The developmental year, as it had been called over and over by general manager/interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe, is seven games from being over and some development is needed still.
Some players did better than expected and others showed signs of improvement but then faded. In a lost season like this, all the players should have improved or least gotten the chance.
But this was a bizarre year in so many ways, and there were times young players weren’t getting the shot they should have. It was one of the many mistakes of this season.
Courtney Lee: Quietly, the second-year guard has had a solid season with his defense and shot-making ability. He can’t replace Vince Carter, but Lee’s work ethic and continually-improving play is a reason for optimism for the future. Put better players around him that demand more attention and he can hurt teams with his shooting. He’s also someone who teams would be interested in, although he doesn’t make enough money to get back someone high-priced, so he would have to be packaged.
Terrence Williams: No one doubted his skills, but he needed to mature and he has. Still, his playing time shouldn’t have been as erratic as it was. Williams’ play over the last month has to excite the Nets organization. There are only so many players who can fill up the stat sheet –- and defend –- the way Williams does. If he keeps working on his shot and continues to mature as a person and a player, the Nets have a versatile young player who can man three positions.
Kris Humphries: If he has a strong finish, he could choose to opt out of his contract, which would give the Nets an additional $3.2 million for free agency. If not, the Nets have a hard-nosed, physically-tough player who likes to mix it up inside. He’s going to have more rebounds in 45 games with the Nets than each of his previous five full seasons. Acquired from Dallas, he was given more of an opportunity than before and gave the Nets an inside toughness they needed.
Brook Lopez: At times, he’s looked like he could be one of the most dominant big men in the league. But too many times the Nets inexplicably forgot about him late in games –- mistakes by coaches and the point guard. And frustration hurt his play sometimes. Lopez should have been in the running for Most Improved Player, but too many losses and too many games he was overlooked cost him. He has gotten better, but there were some stretches until recently where he appeared to regress.
Chris Douglas-Roberts: From the exhibition games through the first two months of the year, it looked like he could be a Most Improved Player candidate. But Douglas-Roberts let too many things affect him –- losing, playing time, etc –- and has really regressed. He should have been playing more, but the way Williams took off, Douglas-Roberts’ minutes suffered. He has a team option next season for $854,000. He’s a bargain at that rate, will return with a chip on his shoulder and if the Nets win more and have more direction from the bench, maybe Douglas-Roberts will revert back to earlier in the season.
Yi Jianlian: He came back from his early season injuries with a vengeance and then fizzled. Some numbers are skewed because he was playing in the fourth quarter of blowouts and getting plays called for him. Overall, aside from a few spectacular games, Yi has been inconsistent and hasn’t improved nearly enough to the point where the Nets should want to hold on to him. He is the current starter on the shakiest ground since power forward is a position they’re likely to address, whether it’s in the draft or free agency. Remember: Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and David Lee are on the Nets’ list.
More was needed
Devin Harris: He took a step back after being an All-Star and one of the most explosive scorers last season, but injuries and the fact that Lopez has become more of a focal point contributed. Harris has been much better over the past six weeks, but the Nets needed more all season, and for a variety of reasons, he didn’t provide it.
Josh Boone: Has had some good games when given time, but last year’s opening-night starting center is fourth on the depth chart and never seemed to force his way back in there. He will be a restricted free agent, and it’s doubtful the Nets will match offers.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)