Saturday, December 14, 2013

Brooklyn Nets: In Search Of The Elusive Flatbush Double-Double Man

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

For Deron Williams, This Window Of Opportunity Has The Potential To Close Fast.  Therefore, Time Is Of The Essence.

The Nets are 2-1 since Deron Williams' return, highlighted by a 102-93 victory over Chris Paul, and the L.A. Clippers.  In his three games back, Deron is averaging 35 minutes, 6.6 assists, and 21 points per game.  He has connected on 21/38 from the field, for a 55% shooting percentage.

In his first game back against the Celtics, he played 37 minutes, and scored 25 points, with 7 assists.  In the next game against the Clippers, Deron faced off against Chris Paul, the NBA's assist leader.  Williams played 27 minutes, and was only 4/9 from the floor.  He had 4 assists, and scored 15 points.  Chris Paul meanwhile, was limited to only 2 assists - 10 below his season average.  But Paul did score 20 points in 28 minutes.

In both victories, the Nets largely benefited from having both Deron and Brook Lopez on the floor.  Lopez scored second behind Williams with 24 points against Boston.  He was off to another good game against the Clippers, with 16 points inside the third quarter.  That's when he rolled his ankle, and has been out since.  Brook sat out against the Pistons, as the Nets fell in Detroit by a close 103-99 final.  Outside of a questionable call by the ref down the stretch, there's no doubt Brook could have made the difference.  Deron Williams wound up playing 41 minutes, and scored 22 points, and issued 9 assists.  If I didn't mention it, Chris Paul averages 12 assists.  I digress.

The Nets clearly need both players in the starting line-up.  Brook, Deron, along with Joe Johnson are the core.  Over the first two games of Williams' return, his game seems unaltered by Jason's Kidd plan to play through Lopez, and give Joe Johnson his isolations.  Instead, Kidd may have finally struck a balance.

But all that has to wait now.  Ankle problems linger, and linger.  They are the uninvited guests who don't know when to go home.  Deron is back, but has merely tag-teamed off to Lopez.  For as long as these two play on ballerina ankles, and alternate time on the floor, the Nets live a precarious NBA existence.

The Nets haven't nearly heard or suffered the slings and arrows they really deserve.  Luckily for them, the Manhattan Knicks are worse, and have deflected a measure of attention away from Brooklyn.  And being that the majority of the Eastern, truly derisive analysis has additionally been avoided...., for now.

Deron Williams had no training camp to speak of, and still played in 9 of the Nets first 11 games this season.  He then suffered his most recent sprain against the Bobcats on Nov. 20, and wound up missing the next 9 games.  As stated, he has played 3 games since returning.  In all, he has missed 11 of the Nets 23 games this season, and played in twelve.  With Deron on the floor, Brooklyn is 5-7, and without him, they fall to a 3-8 record.  Not incidentally, the Nets are 6 games below the .500 mark.

Deron Williams has been a Net since 2011, and played 12 games to close out that season.  In 2011-2012, the last season in New Jersey, he only played 58 games.  To date, Deron Williams' only full season with the Nets came last year - the Nets first in Brooklyn.

In those initial 12 games with the Nets back in 2010-11, he briefly averaged 12.8 assists per game, and has never come close to that again.  In fact, his assists have dropped in each season since.  In '11-'12, he posted an 8.7 assist average.  Last year, he dropped to 7.7 assists per game.  In 12 games so far this season, he is averaging 6.2 assists per game, but his 36-minute average says he's up to 8.3 per game.  In the Nets most recent game against Detroit, D-Will had 9 assists in a game for only the second time this season.  The first occasion came on opening night versus Cleveland.  Only one time this season has Williams posted double-digit assists, with 10 against Indiana.

For his career, Deron Williams now averages 8.9 assists per game.  But in Utah, and over four straight years leading into the trade to New Jersey, he averaged double-digit assists.  In fact, he was a double-double man for those four seasons.  Between 2007-08 through 2010-11, Deron averaged 73 games, and 19.3 points per game.  To his credit, he set his career mark of 21 ppg with the Nets two seasons ago.

Now, even more than last year during Brooklyn's first all out effort to play with the NBA elite, the Nets need Deron Williams to become that player again, and do so with this particular cast.  And why not?  Deron Williams signed-on to spend his prime years here.  He will not turn 30-years old till next June. 

However, for the Nets and Deron Williams, time is indeed of the essence.  This window of opportunity is otherwise becoming a questionable proposition, with the potential to close fast.  Who's to say Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett remain professionals, and finish the season in good faith, but then promptly retire at season's end?  Again, I ask why not?  This was only a two year window to begin with.  And we know Billy King is not one to sit still.


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