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Can Deron Williams regain his confidence?

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Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Those were heady days, a mere two years ago. The Nets had put together a backcourt for Brooklyn ... "Brooklyn's Backcourt," in fact according to the trademark the Nets took out. There was a pep rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall to introduce the two All-Stars, one of whom had just won his second Olympic gold.

While Joe Johnson has (mostly) lived up to the hype, particularly with his clutch shooting, the best by almost any measure in the past two years, Deron Williams has suffered through the worst two seasons of his career, with ankle sprains and a loss of confidence that is well known to all, because as Andy Vasquez writes he regularly admits it. The player who was averaging 21 and 10 when the Nets acquired him has seemed like a shell of that All-Star, All-NBA player and Olympic gold medalist. To many pundits, he is done, done at age 30, when most point guards are peaking.

Now, after much delayed surgery on both ankles --neither involving soft tissue-- he has been quiet, rehabbing in Utah, occasionally returning to New York for medical check-ups. He was expected to be ready to resume basketball activities in September, which begins Monday.  Two weeks later, he will host his celebrity dodgeball tournament in New York. The questions will come again then, particularly those about what Kobe Bryant said of him, as was reported this week.

He should be, after a summer rehabbing his ankles, ready for the good fight again. Other than Brook Lopez's recovery, there is no bigger question this fall.  After all, Lionel Hollins' first call after being named coach went to D-Will.  As Vasquez writes, "It’s easy to forget that not all that long ago, Williams was near the top of the basketball world. The Nets need him to remember. "