Jim Mancari, SNYNets.com
With just over one fourth of the 2012-2013 NBA season complete, the Brooklyn Nets sit at 13-10 – good enough for second place in the Atlantic Division and fifth place overall in the Eastern Conference.
There is still plenty of basketball to be played, and the Nets have shown signs of being a capable postseason contender. Of course, the team has plenty to work on over he next three-quarters of a season, but the pieces for success appear there.
So what exactly have we learned from the Nets through 23 games?
Most importantly, the team needs to be fully healthy to be competitive. Brooklyn struggled when either Brook Lopez or Gerald Wallace has missed time, but when full strength, the team has looked great.
Lopez returned to the lineup in Friday and Saturday’s games but only played 24 minutes in each contest. He may still have a minutes restriction, but the Nets’ record during his absence (2-5) shows that the team needs him healthy to succeed.
Wallace, meanwhile, has exhibited his typical “Crash” mentality, but he seems to constantly be playing banged up as a result. However, his energy has thoroughly motivated his teammates.
Brooklyn also has shown that the third quarter has been their nemesis this season. In the majority of their games, the Nets haven taken the lead at halftime only to relinquish it in the third quarter. It seems as though the team’s defense breaks down in the quarter, allowing opponents to get right back in the game or take the lead. This problem was more evident during the earlier part of the season, but it is still concern for Avery Johnson’s bunch.
On a more positive note, we’ve learned that the “Bench Mob” is a gritty bunch that has helped the Nets win games this year. Andray Blatche is a completely different player, at least mentally, than he was with the Washington Wizards, and Reggie Evans is a rebounding machine.
And who would have thought that 38-year-old Jerry Stackhouse would regain his three-point shooting stroke of a decade ago? He’s been a great find for GM Billy King.
Streaky play by Deron Williams and Joe Johnson has also been a theme of the first quarter of the season. Johnson seems to have found his shooting stroke the past few games, so hopefully he can continue knocking down big shots, like the game-winner Friday night in double overtime against the Pistons.
As for D-Will, he’s been an effective floor general, averaging 8.3 assists per game, but he’s gone through stretches of cold outside shooting. But even he seems to coming along in recent games.
It’s certainly been fun to watch this team through 23 games, and hopefully the excitement continues. The team has big games this week at home against the Jazz and at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks in the third round of the “Battle of the Boroughs.”
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.