madison Square Garden, his pursuit of Carmelo Anthony or his trade for Deron Williams.
Nevertheless, most of the focus on the 6'8" owner has not been very negative, so it seems that his presence is providing the team with more publicity.
And with his money and high-profile personality pumping life into the Nets, things are certainly on the up and up for the franchise.
No. 8: Move to Brooklyn
photo from NetsDaily.com
I'd like to start by making it clear that this is slide is not meant as any type of slight against the state of New Jersey.
With that being said, the New Jersey Nets have much to gain by their move to Brooklyn—which is planned to occur for the 2012-13 NBA season.
First of all, the move will generate more buzz for the team, as they may get a new name, new uniforms and, most importantly, they will be playing in a new, state-of-the-art arena in the currently-under-construction Barclays Center.
Moreover, moving the team to Brooklyn will, to some extent, help the organization to distance themselves from their less-than-spectacular history (especially from the last few seasons).
Furthermore, by relocating, the Nets will also likely win over a large number of fans in the Brooklyn area, while still retaining their original New Jersey following.
And with the excitement surrounding the team's move and all of their upcoming changes and improvements, things are certainly looking up for the Nets franchise.
No. 9: Superteam Potential
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With a star point guard to distribute to ball in Deron Williams, along with an imposing center, Brook Lopez, to get work done inside, it seems like the New Jersey Nets are just once big piece away from becoming a contender.
So with the middle positions in their rotation open, the Nets would definitely look like an appealing destination for a third big-time performer.
Therefore, should they be able to bring in such a player, New Jersey would then have their own big three.
And even though their trio may still be inferior to that of a team like the Miami Heat, the Nets' supporting cast would have a good shot at making up the difference.
Consequently, since the Nets are now somewhat of an attractive team and not too far from contention, things are certainly looking up for them.
No. 10: The Eastern Conference
Despite the Eastern Conference recently stealing some talent—such as Amar'e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Richardson and others—from the West, the East still looks to be the inferior conference.
First of all, playoff teams like the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks have, as a whole, failed to impress this season.
And furthermore, with the Boston Celtics aging and an injury away from falling out of contention, the Miami Heat under-performing, and the future of the Orlando Magic in question due to the impending free agency of Dwight Howard, the New Jersey Nets will likely have a world of opportunity in the coming years.
And despite the fact that they will still have to deal with the young, talented and East-leading Chicago Bulls—and probably the Heat and Magic too—a potential opening for a title run in the future is definitely a reason for things to be looking up for a much-improved Nets team.