Although the Brooklyn Nets have had a great season and exceeded the expectations of many critics, one player who has struggled has been Gerald Wallace. The Nets acquired Wallace at the trade deadline last season and re-signed him to a 4 year-$40 million contract prior to the start of this season. The Nets acquired him hoping that he would be able to continue the offensive production he had given the Bobcats and Trail Blazers, but more importantly give the Nets a player who can match up with their opponents’ best perimeter player on defense. Although Gerald’s defense and intangibles have been good enough this year, his offensive drop-off is definitely concerning.
First, let’s look at some of the numbers:
Career ppg: 13. Last season ppg: 15. This season ppg: 7.8.
Career rpg: 6.2. Last season rpg: 6.8. This season rpg: 4.7.
Career FG%: 47%. Last season FG%: 42%. This season FG% 40%.
Carrer FT%: 72%. Last season FT%: 86%. This season FT%: 65%.
Career 3-pt%: 31%. Last season 3-pt%: 39%. This season 3-pt%: 29%.
Gerald’s numbers are down across the board, and things have gotten worse as the season has gone on. Wallace did have some of his confidence in the beginning of the season, but has lost it. He had more double-figure scoring games in November and December than he had in the entire rest of the season and he has scored only 7 points total this month.
What can P.J. Carlesimo and the Nets do to fix Wallace’s problems? Right now, Wallace is out of the lineup with an injury he suffered in Boston, which could actually be a good thing for his confidence. Over the next week before the playoffs start, hopefully Wallace will be able to go to the gym and just shoot around with no pressure. He needs to slow everything down so that he can relearn how to shoot. Of course, this process may take longer than a week, so what should the Nets do if Wallace still isn’t confident when the playoffs start?
If I’m P.J. Carlesimo, I am still keeping Wallace in the starting lineup. With Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez, who are all capable of scoring 20 points on any given night, Wallace doesn’t need to play great on offense. What they do need from him is his leadership skills and his defensive intensity. He can matchup with almost any position on the floor, which will be very useful if the Nets play the Heat in the second round of the playoffs. If he can continue playing solid defense, as he has all season, he is still a vital part of this team.