There was once a time when Deron Williams was arguably the best point guard in the NBA. A U.S. Olympic gold medalist, three-time NBA All-Star, and two-time second-team All-NBA selection, Williams boasts a solid resume. His combination of speed, strength, athleticism, and shooting were the prototype traits that most basketball scouts would love a lead guard to possess. This season marks Williams’ fifth trip to the playoffs. Williams has been with two franchises in the Utah Jazz, and currently the Brooklyn Nets, who are currently deadlocked with the Toronto Raptors at two games apiece. Brooklyn has had plenty of success when Williams is aggressive on both ends, and uses of all of his basketball gifts.
The eight-year NBA veteran has put up an average of 23 points per game in each of the Nets two victories (14.3 points on the year). These numbers are welcoming, in comparison to the 12.5 points on 33 percent shooting that he has posted in two losses. In both wins, Williams has controlled the pace of the game, and used his ability to get into the paint against Greivis Vazquez and Kyle Lowry. Game 1, the Nets first victory, featured a series of Williams’ ability to use quick dribbles and changes of direction to get in his favorite spots on the floor. Getting into the lane is when Williams is highly effective, and he finished through contact on several plays.
The ball is also moved on various pick and rolls during several of the sets that Brooklyn found success in during the series. Williams is also able to deliver the ball in stride for their perimeter guys, Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson. The 3-point line has not been kind to Williams during this series, he is only 2-for-11, shooting 33 percent from the field. As stated, his biggest advantage in using penetration to look for driving lanes and open shooters. Nets veteran swingman Paul Pierce has expressed the importance of Williams overall game to the Nets advancing to the second round:
“We need him to do everything. He has a huge responsibility to this team. That’s why he gets paid the big bucks because we need him to do everything possible — facilitate, rebound, score, defend. He gets paid to do it all (via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News).”
Hopefully Williams will live up to the words of Pierce, and his $100 million contract that he was signed to during the 2012-13 offseason. A visit to Toronto on Wednesday will be one of the most important games for the Nets franchise this season.