2006_01scartera.jpgAfter a sluggish start, the Nets have won 12 of 15 games, including Wednesday's win over Philadelphia. Their recent streak has established their position as an upper-tier team in their conference (they lead the Sixers in their division by four games), but one that does not quite seem ready to handle the best teams in the league. For the first of these two characteristics, they have Vince Carter to thank.

Carter leads the team with 25ppg, and as he goes, so go the Nets. When the Nets lost to Memphis and Dallas, Carter averaged only 16 points through the two losses. Lawrence Frank, their coach, has to be thrilled. For a while, it might seem as though he would suffer from the Nets' stumbling start, but Carter has helped bail out his coach. If the Nets can continue to get solid production out of him, they'll be in line to go deeper in the playoffs than their first round exit last year.