When the Nets traded for Deron Williams during the 2010-2011 season, GM Billy King was prepared to make Williams the face of the Brooklyn Nets franchise. Still in New Jersey, it was Deron Williams who was unsure about his future as a Brooklyn Net. Long story short, when the Nets were prepared to move into their new home, they convinced Williams to stay rather than play for the Dallas Mavericks.
The front office and fans were ecstatic. With Williams signing a 5-year deal it marked the first superstar point guard to be in a Nets uniform since Jason Kidd. Reliving moments with Kidd at the helm, people envisioned Williams and his new maxed-out contract could possibly bring the same kind of success Jason Kidd brought to New Jersey.
Jason Kidd's outstanding success in a Nets uniform is undeniable. He came to a team that had previously won only 26 games and nobody could be sure what would change with just one new player. In a Nets uniform, Kidd led the team to two NBA Finals and the team made the playoffs in each of his six seasons.
In those six seasons, by no means was Kidd a selfish player, but his individual statistics were pretty incredible as well. He averaged 16 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds per game; nearly a triple-double average. He won over 40 playoff games as a Net, and when he was traded, the Nets missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons.
That was until Deron Williams came along and hope, once again, arrived for Nets fans.
Despite battling ankle injuries throughout the inaugural 2012-2013 season in Brooklyn, Williams averaged 19 points and eight assists per game. He certainly stepped up in the second half of the season and, most notably, the playoffs where he averaged 21 points and eight assists per game. Certainly star status, but it wasn't enough to get the Nets past the Bulls in the first round.
This past season, fans hoped the hiring of Jason Kidd as the new Nets coach would jolt Williams to become an even greater point guard than he already was. Williams was coming off a season in which the Nets used a heavy-iso offensive system, one that he notoriously disagreed with. But even with a new coach there was a significant drop-off in his statistics due to his inconsistency, lack of confidence, and the lingering ankle injuries. His stats for the 2013-2014 regular season were his second lowest in his career. He averaged 14 points and six assists in the regular season, just a little above his rookie season in which he averaged 11 points and six assists per game.
So this continues to raise the question, is Williams still the 'face of the franchise', the way Jason Kidd once was ?
Certainly playoff success this season is crucial to that debate, but so far in the four games against the Raptors, he's averaging 18 points and a little over five assists per game. The plus, It's a bit misleading because he's been inconsistent in the four games. In Games One and Three, Williams scored 24 and 22 points, respectively. But, in Games Two and Four, he's scored 15 and 10 on a combined 9-of-27 shooting. The Nets are going to need his best play in order to get through this series.
The organization and fans know the Nets' success is dependent upon Williams' lead. While he may never be like Jason Kidd, with his potential, Williams can become one of the greatest Nets of all time with his own #8 banner hanging in the rafters. His legacy may not necessarily ride on this post-season, but with confidence and consistency, Williams may remind people why he was once the 'savior' of the Nets, following the same parallel track to success of his head coach, Jason Kidd.