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2014-15 Brooklyn Nets Player Review: Deron Williams

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We're getting closer to the NBA draft and off-season, and today we're going to take a look back at the Nets' starting point guard, Deron Williams.

The numbers

How'd the year go for D-Will? Let's get into it:

2014-2015

Deron Williams

Games Played

68

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

15.7

Win Shares per 48

.083

Before the season began, I wrote in the big season preview:

This is perhaps the most important season of Williams' career. He's taken tons of criticism and has seen his stock in basketball circles plummet. He's no longer seen as the best point guard in the league and is just an afterthought in those conversations these days.

He certainly got off to a good start. Williams was impressive in the early portion of the season and even got the nod for Eastern Conference Player of the Week for his play during the week of November tenth. For that month, Williams averaged 17.8 points and 6.3 assists on 45 percent shooting in 37 minutes a game.

If you remember back to last summer, there was a rumor floating around that Williams wanted out of Brooklyn, but nothing came of it. The rumor mill got a hold of Williams in late December as the Sacramento Kings were rumored to be looking to acquire Williams and Mason Plumlee. The talks didn't get far and the rumor faded away pretty quickly.

Then, injuries got a hold of him again. Deron injured his calf in Cleveland and missed the next two games vs. the Pistons and Nuggets. He returned on Boxing Day vs. the Celtics, but he was coming off the bench as Jarrett Jack took his place in the starting lineup. He missed one game with what appeared to be a minor cramp, but it got worse and he missed the rest of January with a rib fracture. During his absence, Brooklyn went 2-9.

When he came back in February, he continued to come off the bench. However, that only lasted for a week as D-Will returned to the starting lineup after the All Star break. Although he averaged seven assists in the second half, his shooting didn't improve from the first half. D-Will shot 39 percent from the field, and more worryingly, 41.3 percent inside of the restricted area. Williams is a decent three point shooter, but if he can't make baskets at the rim, his game will be severely compromised.

Williams has received a ton of criticism from fans and writers during his run with the Nets, but none were as succinct as former teammate Paul Pierce's. In an interview with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan that ran in the end of April, Pierce had this to say about D-Will:

"Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate. But I felt once we got there, that's not what he wanted to be. He just didn't want that.

I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.''

Making matters worse for D-Will was his performance in the playoffs. Joe Johnson and Lionel Hollins revealed that he was playing with severe knee tendinitis. He played through it and had the worst series of his ten year career. Williams only shot 39.1 percent in the six game series, was outplayed by Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder (who themselves didn't have great series), and was inferior to Jarrett Jack. Along the way, this happened

Yeah

The Highlight Reel

This one's easy. Williams had his best game of the year against the Hawks in Game Four of the Conference Quarterfinals and evened the series at two.

Salary situation

Williams will be making $21 million during the 2015-2016 season. He's got one more season to go on the five year contract he signed in the 2012 off-season.

He needs to

Well, there's a lot here. First thing is he needs to stay healthy for a full season. He's only crossed the 70 games plateau once since joining the Nets in February of 2011, and even the year he did (2013), he dealt with nagging injuries throughout the campaign. Lionel Hollins mentioned that he isn't a franchise player anymore, but he did have a lot more to say about D-Will:

He's a good player, he's a solid player, but I don't think he's a franchise player anymore. That's just my opinion. He's a good player. I'm proud of the way he's bounced back and played, and there's so much pressure on him to be a franchise player, and everybody talks about a franchise player, but we need to have a franchise team.

Even in his diminished state, a healthy Williams is a better alternative than Jarrett Jack. Jack on his own was fine enough, but he and Williams together were a disaster. The duo were 10 points worse per 100 possessions when they were on the court together, one of the worst marks in the league. Hollins received a lot of criticism for pairing them together when everything indicated that it wasn't a success, but he stuck with it throughout the year. 32 percent of the time D-Will was on the court, he was playing as the shooting guard (according to Basketball Reference). Williams is best utilized at the point where he can find his teammates good looks at the basket. Having him play off the ball is a waste of his talent. Hollins would be wise to avoid having them on the court at the same time next season.

Should the Nets make it to the playoffs next season, they are going to need much better play from Williams when they're there. Williams' field goal percentages, assists and trips to the free throw line have decreased in the playoffs each year with Brooklyn. As the second most experienced player (Johnson is first), Williams is someone the rest of the roster depends on to be productive in the postseason.

Final Grade: D

If it wasn't for his excellent Game Four showing against the Hawks, he would've gotten an F. That said, it was still a disappointing season for D-Will. He was injured again and when he was on the court, his game was underwhelming. He got to the rim more often than in past years with the Nets, but he shot a career worst 45.7 percent there. He played his fewest minutes per game since his rookie season and found himself on the bench late in close games. Everything that could have gone wrong for Williams did go wrong this year. It's unlikely he ends up with another team, so he'll have another shot to win over Nets fans and rebuild his reputation as an elite point guard. With all signs pointing to Brook Lopez being the focal point of the offense and franchise, maybe there will be less pressure on Williams. Maybe.