Today, Deron Williams told Colin Stephenson of The Star-Ledger that he wants to "be a little more selfish" with the basketball:
Deron Williams promises to shoot more: "My first nature is to get everybody involved. I gotta... fight that and be a little more selfish."
— Colin Stephenson (@Ledger_Nets) January 27, 2012
As soon as I read that tweet, I immediately disagreed with D-Will's intentions, as I've figured the pass-first-shoot-second Williams was a much more effective basketball player. So, I took some action in figuring out if this was actually true.
This season, the Nets are 4-0 in games where D-Will scores at least 24 points. In three of those wins (PHO, PHI, TOR), Deron took at least 18 shots and shot an average of 48% from the field. The Nets also won the season opener in Washington where D-Will shot 8-for-22 with 23 points. As for the big picture, 5 of the Nets 6 wins have come when Deron leads the team in shot attempts and in points.
Just the opposite is true for the teams record when Deron doesn't lead the team in shot attempts for the game (1-5) or in points (1-8). As good as a distributer as Deron is, the Nets wins have all come when he is shooting the ball often. The Nets are 1-2 in games where D-Will has at least 13 assists versus last season when the Nets/Jazz were a combined 8-4.
Okay, so the assist stat is skewed because D-Will has been shooting the ball more this year (16.4 shot attempts per game), than last (14.4 Nets/Jazz combined) and because we are still early into the season. But another key factor has been the surrounding talent around him. The past two seasons, D-Will averaged 10.3 assists, 2 more than he has had this season. In Utah and with a Brook Lopez-fronted Nets team, D-Will had better players who were able score off his looks. This year is a different story, and his assist numbers have dropped. It's also worth noting that this years Nets have shot 42% from the field, while Deron's last three Jazz teams ('10-'11, '09-'10 and '08-'09) shot 47%, 49% and 48% respectively.
Bottom line: because of the difficulty to create shots for a poor shooting Nets team, Deron's assists go unrecorded. Until the Nets get Brook Lopez back, it's probably best for the Nets offense and Deron Williams' play to take more shots and distribute less. Thank you for reading the most math I have done since high school. I stand corrected.