People automatically assumed the Brooklyn Nets would be great this season.
Not just good, great.
And while it’s pretty easy to immediately give all the credit for that current greatness to the complementary balance of talent in point guard Deron Williams, shooting guard Joe Johnson and center Brook Lopez, it would be beyond foolish to forget about the man who ensured they would even be members of the franchise this year and for years to come.
That man is Nets general manager Billy King, who should be the favorite to win Executive of the Year honors to go along with the cushy multiyear contract extension he and the organization have reportedly agreed to this week.
It wasn’t too long ago that the Nets were on the verge of having the worst season in NBA history, but were able to narrowly avoid going in down in infamy by finishing the 2009-2010 year with a dismal record of 12-70.
King entered the picture that summer. Then only three seasons, later the Nets are somehow back in the postseason for the first time since 2007, as they won 49 games in 2012-2013 and secured the number four seed in the Eastern Conference.
The organization’s first goal was to give the people of Brooklyn a team to truly believe in in year one after leaving New Jersey. King accomplished just that last summer by convincing Williams to sign a five-year, $98.7 million contract; facilitating the blockbuster trade with the Atlanta Hawks that landed Johnson and not pulling the trigger on the Lopez for Dwight Howard trade that had been rumored for more than a year.
Many were skeptical when King inked Lopez to a four year, $61 million contract in July, but the fifth year center out of Stanford has turned those critics into mimes after not only proving he could score 19 points a game on a great team, but also becoming a force on the defensive end of the floor by posting an average of 2.1 blocks per game.
His first All Star appearance was just further proof of money well spent.
Needless to say, most of the $330 million King signed off on last summer has been spent just as well. No team made the kind of monumental leap the Nets did this season.
After years of misery in New Jersey, King deserves the utmost recognition for constructing one of the NBA’s brightest gems in Brooklyn. If he doesn’t win Executive of the Year, the award will have about as much worth as a $10 bill in a Louis Vuitton store.