Signs of Life: Nets Take London

Who would have thought that a pair of NBA games in London would prove to be so much fun?

The New Jersey Nets, fresh off a trade that moved Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two first round picks and 3 million dollars to the Utah Jazz for franchise point guard Deron Williams, took both games of the NBA in London series vs. the Toronto Raptors.

In the first game, held Friday, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez combined for 43 points, while Humphries earned 17 rebounds. Williams contributed 16 points and 11 assists, while Jordan Farmer and former D-Leaguer Sundiata Gaines sparked a 20-6 run in the fourth quarter to lead the Nets to their first victory after the Williams trade.

While it was a fun game, it would prove to be just an appetizer for the London crowd.

Saturday night’s match up featured 273 points of offense in what became a 136-137 triple-overtime win for the Nets. Brook Lopez had his best game of the season with 34 points, 14 rebounds and 8 blocks, while Humphries earned 18 points and 17 rebounds. Williams picked up 16 points and gave out 11 assists (Williams has averaged 15.2 assists per game in his five games as a Net).

If you didn’t get a chance to see the game, you owe it to yourself to check out the highlights:

NBA Highlights from the triple OT thriller in London (NBA You Tube)

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is still plenty of work to be done before the Nets can really start making noise in the East, but in the game against the Suns, and in the two games against the Raptors in London, the New Jersey Nets showed significant progress on the offensive side of the court.

New Jersey Nets Offense (Pre and Post Williams Trade)

Games W/L FG FGA 3P 3PA AST STL REB PTS
Pre-Trade 57 17-40 34.5 78.8 5.2 15.1 19.7 5.2 40.8 92.4
Post-Trade 5 2-3 41.8 90.4 7.2 21.8 28.2 6.4 47.4 112.0

One could point to the addition of Deron Williams into the Nets offense as the catalyst of this change, but I think even he would tell you that’s only part of the story.

The reality is that Avery Johnson is seeing improvements from a variety of guys on the offensive side. Brook Lopez is averaging 24.2 PPG and 8.2 RPG from .538 shooting since the trade, up from 19.4 and 5.8 from .475. Kris Humphries has seen a jump from 8.8 PPG/9.3 RPG to 15.8/13.2 and Anthony Morrow has improved from 12.5 PPG to 16.0.

It’s a good sign of things to come, but before anyone starts getting too excited, it’s probably worth pointing out that all this improved offensive merriment is applicable to the Nets opponents as well.

New Jersey Nets Opponents (Pre and Post Williams Trade)

Games W/L FG FGA 3P 3PA AST STL REB PTS
Pre-Trade 57 40-17 36.1 79.1 6.2 17.0 21.6 6.7 40.8 98.6
Post-Trade 5 3-2 42.0 90.4 7.4 18.4 27.2 7.0 44.4 114.4

For what it’s worth, Williams’ former team has also only won 2 games since the trade, and has also seen a surge in points given up and FGA allowed. Still, it’ll be difficult to build a winning system with the Nets giving up 114 points a game.

But for now, the past five games have shown a team starting to make their way in the right direction.

P.S. If you’re among the many Nets fans excited at the arrival of Williams, you’ll like enjoy this: Deron’s 1st Home Game as a Net (You Tube).

Pumped about D-Will? Excited about the Nets future and want to talk about it? Follow me on twitter (@kobesmokey), or sign up to blog on From Russia with Dunk, part of the Fansided network.

Topics: Avery Johnson, Brook Lopez, Coach Johnson, Deron Williams, Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Jordan Farmar, Kris Humphries, New Jersey Nets, Sundiata Gaines, Toronto Raptors

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