Jim Mancari, SNYNets.com
Deron Williams was once universally considered an elite point guard in the NBA.
It’s no wonder the Nets sacrificed a huge trade package to acquire him from the Utah Jazz and then signed him to a five-year, $98.7 million contract this past summer.
After an embarrassing loss to the Knicks Wednesday, Brooklyn sits at 13-12. Keep in mind this was a team that was at one point 11-4.
When the team was winning, really it was Brook Lopez serving as the main offensive weapon. D-Will had a few good games here and there, but he has yet to get into a rhythm this season.
The question is why.
He said he could adjust to any offensive system after talking so highly of Jerry Sloan’s system in Utah and not so highly of Avery Johnson’s style in Brooklyn.
It seems like what he says and what he does are two different things as of now.
And it’s evident in his stats. Williams is shooting 39.6 percent from the floor, which is well under his career average of 45.2 percent. His three-point shooting is also down, 29.4 percent this years compared to a 34.7 percent career mark.
He’s also lagging in assists (8.2 this year to 9.1 career) and points (16.8 this year to 17.6 career).
Okay, so his stats have not lived up to his career averages through 25 games, big deal. But there’s something up with his play.
He’ll go through stretches of dominance both shooting and feeding his teammates with great passes. But then he’ll try to force shots or passes and create turnovers.
Williams has recently received a lot of heat during the Nets December skid, but it’s important to note that he’s been playing through injury this entire season. Whether it’s the bones spurs, wrist pain or any other dings, he’s not 100 percent healthy.
Yet he goes out there every night and gives full effort, even if that effort has not yielded the results he’s used to seeing.
It almost seems that as Joe Johnson has improved his play over this recent stretch, Williams has declined. And it’s interesting that when Williams went through a stretch of playing well earlier in the season, Johnson was ineffective.
Can the two superstars co-exist on the floor at the same time? Johnson still has received extended minutes with the second unit, which has worked out nicely for the Nets.
Maybe Williams feels he has to constantly feed “Iso Joe” when they are on the floor together, and maybe that hasn’t allowed D-Will to find his shooting rhythm.
Honestly, no one but D-Will knows for sure. But one thing we all know is that the Nets’ play as a team is linked to D-Will’s performance.
As the team’s point guard and leader, Williams will play a key role in either the success or mediocrity of this team.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.