Brooklyn Nets 2013-2014 Player Review: Deron Williams

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With the big acquisitions in the summer, the Nets added to the star studded trio of Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams. The additions along with the leftover Nets had many thinking the team was due for one of the best seasons in franchise history and a deep playoff run.

The numbers

How did Williams' 2013-2014 season go? Let's check the stats:

2013-2014

Deron Williams

Games Played

64

Minutes per game

32.2

True Shooting percentage

56.4

Assist rate

29.1

Turnover rate

10.6

Usage rate

21.9

Rebound rate

5

PER

17.6

Win Shares per 48

.125

I want you to keep these two quotes in mind as you read this. The first quote comes from the roundtable the NetsDaily staff participated in and I was asked which player the Nets needed back the most:

It's Deron Williams, but with one big caveat. Brooklyn needs him back, but they need him playing at the level he was during the second half of last season. For large parts of his tenure here, he's been dealing with injuries which have adversely affected his play. If he's healthy and playing at a high level, a lot of the issues on offense can be hidden. I'm just worried that he won't actually be healthy long enough for Brooklyn to overcome their wretched start to the season.

And the second comes from Rony Nehme, who participated in the same panel and was asked the same question:

Deron Williams is still the Nets’ linchpin, even though AK brings, or as with everything Nets-related this year, was supposed to bring, more of the two-way do-everything-ness that the Nets so desperately ache for. My fear is that if you squint at the right aperture, Deron Williams starts to look a lot like 2012-2013 Dwight Howard, and the frenzied Nets don’t have the luxury to shut him down for another month to get his ankles right. Remove the explosiveness from DWill’s game and you still get a loosening up of the Nets’ claustrophobic spacing, but only marginal improvements in WARP (using a healthy Livingston as the "replacement player" in that equation).

With that in mind, there's a lot to digest here. When you look at his per game numbers, everything is down across the board and close to career lows. There's a reason for that decline. When Williams was on the court, he used 21.8 percent of the team's possessions, his lowest since his rookie year in Utah. There are two ways to read that. The first is that with the big names, Williams didn't have to do as much on offense. Back in 2012 (shortened season due to the lockout), when he had to do everything for the Nets offense, he wasn't really able to do so. Having more options certainly helped, but when Lopez got injured, he should have looked to do more.

The second reason could be due to a lack of aggression on Williams' part. He only averaged three field goal attempts inside of eight feet after averaging a little over four attempts in 2012-2013. It's also a far cry from his best days in Utah when close to 40 percent of his attempts would be from close to the basket and he'd attempt over five free throws a game. Moving beyond the numbers for a second, when watching Williams, he didn't appear to be assertive either. He deferred a lot of the time and for large stretches it felt like he wasn't even on the court. Despite all of this, the Nets were eight points better per 100 possessions with Williams on the court compared to when he was off the court.

Steals aren't the best measure of defensive ability, but Williams did collect at least one steal in 31 straight regular season games, which is the new franchise record. That streak helped the Nets become the second best team in the league at forcing turnovers. The Nets were also 3.8 points per 100 possessions with Deron on the court. He's a big point guard and that size can help him against guards when they try to post him up.

As it turned out, he was healthy long enough to help the Nets overcome their wretched start, but he still was hindered by injuries. He's been dealing with injuries since his final days in Utah, and this year, bad ankles caused him to miss 18 games.

That missing feeling came back in the playoffs, where Williams was mostly ineffective. He was outplayed by Toronto's Kyle Lowry in round one and it reached the point where someone actually put out a missing poster for him. Check his response below. Unfortunately for the Nets, he couldn't keep it going against the Heat and the Nets were dispatched in five games.

The highlight reel

After Kyle Lowry had the best game of his career in Game Five, Williams needed to have a great game to shake off the criticism he was getting.


Salary Situation

Williams is a max level player and will make $19.7 million in the 2014-2015 season.

He needs to

Get and stay healthy. Williams underwent surgery on both ankles in late May and should be ready for training camp in the fall. Since joining the Nets, Williams has missed 45 games.

In the future

With the report that Williams no longer wants to play for the Nets, this complicates things. He's extremely pricey and is coming off of another surgery. However, when healthy, he has the ability to be one of the league's best point guards. When he returns, he should regain some of the explosiveness that won him praise in Utah. In 2012, Williams mentioned that he needed surgery, but received cortisone injections and kept playing. When he does return, he should look to become more assertive on offense.

Grade: C-

This is tricky. If this were any other player, 14 points and six assists with above average marks in PER and win shares would be pretty good. Of course, Deron Williams isn't "any other player" and comes with a much higher set of expectations. Like Romy mentioned, Williams' predicament is similar to Howard's year in Los Angeles. Star player dealing with injuries and the pressure of having to guide his team to championship contention. And like Howard did in the 2013 playoffs, Williams flamed out against the team that represented his conference in the NBA Finals.

I was originally going to give Williams a D, but I thought that would have been a bit unfair considering he played the season on two bad ankles. He technically wasn't bad, but Williams isn't paid to be "not bad." A C- is a fair compromise, but he needs to improve and fast. Time's running out.

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