All the Deron Williams $98 million can buy

Deron Williams

Deron Williams: 64 G, 58 GS, 32.2 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.45 SPG, 0.20 BPG, .450 FG% .366 3P%, .801 FT%, 17.69 PER, 6.9 EWA

grade-cSeparate from expectations and expenses, Deron Williams had a good year. He was one of the league’s finest mid-range shooters, hitting 52.3 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet, and averaged 16 points and 6.9 assists per 36 minutes, both solid numbers.

But the Nets didn’t trade for — and re-sign Deron Williams so he could lead them solidly. They gave him $98 million over five years to be their leader en route to championship contention. They traded for the Williams that averaged over 19 points and 10 assists per game from 2007-2011 with the Utah Jazz, a player they’ve rarely seen.

Williams is no longer a superstar. He seems to have accepted that, but that won’t make the expectations go away. He’s morphed from a game-changing talent to a very good facilitator with a bloated contract, and rumors about his potential departure would be stunning if he hadn’t fallen so far in three years. His numbers look disturbingly like 2007-2008 Devin Harris’s, when Harris was 24 years old and led the Nets to a 34-48 season, three years before the Nets traded Harris for Williams (numbers courtesy of Basketball-Reference):

Devin Harris Deron Williams

The book on Deron Williams is written in sanskrit. He averaged career-lows in points and assists per game since becoming a full-time starter, but he led the starters in player efficiency rating and the team in plus-minus by a wide margin. His shaky ankles kept his explosiveness at bay, unless he was crossing up Chris Paul. He’d be fine if his ankles were fine, but his ankles haven’t been fine in so long that he might never be fine again. He shot 64.6 percent on dunks and layups, but fewer than 20 percent of his shots were from within three feet. He’s good in subtle ways when his team needs dominance.

Williams has undergone another MRI on his ankles, which may require another surgery. He’ll be 30 years old the next time he steps on the floor, and age is unkind to balky athleticism. The Nets may look to trade Williams — something he has not requested — but given the $63 million remaining on his contract ($72 million if traded) and his unclear health status, it’s hard to imagine any suitors.

Compare Deron Williams to no one in particular, and you’d see a good point guard. But plop him in the enormous context of the Brooklyn Nets brand, which began the day the Nets traded for Deron Williams, and you see a mercurial talent, with a widening gap between ability and necessity, and flashes of frustrating brilliance that fade further away with each passing day.

Must-Read: Deron Williams showed the hell up tonight