|The veteran sharpshooter has been the forgotten man in the Nets-Celtics blockbuster involving Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett|
Jason Terry has a career, per-36-minute scoring average of 17.1 points; shooting slashline of 45/38/85 (FG/3FG/FT); and has made the third-most three-pointers in league history. However, nearly nobody is thinking about right now, even though he was traded to the Nets nearly two months ago in the Pierce and Garnett deal. Overshadowed by his two surefire future Hall-of-Fame teammates, the wily vet has managed to sneal under the proverbial radar on his way into Brooklyn, just the way he and the Nets would like.
Terry, who spent last year with Boston but the previous eight in Dallas with the Mavericks, was a teammate of Nets coach Jason Kidd's for five of those Dallas seasons, so the chemistry is already present between coach and player, in addition to player and player with Terry, Pierce, and Garnett. But the 36-year-old has to rely on more than just good feelings with former teammates in order to make his Brooklyn tenure a success. In order to do that, he'll have to carve out his own niche in the crowded Nets' offense, which already has more than enough playmakers on it.
Between Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko, Andray Blatche, Alan Anderson, and even Mirza Teletovic, there are a ton of Nets who can score points effectively. For an aging, mainly one-dimensional wingman like Terry, it may be tough to make a significant impact on a roster that contains a bunch of players with a similar skillset to his. To his advantage though, he has one quality that most of those guys don't have: playoff experience.
The Arizona grad has played 93 playoff games in his long career, with stats closely mirroring those of his entire career. He also won the NBA Championship with the Mavericks in 2011, as he and Kidd's Dallas squad took down the Miami Heat in LeBron's and Chris Bosh's first season in South Beach. Of course, Pierce and Garnett each won the title in 2008, as members of the Celtics as well.
Regardless of what non-believers in playoff experience think, Terry's gametime in important contests is another thing going way on this team. On a Nets team filled with great players that have yet to see sustained playoff success (other than those that came over from Boston), having a winning player to help guide younger ones through a season as a (hopeful) contender can be highly beneficial. For the Nets to have a good of a season as their talent says they can, stuff like that is going to have to work in their favor.
What Jason Terry brings to the table is more than three-point shooting, toughness, and even playoff experience. He also has a team-first attitude that means he doesn't have to be the star of the show in order to still contribute to wins. A major issue with past Nets teams and a reason that many of them weren't able to seriously contend wasn't a lack of playmaking ability, but a lack of a winning mentality. I loved the Kidd and Vince Carter version of the Nets earlier in last decade as much as anyone, but sometimes they valued a nice show over a hard-earned win.
I'm not saying that I don't understand the entertainment value of basketball or that Kidd and Carter were tanking in any way. I just feel that the NBA's elite teams, that are serious about winning titles, push all-unnecessary distractions to the side when in pursuit of a championship. If Brooklyn can do that, there's really no ceiling as to what it can accomplish in the 2013-14 campaign.
Even if Terry doesn't hit quite as many threes as he used to, or even make as much of an impact on offense as he used to three to four years ago, his presence on this Brooklyn Nets team is a boon both to the players and the coaching staff, as he is a well-respected veteran who commands respect in the locker room. He may be the forgotten acquisistion in the Nets-Celtics deal, but that doesn't mean he won't be important for Jason Kidd and the Nets this season. In fact, he might be their secret weapon.