With Yi Jianlian, Bobby Simmons and Eduardo Najera all on the shelf and Vince Carter dealing with injuries of his own, the Nets may need this break more than any other team in the NBA.
Sure, they don’t have the injuries of some other teams in the league, but the bench especially has been hurt at times, which in effect has kept the team under .500 and without a semi-regular lineup on the court that can gel and grow together.
However, Simmons’ problems shooting ball this season have hurt the team and having him out of the lineup have given the more dependable players on the team like Jarvis Hayes and Keyon Dooling more of an opportunity, making it almost like a blessing in disguise.
In the case of Najera, I think it’s fair to say that he has been very productive in the 12 minutes a game he’s been averaging this season, but with the continued progression of both Brook Lopez as a starting center and Josh Boone and Ryan Anderson as a dependable bench player, the need for Najera on the court hasn’t been a huge one. As a matter of fact, the people who originally questioned the money Najera was getting have plenty to argue about now, considering he’s been less than a spare part on this team thus far.
That isn’t the case Jianlian however, who was just starting to come around and be the player the team needed before he broke his right pinky. During his time off, he’s done everything from lamenting to the press about how he hated being on the sidelines while the team was going through a rough patch, to working with Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe on developing his dribbling skills with his other hand and going through a shooting regimen.
Now I know what some of you are thinking. Having the 10 points a game that Jianlian scores a game out of the lineup hasn’t affected the Nets too badly, but when you consider the fact that he was averaging over 15 in his last four games before the injury, it’s obvious the Nets could use that type of scoring. Luckily for them, he should be back in the lineup shortly.
“After the break, I think I can play,” Yi told the Associated Press a few days ago. “I’m ready. It’s feeling fine—just a little sore, but no swelling. Shooting, dribbling, no problem.”
While Carter hasn’t been plagued with the same type of injuries as the aforementioned players, it’s fair to say that he’s been banged up most of the season. Giving him a weekend to just relax is exactly what this team needs right now.
One game out of a playoff spot with 29 games left to go, one player the Nets can not afford to have out of the lineup is Carter.