Is Deron Williams out of excuses?

That’s what Johnette Howard of ESPN thinks. She writes:

At times, Williams — who is averaging just eight points and eight assists — has looked as if he’s not totally healthy. But there’s nothing wrong with his voice. He hasn’t played as if the arrival of Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry from Boston has galvanized his determination to grab this team by the throat the way, say, young Rajon Rondo had the guts and presence to do when the same more-decorated trio of veterans was still with the Celts, not the Nets.

D-Will still has a tendency to hide at times in other players’ shade. His flatness with reporters after the Nets’ rousing workout Thursday at their New Jersey practice facility was typical.

With back-to-back tests against Washington and fellow Eastern Conference power Indiana Pacers just ahead, Williams spoke for a few minutes without saying much. Then — poof — he was gone, without making much of an imprint on anything. Not even about if the traffic might be bad out on rain-slicked Route 17.

Again, it’s early. But this is not the role KG or the 35-year-old Pierce envisioned from Williams when they arrived this summer.

One note: Williams’s tempered per-game numbers are due to his minutes restriction and the blowout the Nets enjoyed at the hands of the Utah Jazz Tuesday night. He’s only averaging about 25 minutes per game. Williams averaged 36.4 minutes per game last season, and he’s averaged 12.2 points and 11.5 assists per 36 minutes in the team’s first four games this season. The points are low (as is his .429 shooting percentage on two-pointers), but he’s passing the ball as well as ever; his assist rate of 53.4% would be a career-high by a wide margin.

I’m not sure Williams ever made excuses in the first place — in New Jersey, his supporting cast was god-awful, in Brooklyn, his ankles were held together by DayQuil and pushpins — but it’s true that he’s looked lackluster in the team’s first four games. Once he’s off his minutes restriction for good, we might get a good idea of just how well he could play.

ESPN New York — No more excuses for Deron Williams