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The Nets need Deron Williams back ... and that could happen Monday

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Note: This article was written before Friday night's game against the Toronto Raptors.

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After a full contact practice Sunday, the Nets upgraded Deron Williams status for Monday's game vs. the Clippers to "questionable."  It appears to be up to him.


There's no doubt the Nets need Williams back ... badly. The max-contract point guard has fallen way short of expectations during his tenure in Brooklyn, but he is still an important cog on this team and needs to be on the floor. It's about his impact and what he brings to the Nets.

Williams is averaging fewer than 14 points per game and shooting under 40% for the first time in his career. The individual numbers don't lie: Williams isn't that good anymore. He can still rise to the occasion, but injuries continue to sap his skill and confidence.

That being said, he is still needed in Brooklyn right now. Jarrett Jack, despite some big numbers, and Darius Morris are not getting it done for the Nets.  As John Schuhmann tweets Sunday, the Nets have been one of the two worst offensive teams in the month of January.  Only the Knicks are worse.


Williams went down January 4, played a little three days later and was in street clothes for the rest of the month with a broken rib.  Since then, Jack has had to play big minutes because of Williams absences -- and Morris' inability to perform well. Jack is playing more than 35 minutes per game in the month of January, including 51 in the overtime loss to Toronto on Friday.  As Lionel Hollins said after the Raptors game, "What are you gonna do? It is what it is."

Part of the reason for the offensive deficiency has been the Nets horrid shooting, particularly from deep -- worst in the league in January,  but Jack has been criticized for his poor shot selection and his increasingly poor three point  shooting: a miserable 19.6 percent. Certainly, Jack has  pushed the Nets tempo and has developed a nice pick-and-roll tandem with Mason Plumlee. Late in games, Jack has made some big shots, as he did Friday, giving the Nets another threat alongside Joe Johnson.

The Nets, who aren't great offensively with Jack on the floor, are worse with him off it and Morris filling in. The Nets are averaging 89.8 points per 100 possessions when Morris is on the floor, according to NBA.com, the worst mark of any current Brooklyn Net this season.  Morris is not a capable three-point shooter, hitting 22.7 percent in January. So he can't space the floor very well, and he isn't much of a slasher. The mid-year acquisition has 39 total drives this season, nearly two per game for him. Yes, he isn't playing all that much, and those minutes typically are garbage time, but Morris just doesn't get to the rim often. He's creating enough to garner minutes.

Morris' defense is why he is out there. He's long and aggressive and has a high motor, but sometimes gets caught gambling too much and it gives the opposition an advantage because he tends to be out of position. And he Nets aren't going to give a 10-day contract to a point guard —they've said so.

Now, lets tie this all together. The Nets need Deron Williams back on the floor because he will reduces Jack's minutes back into the mid-20's, and make Morris a bench player who gives spot minutes in the final stages of a quarter and in garbage time.

Williams' on-off +/- this season is +7.1 per 100 possessions, according to Basketball Reference. That's a very solid number.. Even though Williams' play has floundered this season, he has a positive impact on the the team because he is a threat and is a better distributor than Jack or Morris. Simply put, D-Will still has the respect of opposing defense.

While his mid-range game has tailed off, his three-point shooting is quite good. D-Will is shooting a shade under 39% from beyond the arc this season, the third best mark of his career, and has been taking them often—30% of shot attempts are coming from three-point land, per Basketball Reference. Williams can play alongside Jack as well, something Morris can't do due to the deep shooting deficit it would create.

Could Williams come back and have a resurgent season, turning the Nets season on a dime? He's done it the last two years, and the return of the Nets franchise centerpiece will definitely get the team going in the right direction. But it's getting late.   Still, with only a game and a half separating Brooklyn and the eighth seed, the opportunity is there.