Deron Williams: Brooklyn’s Offense “Not As Good” As Utah’s

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.

Emphasis mine

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. “

Read more: New York Daily News — Deron Williams not comfortable in Avery Johnson’s system with Nets, says Utah Jazz’s system was a better fit

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.


  1. But why wouldn’t/doesn’t Avery go back to some of the sets and plays that made D-Will successful in Utah?!?

    I’m really frustrated by Avery’s ability to adapt and his lack of ability to utilize his star players talents. He’s going to need to change this putrid, isolation, offense.

    1. Because the flex requires good, passing 4s that can set screens and make shots. Which we don’t really have. Reggie Evans is a good passer, can’t hit a jumper. Blatche can kind of pass well, can shoot, awful at setting screens. Teletovic can pass, can shoot, can’t set screens or defend. Hump can’t do anything right.

      So you don’t have the personnel to run the Flex or the bread and butter of the Jazz offense – the pick and roll. Stockton – Malone / Deron – Boozer have something in common. The skill sets are eerily similar.

      1. Yep good point. Thats why I think that we’re starting to hear rumblings that the Nets are trying to upgrade at the PF asap.

        Let’s get an offensive minded PF in here and then see what D-Will can do.

    1. The system isn’t terrible. It requires more than 20 games to “work.” I think people greatly underestimate Avery’s offense because it hasn’t worked consistently. In spurts our offense is unstoppable, yet some fans refuse to give the guy credit.

      Avery’s offense can be annoying at times (the high 4/5 screens are annoying) but it is effective when executed correctly.

      1. It’s effective, IMO, when we’re knocking dow three’s. But I think it doesn’t really work late in games, or is perhaps too risky late in games.

  2. “It’s possible that Deron Williams would be more comfortable in a Sloan-style, rigid flex offense.”

    Or a Lawrence Frank dribble drive?

    I think I’m just kidding.

    Bring back Calipari!

  3. He tries to do too much. He forces the issue offensively too much, whether it be shooting the ball too often or making ill advised passes. He needs to rely more on his teammates and realize this is not last year’s team, there is talent to pass the ball to, and to help shoulder the load. Needs to focus more on just facilitating the offense and minimizing mistakes.

    1. A fair criticism of Deron is that he’s prone to hero ball. For example, if a lesser PG (or even a PG on his level) makes a great play on the offensive end, you KNOW Deron is taking the next shot.

      First points of the arena? You know Deron is taking the shot. First buzzer beater? You know Deron is going to take shot after shot until he gets it.

      I don’t know if it’s conscious or if players as good/competitive as Deron just subconsciously do this but it’s evident. Outside of those moments I think he overpasses and resets the offense far too often.

  4. Deron has the power to dictate to Avery what the offensive system should be.

    Seems he doesn’t care to do that, unless he doesn’t have enough game left to run that old Jazz offense.

      1. I know that you are being sarcastic.

        I believe that is because you are to afraid to express the real answer.

        Deron isn’t the player he was in Utah, and you are not convinced (nor am I) that Deron really cares anymore, nor are either of the two of us (me and you) convinced that Deron still has the talent he had when he was in Utah.

  5. I was under the impression that Deron had said last year that he DID like the system. But yeah, if its not a fit and he’s not comfortable running it then play the year out with Avery and then get someone else to coach these guys. Too bad he cant adapt but he does seem a bit stubborn….

    but let’s enjoy these W’s, the playoffs, this season, etc etc.

  6. The idea that Deron Williams is past his prime is pretty silly. The eye test will tell you that much. The guy moves like he did in his prime. He’s just having a ton of poor luck shooting, just awful luck.

    As far as offensive sets go – the guy is getting a ton of open looks.

    Let’s give it time. It’s still quite early.

    1. Shall we look at his FG%s, or his assists, stats wise?

      Shall we look at his defensive performances, visual-wise?

      Is this his prime?

      If it is, Nets/King CLEARLY overpaid.

      And we aren’t even talking intangibles.

      1. If you look quickly at the stats at Basketball-Reference, as I just did, what stands out is that FG% has gone down way and three point attempts have gone way up. That will happen to just about anyone who takes more threes, but for Deron it looks like the tendency to settle for 3s is having too much of a negative impact. Maybe he needs more screens, or maybe he just needs to attack the hoop more. With the injuries, his ability to penetrate may be limited.
        Looking at Deron’s body type and a lot of Nets games, I think, though, that he has already peaked, but 90% of his peak is still a darn good player.

          1. People are trying to point to one specific thing.

            But in reality, its a few things:

            1. Injuries, which led to shooting woes, which led to lack of confidence in his shot even when healthy

            2. Avery’s system

            3. Lack of a capable offensive PF

            It’s really not just one thing. D-Will knows that.

  7. Looking at all these comments, I hope the Nets don’t go down the road suggested. The Nets hardly have a PF problem in that in Reggie Evans they have a dominate rebounder, Humphries is average and they could also play the surging Blatche at PF for a big lineup. And it is too soon to give up on Teletovic who was a 20 ppg scorer in Europe.

    So far this season, as the backcourt bricks shots, the Nets are above 500 for one and only one reason, their bigs are playing really well. Now I credit a lot of that production to the smarts of DWill and JJohnson, but however it is happening the bigs are the guys who are getting the ball in the hoop on a regular basis.

    Avery’s offense is simplistic, especially at the end of games, and a little of that is that the bigs aren’t super multi-talented, they do each have a few flaws as pointed out above. But you aren’t going to get guys any better than them very easily.

  8. This title should also read Deron’s offense isn’t as good as it was with the jazz either and it’s not this offenses fault he can’t hit spot up jumpers…. Smh

    1. Combination of injuries, lack of confidence, lack of personnel at the PF, and system are all contributing to Deron’s struggles this season.

      He needs to just go and play basketball.

  9. since Deron’s been here he’s constantly been pouting, whining and/or complaining about something. whether it be the trade, his injuries, the talent around him, the fans, or the coaching system, he has attacked just about every aspect of this organization at some point.

    as a nets fan, it’s irritating to read what williams is saying here. he needs to work harder with the coaches and management if he wants to see his numbers improve instead of vent to the media

  10. How about using crash as the “4” in the flex style offense. He is a great passer, and can pick well too. He doesn’t need to be camped out on the stripe.