It’s safe to say that this past week was critical to the future of the New Jersey Nets franchise. The week started with the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors still being tossed around, and then we found out late Monday night that ‘Melo was headed to New York. All Nets fans (myself included) thought the team had missed out on their blue chip yet again, and to make it worse were beaten out by the crosstown rival Knicks. But then we all woke up Wednesday morning and heard the news that was no short of STUNNING. The Nets had traded for Deron Williams, easily one of the best point guards in the NBA.
I know NAS has already touched on the acquisition of Williams in great detail but I feel the need to at least add my opinion here. There is no question in my mind that this is a better deal than the proposed trade for Anthony. The Nets didn’t give up nearly as much and they got arguably a more valuable player in Williams. ‘Melo is a better scorer than Williams, but the Nets new point guard makes everyone better. Carmelo Anthony would have brought some excitement and certainly more scoring to the Nets, but Deron Williams helps the rest of the players. I’m specifically thinking of Brook Lopez here. I think the Nets big man will be much better with Williams, as the point guard will be able to break the defense down and leave Brook open in the post.
Let me say something about Devin Harris quickly. Obviously the Nets got a major upgrade in their floor general with the acquisition of Williams. And there is no denying that Deron is a better point guard than Harris. But Devin Harris is not a bad NBA point guard. Would he have ever taken the Nets to the playoffs consistently? Probably not. But I always liked him as a player and think he could be good in Utah with a change of scenery.
The first two games with Deron in the lineup were strong offensive performances for the Nets, but the team struggled on defense. They averaged 102 points in two games against the Spurs and Rockets but also gave up an average 114.5 points per game over that stretch. It will take time for the team to get some chemistry with a new point guard, and I am not under the illusion that the Nets will get on a big run and even challenge for a playoff spot. But over the last 23 games of the 2010-11 season, it would be nice to see the team develop some cohesion and have a positive to work towards next season.
As for Deron’s performance in his first two games as a Net, it was about what I expected. He averaged 14.5 points and 14.5 assists in Texas, and while I would eventually like to see some increased scoring, I have no doubt that the Nets will get plenty of 20-point, 15-assist performances from Williams. Deron Williams will be on the New Jersey Nets for the rest of this season and all of the 2011-12 season, unless some unforeseen circumstances arise. All Nets fans are going to grow to love this guy, because he’s just that good. He is a consensus top-5 point guard in the NBA and he’s arguably second behind Derrick Rose. Of course everyone wants Williams to re-sign, but my advice would be to enjoy the next year with him as the team’s point guard, and just hope the front office does whatever possible to keep him.
This upcoming week will be an interesting one for the Nets, with Deron’s home debut tonight against the Suns and the team’s trip to London, England for two against the Raptors this weekend. Phoenix is coming off of a dramatic victory over the Pacers last night, but it would be nice for the Nets to get this game tonight, then go overseas and get a split against Toronto. It should actually be a fun night at the Rock with Deron Williams’ home debut, so if you’re not busy, I’d advise making your way over to Newark.