December 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm #51044
There are a number of reasons as to why D-Will has struggled ever since coming to the Nets 3 seasons ago. Of course these are simply my opinions, but I will use statistical data to try and back those opinions up.
Reason #1: Avery Johnson
For me, the biggest reason for D-Will’s struggles on offense during his Nets career are because of the coach. I’m not an Avery hater, but it’s become apparent that there is something that D-Will has done a lot less of since coming to the Nets — pick and rolls. In Deron’s first “season” as a Net when he was traded here back in 2011, he played 12 games until he had to be shut down for the season due to wrist troubles. If you can recall in those 12 games, Aver Johnson said that, in order to make Deron feel comfortable with the offense, that they were going to use a lot of Utah’s plays. Of course in Utah, Jerry Sloan’s offense essentially revolved around the pick and roll with his point guard (D-Will) and a big man (Boozer). It’s how Deron became the superstar that he is. He mastered the pick and roll, which not only gave the big man easy shots, but gave Deron himself a ton of high percentage looks as well. As Mike Dantoni, one of the best offensive minds in the game has said before, the pick and roll is one of the most efficient plays in basketball. When the Nets used Utah’s offense in order to make D-Will comfortable, it should come at no surprise that in those 12 games, Deron averaged 12.8 assists per game and managed to record a 17 assist game, two 18 assist games, and even a 21 assist game. Even though Deron recorded a 20 assist game last season, the next highest total was 15, and on this young season, his highest total is 14. Coming into last season D-Will and Avery knew that Deron would have to carry the offense load most nights and Brook Lopez’s injury furthered the belief in that idea throughout the season. Yet, last season, there was no more “Utah offense.” Now it was Avery’s offense that Deron would be running. Understandably so though, Deron Williams was basically made into a SG as he averaged a career high in three pointer’s attempted last season (6.2) and thus a career low in FG% (40.7%). Yes, Williams still had nagging injuries to his calf, and wrist, but last year was the first time in D-Will’s career that he was asked to move away from being a pick and roll, passing PG, and asked to move into more of a scoring, coming off screens, catch and shoot type of role. Again, it was excusable simply because of Lopez’s injury and the lack of an offensive big-man. This year though, is a different story. This year, there haven’t seem to have been any injuries or ailments (besides the ankle, which we assume doesn’t affect his shooting) that we know affect D-Will’s shot on a nightly basis. We do see him get banged up often but I would have a hard time believing that all of those banged-up type injuries have affected him the whole season. They certainly aren’t the main cause of his dismal 38.8 FG%. So what is? Well, in my opinion, it is once again, Avery Johnson’s inability to adjust to his star point guards best attribute — the pick and roll. Very rarely will you be watching a Nets game and see a Lopez-Williams, high pick and roll; a combination that would seem to get both Deron’s shooting percentage up and his assists up. If anything, we have seen a Williams-Humphries pick and roll which usual turns out well…for the other team. Until Avery can implement some pick and roll’s with Deron and his big-men then I think D-Will’s struggles will continue. Right now (and maybe never), Deron is not the type of player Avery has set him up to be; three point shooting, coming off screens, scoring type of player.
Reason #2: Lack of a starting PF
This is pretty simple and obvious. The Nets don’t have a starting PF. Reggie isn’t one and Humphries certainly isn’t either. We saw how successful Williams was with Boozer in Utah, and we’ve seen how unsuccessful the Humphries-Williams pick and roll, play of of each other, is. Right now, it’s up to Billy King to try and get a starting PF on this team as soon as possible.
Here are some numbers comparing Deron Williams as a member of the Jazz and Deron Williams as a member of the Nets:
(The Jazz #’s don’t include his rookie year)
3.4 3P FG attempts per game
35% 3P FG%
As a member of the Nets:
6.0 3P FG attempts per game
32% 3P FG%
Some pretty alarming differences. I think if these two things change (we get a starting PF and Avery runs more pick and roll’s), Deron Williams will not only return to his elite status, but we will be a deadly offensive team.December 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm #51055
Words are nice.
But watching Deron play provides more facts.December 17, 2012 at 12:44 am #51074
We don’t see any ailments that alter his shooting ability? He is riddled with injuries. And Not running an efficient pick and roll offense may indeed cause some of his shooting woes, but it would not explain the three point deficiency. He is taking more threes than he did in Utah, but not more than he has in his time in Jersey (as you explain). His 3 point percentage is far off his career averages, and cannot be explained away by Avery’s role for D-Will in this offense.December 17, 2012 at 1:44 am #51075
A 3% difference in 3P Fg% is a big difference from his Jazz days to the Nets?
Also, at this point, if he’s being bothered by injuries and they’re affecting his play, he would sit or say something. Or at least the team would say something.
He is just not this type of player that Avery wants him to be. He takes too many forces shots, especially when the shot clock is winding down and he has to go into isolation mode.December 17, 2012 at 11:41 am #51120
I’m going to throw out a slightly different perspective here:
Is it ludicrous to suggest that Deron Williams is simply not dedicated enough at this stage in his career? Before everyone takes up arms and gets furious, just hear me out. Just a couple random observations and thoughts here: (and in regards to him possibly playing injured and that throwing off his shot, I believe all NBA players play nicked up to some extent during the season, and until I hear that there’s a real injury to blame for his game, I’m going to look past it as a relevant enough excuse.)
1. Bad Habits: Over the past couple seasons, I believe Deron got used to playing some (ok, quite a few) meaningless games in NJ and being ok with losing. What we saw happen was him start giving visibly less than maximum effort on the court. Those bad habits are hard to break and we’ve seen glimpses of it this season as well. As nets fans can attest, poor body language, matador defense have become his calling card – could it be that those habits have become hard to break, even now, playing in Brklyn on a playoff team? Maybe he always thought he could ‘turn on’ the effort when he would need to, and is now finding it harder to get his mojo back on a consistent basis. Outside of when playing against rivals like CP3 and teams like the Knicks, he doesn’t seem to bring the requisite effort every night to compete consistently in this league. (i.e. in the video recap against the bulls, look at his effort around the 2:20, 2:30 mark http://thebrooklyngame.com/video-nets-bulls-highlights-recap/)
2. Complacency: I don’t think it’s ridiculous to suggest that Deron might have become complacent over the past couple years. Having been named an all-star, won gold with the Olympic team, and received a max contract, could it be that he’s simply OK with where he is as a player? Obviously, not bashing the man’s personal life, but seems like he’s enjoying the NY life pretty well, and spends a lot of time with his family. For example, after missing the game winning shot in Chicago saturday night, looks like he flew out to Dallas to spend the Sunday attending the cowboys game with his family and friends. Sure, it’s his own business what he does on his own time, but you can’t tell me other comparable ‘leaders’/top-tier PGs like Rose wouldn’t be the gym trying to work on their jumpshot if they were going through a similar season long shooting slump.
To get to being the superstar Deron was in Utah, I’d had to believe that, at some time, he was a gym rat and a guy dedicated to improving his game. To prove himself in the league when he first arrived, I heard that Deron worked relentlessly on his game and his numbers over his first 3 years at Utah all reflected that (FG%, assists, stls/blks all increasing incrementally each year).
Deron isn’t old. While we don’t see some of the above-the-rim athleticism of his younger days, right now, I’m seeing someone who’s not in game shape and is rusty on his offensive game. When I got to the Chicago game on saturday 2 hours before tipoff, everyone came out to shoot and practice a good hour to two hours before gametime. Joe was the first one out there, breaking a full sweat and working on his game for a full hour and half. Him and Stackhouse (!!) were out there for the longest, working on plays together and getting shots up from everywhere on the court. Deron was the last one to make an appearance, coming out of the tunnel just 40 minutes before the game. He was out there for 15 minutes getting a few shots up, but mostly chatting with people on the sidelines (greg anthony was one). Obviously, this is a tiny sample and it could very easily be that he’s usually be the hardest worker in other practices and shootarounds but this was just another alarming piece of evidence for me.
Right now, he doesn’t have the quickness and the legs to get to the rim at will for higher percentage layups, doesn’t have his legs under his jumpshots (you’ll notice that he doesn’t get lift on his shots, thus has to fade away from his defenders a lot. Also on spot ups, he’s short on most missed jumpers, a sign of tired legs), and doesn’t have the stamina to give maximum effort on defense. (as per his defensive problems, it’s either bad habits of not playing hard, or not having the endurance to play consistent D for 35mpg… i’m not sure which I prefer). You can point to more ISOs in avery’s system and a lack of effective PnRs, but the fact is that Deron is settling for more and more long and midrange jumpers over his Nets career. And now that he’s not the only offensive option and we’re playing games that matter, it’s become really evident that it’s hurting us badly.
As someone who has watched over 75% of his NJ games and all his games this year, I really think Deron needs to rededicate himself to improving his game again. Am I asking him to maybe spend more time in the gym working on his conditioning and jumper and perhaps sacrifice some family time in-season and vacations in the off-season? Yes. But is that really asking too much when the team is paying him $100 M over the next few years? This team can only go as far as a first or second round playoff exit if Deron does not dedicate himself to improving and stepping up his game to his Utah days and that’s a fact.December 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm #51138
Syc – Sorry, I think that’s too over the top. I know that Deron REALLY wants to win. If you listen to him post-game after loses, he is really not happy. It’s not an issue of complacency. He is playing with the same level of intensity and interest he’s always played with.
Again, at this point, I just think that Avery isn’t doing a good enough job of utilizing his star’s talents (of course coupled with lack of confidence in his shot and injuries). Just a combination of things, but complacency CERTAINLY isn’t one.December 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm #51143
sorry, i don’t buy it. if he really wants to win and is as intense as ever, how do you explain his half-assed defensive efforts? even marshon doesn’t give up on plays defensively like him. for instance, look at the video recap this site has of the bulls game, which only pulls about 10-15 plays. deron’s caught giving up on the play multiple times. with him on the floor, we’re terrible defensively and the statistics back that fact up.
the fact that he’s not giving it a complete effort on defense suggests to me either that he’s getting too tired on defense and isn’t in shape, or just doesn’t care enough on that end – if he’s not working hard there and/or isn’t getting himself into the needed conditioning, what’s there to suggest that he’s working hard to get out of this funk/improve his shooting on the other end?December 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm #51168
I think the effort/lack of consistency point is fair to an extent. Playing meaningless games in the dirty Jerz could conceivably have an effect and the subjective observation that Deron didn’t try very hard on defense has been made (see: Hollinger). I think bringing his personal life into the equation, however, is far off base. You can say what you will about his body language on court, but a man’s personal life is a man’s personal life. Lawrence Taylor was strung out on cocaine his whole career, stories abound of Barkley’s exploits, etc. Unless you have credible evidence of his personal life affecting his play (a la JR Smith admitting it), it holds no water.
As with most things in life, and as Max points out, D-Will’s struggles are probably a combination of things. In the effort part of that equation, I think shaking off bad habits is a far more viable explanation than saying D-Will is complacent. He may need to amp it up to another level to be truly elite or to overcome new obstacles (injuries, bad habits, personnel etc.), but I don’t think he’s lost his focus. More importantly, nice dedication representing the black and white in Chicago!December 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm #51169
Again, caring is NOT the issue. Anyone in the Nets franchise will tell you that. You want to say he’s not a good defender? Fine, but to say he doesn’t care is just not true. Steve Nash? — Never a good defender, but does that mean he doesn’t care? Not at all. Deron Williams is the leader of this team by default because he essentially put it together. He is a player with a winning track record, not some guy who has been on losing teams his whole career. He wants to win, and he wants to win badly.December 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm #51179
Points always carry more gravitas when you capitalize them.December 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm #51181
I don’t know how you can watch nets games and not get a feeling that he doesn’t give full effort on defense. I’m not saying he’s a bad defender; actually, i think he has a lot of tools to become at least an average to above average defender, with size and BBIQ being his main assets. He’s shown signs the past couple seasons and this season of being an apathetic defender, not caring to play his man tight or close out, or flailing his arms in disgust when he recognizes that he’s going to be out of position on a rotation and won’t be able to get there.
As much as it sounds like i’m just bashing everything Deron, it’s not like that; it’s just frustrating to me and many other nets fans that he could be so much more if he showed more effort on that end.December 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm #51182
as a nets fan I would love to see Deron succeed, it’s just that I really wish he would put more visible effort into certain aspects of his game. And when it really is evident that he doesn’t give effort on one end of the game, i don’t think it is out of line to wonder if he is really putting in the required effort and practice to improve on the other end as well.December 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm #51198
Your expecting him to play as hard as Gerald Wallace. He won’t. Nobody ever will. Your acting like he just doesn’t want to play hard. He’s signed for 5 years at max. money and doesn’t have to worry about injuries. Please tell me what reason he has for, as you say, “not caring,” “not playing hard.”December 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm #51208
Coincedentally, Mike Mazzeo of ESPN, just put up a story that basically said the same exact things that I was hinting at in this post – http://m.espn.go.com/wireless/story?storyId=8756203&city=newyork
Kind of weird that this would come out a day after I posted this.December 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm #51219
Max, seriously, do you think that your opinion was the same as an ESPN shill pundit’s is supposed to make me think you have any kind of concept about Deron’s or the Nets’ game?
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