Deron Williams is increasingly positive about Lionel Hollins' plan to replicate the Grizzlies "Grit and Grind" defense in Brooklyn.
"I think we’re really aggressive right now defensively," Williams said this week. "Of course, it’s a work in progress as well, we’re still learning different calls and strategies, but we work a lot on it in practice -- especially early in practice."
As Mike Mazzeo reports, Williams said it’s more about team defense that individual defense.
"It’s not a 1-on-1 sport," he said. "Sure, you wanna guard your man, you wanna do your job. But we have to be ready to help each other out and have each other’s back. That’s all part of being a good defensive team, and that’s what we wanna do."
That of course is what Hollins wants to hear. Mazzeo writes that in his last three seasons in Memphis, Hollins' Grizzlies finished in the top-10 in defensive efficiency. They ranked second in 2012-13, which led to Marc Gasol being named Defensive Player of the Year and Tony Allen (first), Mike Conley Jr. (second) and Gasol (second) being named to the All-NBA Defensive Team.
Gasol in particular was a project. Here's what Draft Express said about Gasol's "D" before his rookie year...
He doesn't make a great impact on the defensive end. His limited mobility gets exploited in pick-and-roll situations that the opponents throw at him; he's not a great intimidator, he allows smaller opponents to shoot over him; and given his superb size, he's not the best rebounder around.
Hollins is proud of the achievement.
"First of all, those guys weren’t All-Defensive (players) when I took over," Hollins said recently. "We were a collective defensive team, and I think because we were a collective defensive team, we won and they got awards for it. We’re going to be a collective defensive team here, and when we win, we’ll get recognized for it."
Hollins a bear on defense - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York