I remember when I did my season preview piece this season and I projected the team would win 33 games and come in tenth place, scoffing at places like the Yahoo Sports Basketball Blog that predicted the team would come up with a paltry 18 wins.
Nonetheless I understand where most of these places were coming from at the time. Small payroll, unproven young talent, what did you expect, a championship?
Highly unlikely, even to the most ardent Nets fan.
With four games left this season however, while the Nets have 32 wins and are two games out of tenth place, they have exceeded the expectations of many.
Who would have thought? Me, that’s who.
Am I good or what? Well, let’s be fair here. I’m alright.
I don’t think anyone could have expected Devin Harris to play as well as he has this season and at the same time, many of the youngsters have shown that they have the potential to be useful players in the future.
Because of that, the New Jersey Nets should be proud with what they accomplished this season and should feel good about the direction they are going in.
“We have some nice pieces in place to win. But obviously we have a ways to go,” veteran Keyon Dooling told the Associated Press. “You can tweak a roster here and there, or you can get one player, and that can take you. Look at Boston. You bring KG in and bring Ray Allen in, and they’re the best team in the league. We’ll see. Maybe we’ll get something good in the draft, or a free agent pickup that will get us over the hump.”
However, unlike the Celtics, I think the Nets have some of the pieces on their roster already. Over the past three weeks, Chris Douglas-Roberts has shown that he can thrive with more responsibility and I still have faith that Ryan Anderson can be productive as well. However, more than anyone, I think Brook Lopez has the makings of an excellent center that will eventually be someone who will not only score 15 points a game, but someone who can average a double-double every night.
“He’s exceeded what we expected,” Nets coach Lawrence Frank told the AP. “Even going in, to seeing him from summer league to seeing him from training camp, he’s exceeded expectations.”
So while missing out on the playoffs for a second season in a row may be a tough pill to swallow for most fans of this team, the future is still a bright one.
Photo by Bill Menzel.