Mar 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Nets small forward Gerald Wallace (45) brings the ball up court during the first half against the Indiana Pacers at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
Back in the early days of LinSanity, John Hollinger offered this analysis, that the Knicks were doing so well because they had replaced bad players at their worst position, their low performing point guards, with a "quality replacement": Jeremy Lin in place of Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby and Iman Shumpert.
There was a lesson in this for the Nets, wrote Hollinger. If the Nets did that at small forward, their fortunes might improve dramatically as well. That's because no team in the NBA was as bad (or as he wrote BAD, for Below Average Dependency) at any position as the Nets were at small forward.
Billy King apparently agreed with the math and the result is "Gerald Squared" and a steady if not dramatic improvement.
YES has taken to calling the combination of Gerald Wallace and Gerald Green "Gerald Squared". The two, one a 29-year-old known for steady play, the other a 26-year-old known for spectacular dunks, have given the Nets improved play at the small forward since joining the Nets a month ago in Green's case and two weeks ago in Wallace's.
Since Wallace was sent East by Portland, the two are averaging 28 points a game, 15.3 for Wallace, 12.7 for Green, often playing together on court when Wallace fills in for Kris Humphries. With the exception of shooting percentage, all of of Wallace's numbers are up. Green, of course, is a story of redemption. The Nets took a chance on the 6'8" athlete when no one else would. Considering the day before Green joined the Nets from the D-League, the small forward rotation consisted of DeShawn Stevenson, at the bottom of NBA scoring, and D-Leaguer Andre Emmett.
"For us now, we've kind of catapulted ourselves into the top ten in the league. We've gained a lot in that area." said Johnson, talking about the small forward position. A big part of that calculation is how much the Nets have improved their defense, as well as leadership, adds the coach. "Gerald provides defense for us, rebounding, assists. He can guard four different positions."
Green agrees. "On my gosh, he is such a big help to me. He is such a great floor leader as far as our defense. He makes sure we know our rotation defensively. He makes sure we know who we’re holding. He just helps me especially making sure I’m in the right place at the right time on offense and defense. He’s been so big since we got him and I’m enjoying playing with him. I enjoy it."
Indeed Johnson said Wallace's mentoring is a big part of improvement, "When you have one of your players communicating in the huddle, especially with our young guys. now you have he and Deron communicating with everybody on the floor. its taken our leadership level to a whole other stratosphere."
Of course, the trade that brought Wallace to the Nets remains controversial in part because the Nets gave up a top-3 protected pick and because Wallace can opt out of his contract this summer. But at least in the euphoria of his 24-point, 18-rebound, 6-assist and 5-steal game, Wallace likes what he sees.
"The future looks good, if we had everybody healthy," Wallace said after the Nets victory in Oakland. "We have an elite point guard, we have one of the up-and-coming centers ... so our future looks great."
"I’m still trying to figure out everything," he added of his contract status. "We have a lot of guys who are free agents ... but what we have right here is special and tonight just showed what we can do, what the heart and determination of this team is. [My decision] will come."