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Moving into a sparkling new arena in Brooklyn has made the Nets far more prominent than they ever would have been playing in Jersey. This week, Team Prokhorov is learning that increased media attention isn't always a good thing.
The Nets started the season on an 11-4 run, but Wednesday night's loss to the Knicks dropped them to 13-12 on the season – six games behind their interboro rivals in the Atlantic Division. A Brook Lopez injury may have started the current skid, but his absence isn't an excuse any more; Lopez has been back for their last four games – three of them losses.
So what's the problem? A lot of signs point to Deron Williams. The Nets' captain hasn't lived up to his massive contract this season, shooting under 40 percent from the floor and under 30 percent from three. Making matters worse, he's started to gripe about coach Avery Johnson's offense, telling the Associated Press that he was better off in Jerry Sloan's pick-and-roll-centric offense than in Avery Johnson's isolation-heavy attack.
(I guess he didn't think we'd remember that his griping basically forced Sloan into retirement. We remember, D-Will.)
The gripes aren't winning him any friends in the media. Dave D'Alessandro hit the hardest, calling Williams "one evening gown shy of a diva."
In further proof that irony is dead, Joe Johnson has also voiced concerns about the offense. (Iso-Joe doesn't like isolations all of a sudden?)
There are other signs that Avery Johnson is losing the team. In the Nets' first two games against the Knicks, Brooklyn did a tremendous job of disrupting Raymond Felton and basically took the pick-and-roll out of New York's offensive arsenal. Wednesday, their pick and roll defense was absolutely putrid, and Tyson Chandler (7-of-11 from the field) took full advantage. It's hard not to look at that and wonder if effort is a factor.
From a fantasy perspective, Williams owners are in the worst spot. If you drafted D-Will, you probably did so in the first or second round in anticipation of a return to his Utah numbers. Problem is, we haven't seen that level of play from Williams since he left the Jazz. There's little choice but to hope he bounces back, maybe after a coaching change. To trade him now would mean selling at his absolute lowest value. However, I can't help but worry that what we're seeing from D-Will now is his new normal.
Picks for the Week
All percent-owned stats are from Yahoo! Your league's mileage may vary.
Jeremy Lin (89%) – Lin has scored 15 or more points in two straight games. It's the first time he's put together two such games this season. More importantly, many observers believe he's finally starting to develop real on-court chemistry with James Harden.
J.J. Hickson (73%) – How is a starting center with a double-double average available on waivers in this many leagues?
Jared Dudley (64%) – Are the Suns finally settling on a regular rotation? Maybe. Dudley, at least, is getting extended run on a pretty consistent basis now and has scored 20 or more in three straight games.
Jason Thompson (54%) – Unlike his team, Thompson is in the midst of a nice little hot streak and has posted a double-double in five straight contests.
Ed Davis (29%) – Davis is averaging 11.6 points, 7.8 boards, and 1.0 block in five games since taking over for the injured Andrea Bargnani, and he's has been a big factor on the defensive end. Play like this could further motivate the Raptors to move Bargnani and make Davis the full-time starter.
Tiago Splitter (16%) – Splitter has scored in double figures in eight straight games and started at center in the last two games. He gets a nice number of assists for a big man as well – three or more in three of his last four outings.
Alan Anderson (10%) – Anderson has been Toronto's go-to guy off the bench of late and is averaging over 19 points per game in his last three. Does it last? I doubt it, but who knows? If Toronto moves DeMar DeRozan – as I suggested in this space last week – Terrence Ross could become a starter, and Anderson could move up in the pecking order.
Toney Douglas (2%) – Douglas has averaged two made threes per game (in just over 20 minutes per game) in his last five.
Cartier Martin (2%) – Martin is becoming a go-to guy off the bench for the Wizards. He's scored in double-figures in three of their last four games and has been playing about 30 mpg.
Charlie Zegers (@charliezegers) covers fantasy basketball for RotoWire and hoops in general on About.com.