I always wanted to grade someone as a cathartic revenge for all those wrongly-given non-A's in school, now is my chance. Here are the Nets grades for the 2002-2003 season:
Overall Team: A
They won their division & stormed through the Eastern Conference...and even managed to make the Finals a lot closer than most thought they would be, picking up two wins including one on the road. They struggled a bit after the All-Star break again, and missed several opportunities to clinch the best record in the conference at the end of the year...fortunately, everyone else did too except the Pistons, who topped the Nets by one. Didn't matter, as the Nets embarassed them in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Byron Scott & Eddie Jordan did a good job of keeping the Nets going all year, though his substitution patterns were often mind-boggling. Scott seemed more open to suggestions this season than last year, as his patterns and play calling started to evolve over the course of the playoffs. They got the team back to the finals & made a series of it; there's only one step better than that.
Jason Kidd: A
Clutch shooting, great in the playoffs, incredible passer...he started shooting poorly again in the second half, but always had that shot when it was needed. He IS the Nets right now, and continues to reshape the view of this franchise.
Kenyon Martin: A-
Jilted by the All-Star & US teams, he deserves to be on both. He became a star this year, and looks ready to make a jump to superstardom next year. Cut down on the flagrants and turned from a thug-like player into the tough defender we all knew he could be. I just wish he would stay away from the outside shot!!!
Kerry Kittles: B/B-
Kittles did a solid job last season. He was a bit inconsistant, and shot terribly throughout most of the playoffs, but he lasted surprisingly long. He showed that he's not afraid to take it to the hole on occasion. Lucious Harris stole some minutes from him in the playoffs, where it semed obvious that he was pretty much out of gas. We should expect further improvement next season from Kerry.
Aaron Williams: A
The A-Train stepped up big time this season. He showed that he could hang with the toughest centers as well as the power forwards. Aaron gave the Nets everything they could have wanted from a bench player and then some...his clutch shooting and defense put him in the game at some clutch moments during the season and in the playoffs.
Richard Jefferson: A
RJ came to play, no doubt. He's made a strong bid to replace Van Horn, and took some of his minutes in the playoffs. He has incredible atheletic ability, plays a sharp D, and shines on the receiving end of a Kidd ally-oop. Needs to work on his outside shooting, but the energy he inserted into the game whenever he was brought in this year was invaluable. Like Kenyon Martin, he was the runner-up for rookie of the year, and we should see Kenyon Martin-like improvement in his sophomore year.
Jason Collins: B
Collins didn't get much serious time until MacCulloch's injury. He showed a solid game during the regular season, proving that he wasn't afraid to take a charge or make a jump shot. His decision-making at times as shown his inexperience, but time will fix that. Did a solid job on Shaq in the finals, despite being over-matched...we could see Jason turn into an all-star caliber center in a few years.
Anthony Johnson: C+
You can't expect a whole lot from a 10-day contract player signed at mid-season...but AJ had his moments. He was the 3rd player to come up from the Developmental League during it's inaugural season. He'd spell Kidd in the second quarter just about every game, and showed some good aggressiveness and energy. Didn't show a whole lot in the playoffs, and got benched for most of Game 4...will most likely not be back next year, but he seemed to grow under Kidd...we will likely see him in some form next year.
Brian Scalabrine: A
Ok ok, I know what you're thinking. But the fact that he shaved the redhead afro midseason prevents him from earning an A+. Ok, in terms of play, his grade should be more like, say a D, but he got so little time, and almost none in situations that meant anything, so we can only base his grade on his effort & energy. He's usually amonst the first on the practice court, and is the first giving high fives during a time out. He got a great ovation when he debuted in January following an injury, despite the butchering of his last name over the Nets PA. During the Boston series, with the Nets comfortably ahead in the fourth during game 5, a loud & long chant of 'Scal-a-brin-e' erupted until he checked in. He actually has some potential, which hopefully some summer ball will help realize.