Deron Williams still the key to Nets' success

Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Stephen A. Smith writes Friday about how well Deron Williams must play for the Nets to go deep in the playoffs. The answer: very well.

The Nets aren't going to the NBA Finals unless Williams shows up. They are not going to the Eastern Conference Finals unless Williams shows up. Chances are, they'd be hard pressed to get past the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs unless Williams shows up. And that essentially means the Nets aren't relevant in the grand scheme of things ... unless Williams shows up.

Smith isn't optimistic, pointing to how D-Will has hit another rough patch. Since April 6, Williams has averaged 11.7 ponits on 37.7 percent shooting --22.2 percent from deep-- and, for a player of his skills, a paltry 6.0 assists.

Billy King diminishes the pressure D-Will faces, saying "He's very important to us. But he isn't the only one."

An anonymous rival executive thinks without D-Will, the Nets will have issues and points more to his psyche than his ankle as the problem area.

"The truth of the matter is, it isn't good and has never been that good. From a talent perspective, you can't find too many people that would doubt he's worth an awful lot. But that's rarely the issue with him. The issue has always been questions about how bad he wants to win. What sacrifices is he willing to make? How much does he really care in the end?"

Smith points out that in the last two years, nine point guards made the all-Star team in one form or another, but none of them named Deron Williams.

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