3. A smarter Deron Williams.
Deron Williams sat the final game of Avery Johnson’s tenure to, ahem, rest his wrist, and it appears that day of rest has done him well; he’s shooting better from the field, hitting more three-pointers, has hit an unconscionable 97% of his free throws, has a higher assist-to-turnover ratio, and a plus-minus that’s 6.7 points better per game.
Williams also had a tendency early in the season to fling isolation threes over opponents, rather than square and spot up for open looks; Williams is taking more open threes these days than ever before in New Jersey/Brooklyn, and it’s added up to a 39% clip on 5.2 attempts per game in the 13 games.
A cursory look at Williams suggests he’s just playing more in control. His turnover rate has sharply declined, as he hasn’t forced his offense when it’s not working. Johnson preached to Williams that he had to be the focal point of the offense last season, and it’s possible that those words never really left Williams’ head while Johnson was still the coach.
It’s a surprising thought — the idea that Johnson, once a starting-caliber NBA point guard, couldn’t adjust his message so that Williams would listen in a way Carlesimo has. But under P.J., there’s no denying the difference.