Deron Williams has been quite effective in his bench role since he returned from his ankle injury, playing about the same amount of minutes and the only real drop-off in his stats are his shooting numbers. Williams was shooting 47% from the field, 41% from three as a starter, but coming off the bench, he is shooting 42% from the field and 25% from three. However, DWill has become a more efficient passer, his assists numbers are up by a full assist in his three games as a reserve.
Williams has been brought back to full speed, his ankles seem to be "fine," and it is now time for him to make his return to the starting lineup. Although, it's my belief that the 100-million dollar point guard should not start at the point, but he should play off the ball, leaving Shaun Livingston to be the court general.
Of course, I don't mean take away all of Williams' point guard duties, but just to open up more opportunities to score and spot up, a role that Livingston is uncomfortable playing.
More Film Study
More Film Study
The most effective lineup the Nets have played this season is the Kevin Garnett, Shaun Livingston, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams starting lineup, not the opening night starting five, that included Brook Lopez, or the current one, which includes Alan Anderson over Williams. This lineup yields a +/- rating of +11, the best on the team.
This lineup is ideal for head coach Jason Kidd to use because both guards have a different skill set which makes them a great pair. Williams is a strong, aggressive (when he wants to be) point guard who has a great touch when he is on. Livingston, on the other hand, is a long, wiry point guard who has taken about a third of his shots outside of the paint this season.
What I like about this backcourt is the spacing it provides the Nets. Take a look at this play and watch when Kevin Garnett gets the ball, he is given several different options.
This is just a simple play for the Nets, Garnett is setting a screen for Livingston, which give him multiple options to pass to a Net beyond the arc, or possibly in the post.
This play has Livingston handling the ball and Williams spotting up waiting for the ball to get to his side of the floor. No other player on this Nets team can handle the ball while Williams has the opportunity to camp out in the corner and wait for the ball to get to him. Williams spends this entire sequence occupying the corner; as he watches the play unfold, he gets ready to shoot the ball.
The spacing that Williams off the ball and Livingston handling the ball produce is what lead to many fine Nets shots.
Livingston does a fine job as the point guard of this team; he is a playmaker who can get to the rim with ease due to his overwhelming size advantage. Livingston has been the ball handler in 128 pick-and-rolls so far this season, ending with a score nearly 40% of the time, turning the ball over only 12% of those times, per Synergy. In comparison to Williams, who has been in only 11 less situations, has scored on 38% of his opportunities, but has turned it over 23% of the time, Livingston seems to be a more reliable point guard.
With both point guards on the floor, the Nets have looked to get Williams the ball, although sometimes it doesn't work. But the Nets can still move the ball and find a fine shot.
Here, Williams can't get a shot off of a double screen, but resets. This is where one can see the freedom Williams has to play on or off the ball comes in for the Nets. Livingston gives the ball right back to Williams to create a play for himself. Livingston then recognizes Kyle Lowry's defensive blunder and goes right to the basket. The look isn't there for Williams, who kicks it out to Garnett. Andrei Kirilenko sees Livingston, and the Russian forward tries to tell Garnett, but he doesn't realize. However, Kirilenko finds Livingston for the easy bucket a moment later.
This play shows the spacing the Nets could have with a true slasher that can handle the ball along with a versatile point guard who can play off the ball can produce from that position as well. Both players are smart on the floor and can get open without the ball being in their hands.
Lastly, I'll breakdown an interesting play that the Nets ran against the Oklahoma City Thunder, one that is quite successful and can be run more often with this two-point guard lineup.
This is a very simple play that is a likely apart of every team's playbook, the UCLA cut. This is slight variation of the play, but it is the same concept.
Livingston gets the ball with 18 seconds left on the clock, becoming the point guard in this particular play. Williams then runs Thabo Sefolosha into two screens going down to the basket, but Williams will run Sefolosha back up from where he came on the opposite side. Sefolosha gets caught in the second screen set by Pierce and it turns into an easy DWill three, who is also fouled after the shot.
To be frank, this play probably doesn't produce this fine of a shot, if at all, if another wing is the making the pass to Williams, they lack the patience to see it through. Simple plays like these can be used much more frequently if the Nets begin to use the Livingston/Williams lineup, opening up many scoring opportunities for the capable scorer, Williams.
Some of these clips have not included the recommended starting lineup; however, it is irrelevant. With the way the team has played of late, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Joe Johnson are clear starters, wile Alan Anderson, who has played admirably, is the odd man out. This starting lineup has played well together and has been quite unselfish. 55% of the baskets made by this lineup have been assisted on.
The Nets have played very well, and Williams' minutes have not taken a noticeable hit with him coming off the bench, but he is the leader of this team, the one who the team was built around, and he needs to start. However, he should start off the ball and become the aggressor, not the facilitator.