It’s no secret that Deron Williams has struggled in a New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets uniform. Williams went from shooting 46.6% from the field in his career with Utah to under 40% with the Nets. Since his time on the east coast, Williams has dealt with a variety of injuries, but today acknowledged to reporters that his struggles may be more systemic.
“That system was a great system for my style of play,” Williams said of the “flex” offense run by Utah Coach Jerry Sloan. “I’m a system player. I love Coach Sloan’s system. I loved the offense there.”
The comments were provocative on multiple levels.
Williams was widely blamed for Sloan’s sudden retirement in February 2011, just before the Jazz traded Williams to the Nets. And his openly pining for Sloan’s system could be viewed as subtle criticism of Coach Avery Johnson’s offense.
Williams did nothing to discourage that interpretation when he was asked to compare the offense used by the Nets with the one he ran in Utah. “Is it as good as there? No,” he said. “There’s just more one-on-one and isos” in Johnson’s offense.
Read more: Howard Beck, New York Times — Misfiring Williams Takes a Shot at the Nets’ System
“I’ve really had injuries I’ve been dealing with the whole time,” Williams said. “I didn’t have the talent around me I did there. Their system was a great system for my style of play, I am a system player. I loved coach (Jerry) Sloan’s system there, I loved the offense there.”
“I grew up in high school, my coach wasn’t one of those guys who would just throw out the ball and let us play,” Williams said. “We were a system team. We had a stable of plays that we relied on. We were good at execution. In college (at Illinois), we ran the motion offense. A lot of cutting, a lot passing, a lot of screening, a lot of extra passes. I’m used to just movement. So I’m still trying to adjust. It’s been an adjustment for me. “
Williams later said that he and the team were “working on it” and that he feels confident in his ability to adapt.
Earlier today, I wondered aloud about Coach Avery Johnson’s system, more specifically late in games, when the team normally eschews a playbook in favor of heavy isolations. Johnson does have some interesting plays — the downscreen play for Williams that uses his size to screen bigger players and touch to get open looks is one that I think utilizes Williams’s talents well, and takes some elements from Utah’s flex offense and UCLA sets — but the team does tend to play a more open brand of basketball as games progress, which oddly may not play into Williams’ particular penchant for scoring and creating within an offensive flow. It’s possible that Deron Williams would be more comfortable in a Sloan-style, rigid flex offense. He certainly was three years ago.