Since we're nearing the end of the Nets' season, I figured it'd be the right time to take a look back and reminisce on what was a great season. Despite a slow start (and slower finish), the Nets were able to acquire arguably the league's best point-guard and have much to look forward to with Barclays Center's completion ahead of schedule and the promise of luring Dwight Howard looming in the near future.
The Nets opened the season strong with a 2-0 start; there were many who believed that Nets would make the playoffs this season and the fast start only ignited the fire. The fire was quickly put out though, as the Nets lost their next five games and never saw .500 again. The team struggled amidst trade rumors surrounding one of the NBA's best scorers, Carmelo Anthony, the team's young and promising power-forward, Derrick Favors, and their disgruntled point-guard, Devin Harris. Despite the copious number of rumors centered on the likely acquisition of Carmelo Anthony by the Nets -- with two separate trades being deemed as a "done-deal" twice -- it never came to fruition. Anthony joined the Nets' cross-river rivals, your New York Knickerbockers. All was not lost though, as Nets GM Billy King was able to swing a deal for the Jazz's Deron Williams for what was less than what the Nets were reportedly giving up for Carmelo Anthony. Nets fans were ecstatic, the future looked bright and all signs pointed towards Deron Williams remaining with the team past the conclusion of his deal. The Nets played out the remainder of season, in hopes that the following one would be drastically different as Williams would be able to attract impact players to join him bring the Nets into Brooklyn.
All in all, it was a great season: The Nets had traded for the league's best point guard, Kris Humphries showed marginal improvement and is likely to remain with the team, Brook Lopez overcame his early struggles to finish the season on a relatively strong note, Nets fans were given the privilege of watching Travis Outlaw and Johan Petro on a nightly basis, but most importantly we were graced by Stephen Graham's presence. All that needs to be known about Mr. Stephen Graham can be seen in his nickname -- GrahaMVP. The decision to anoint Graham as the team's MVP for the 2010-2011 season was unanimous amongst Nets fans. We all know that we were lucky to even take part in the pure awesomeness that is -- Stephen Graham.
From his clutch-shooting:
To his renowned defense:
To his relentless penetration:
To his mentorship of the team's young players:
There's no doubt that Graham was the Nets' most valuable player. Not only did he produce at an elite level on the court, but he also provided the leadership and hard-working mentality inside the locker-room that coach Avery Johnson believed he could bring when he made the controversial decision to take his talents to Newark. It's just a shame that the Nets won't be able to bring him back next season; Graham is a free-agent this offseason (apparently, the Nets have a team-option, but that's not as fun) and with the pool as thin as it is, it's likely that he'll command a near max-salary. The Nets just can't afford to retain him when they have another star at his position in Travis Outlaw.
Let's just take a look at Graham's numbers to put into perspective how good of a season he had:
PPG - 3.2
APG - 0.7
RPG - 2.1
BPG - 0.0
SPG - 0.2
eFG% - 0.408
PER - 4.19
VA - (-87.3)
WS/48 - (-0.017)
AND-1's - 576
Amazing. To think that he was able to give the team 576 AND-1's in one season is just mind-boggling. We'll miss you Stephen Graham and we'll always remember that we...
... Were all witnesses.