Should Deron Williams Have Taken The Last Shot Vs. Bucks?


With time winding down in triple-overtime and the Nets down 120-118, Deron Williams angled left, then darted right, past a dummy Mirza Teletovic screen & a trailing Brandon Knight at the top of the key, and dove towards the basket, seemingly with an open lane and an opportunity to tie the game.

But just before Williams touched the paint, he elected to dish the ball out to Joe Johnson, who missed a fading 18-footer contested by Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo that could’ve tied the game.

Williams was criticized after the play for not taking the shot. While Williams didn’t play it perfectly, passing out was absolutely the right play to make.

Here’s the video of what happened:

“The play was for me to (fake) it left,” Williams analyzed after the game. “We ran kind of a fake screen in the middle of the court, just drove, I saw — I don’t know how to say his name, Ante-te- …”

Williams trailed off to laughter, before someone suggested he call him by his first name. “Giannis, there you go. Giannis. I saw him help a little bit, Joe was open, so I passed him the ball.”

Here’s the moment where Williams passed:


Notice Antetokounmpo’s position in the paint. Like Williams saw, he’s in proper help position, standing between Williams and the basket, and Antetokounmpo has the wingspan of a small country. Had Williams elected to drive the ball to the basket, at a point in the game where referees rarely call fouls, he likely would’ve had his shot stuffed by Antetokounmpo, and drawn further ire for taking a bad shot.

If anything, it not that Williams passed, it’s that he passed too soon. As mentioned earlier, Williams hadn’t even gotten into the painted area when he dished to Johnson, exhausting his own option further than 15 feet away. The Nets had 12 seconds on the clock when he passed, so it wasn’t like he needed to rush. Had he gotten closer to the basket, he would’ve drawn Antetokounmpo’s attention further, giving Johnson more of an opening.

It also speaks to Antetokounmpo’s freakish length and athleticism, as well as his defensive instincts: He contested Williams in the paint and still ranged out to contest Johnson’s shot. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that Antetokounmpo could’ve deflected a pass had Williams driven too far into the paint.

It’s a tricky balance in crunch time, and Williams made the right play. It just didn’t work out. “We’re still trying to figure out what plays work well,” Williams added. “We’re good enough to where we should just be able to make plays late. We did that in stretches, but we’ve got to close out these games. We’re a veteran team. They’re not. We should be able to win these.”