The Brooklyn Nets went all in for a championship last season, acquiring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry in a draft day trade with the Boston Celtics, giving them a starting lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez with Terry coming off the bench. The Nets made the cover of Sports Illustrated with the tile ‘Who Wants a Piece of Them?’.
The Nets were picked by many experts to finish as a high seed in the Eastern Conference, but chemistry was a big issue early on under rookie head coach Jason Kidd. After the Nets started 9-19, it looked like the 2012 Los Angeles Lakers all over again. The Nets however, were able to get a roll in the 2nd half of the season, as they finished with a record of 44-38, the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Nets faced their division rival, the Toronto Raptors in the 1st round, winning the series in seven games, thanks to a clutch Paul Pierce block on Kyle Lowry sealing the deal for the Nets.
The Nets didn’t fair well in the 2nd round, match-up with the Miami Heat, who had made the Finals 3 straight years at the time, and looking for their 3rd championship in a row, as you all remember the #3Peat. The Nets lost to the Heat in five games, as the Heat went on to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals. It was a failed season in terms of all the hype about title contenders that was given before the season started. The Nets lost Paul Pierce to the Washington Wizards this off-season, traded Jason Terry to the Kings last season, and traded Kevin Garnett to the Minnesota Timberwolves this season, as the Nets showed that they have gave up on the trade, but the Nets also didn’t pan out because of the inconsistency on the team, which can be traced back to their point guard, Deron Williams and others.
Williams became a Net after a trade with the Utah Jazz in which Nets general manger Billy King said he made the move because he thought that Williams was the best point guard in the NBA at the time.
“I feel Deron Willliams is the best point guard in the NBA,” Billy King said the day he traded for Williams.
The Deron Williams that King traded for hasn’t been there for the Nets at all. As it now seems like King ‘lost the trade’ because of Williams lack of production. Williams also spoke on some of his struggles in Brooklyn/New Jersey, claiming it’s not the same environment and team as it was with the Jazz in Utah.
“They want me to average 11 assists, 10 assists,” said Williams. “This is a different team. I don’t have the ball in my hands as much as I did [in Utah]. It’s not the same type of team where I have to do that.
“I have Joe that can score, so he’s going to have the ball. Brook [Lopez], we pound it to him and he’s going to have the ball. It’s a different offense, so I’m not going to do the same things and have the same numbers that I did in Utah. I can still have the same impact on the game without having the same numbers.”
A scout who has followed Williams career very closely has also noticed the decline. The same scout has watched film of Williams in both Utah and Brooklyn, and gave some insight on what’s wrong with Williams game and how it’s not the same anymore.
“Deron’s not finishing in the lane the last year or two like he did in Utah, and I know the Jazz did a lot of finishing drills in practice with their guards,” the scout said. “I think there’s a conditioning issue with him, too. It might sound weird because Deron’s only 28 [now 30], but there’s a lot of younger, lightning rods as point guards now, and so he has to be in even better condition to keep up.
“I used to see Deron reject screens in Utah on the pick-and-roll, where he’d get a defender leaning toward the screen and then come back the other way, and I haven’t seen him do that as often with the Nets. And in the NBA every over-dribble is a tick off the shot clock, which leads to a lesser shot.
“Overall, a point guard has to value his team first. He has to accept his teammates’ limitations, and help them become better and compensate for that, and I don’t think he’s done that yet in Brooklyn.”
That was from 2013 on Deron Williams’ game. Most of it as true still, as Deron Williams game is still on the decline, as he is averaging 13 points, 6.4 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game for the Nets this season, which do not add up to the amount of money he makes, at 98 million dollars overall on the total contract he signed back as a member of the Utah Jazz.
Williams play as of late has been just what the doctor order. Over the last five games Williams is averaging 17.2 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds per game over the stretch of five games, and had his best game of the season versus the Raptors as D-Will [Williams’ nickname], poured in 31 points with 11 assists on 61% shooting from the field in the Nets 114-109 win. Another player that hasn’t been there for the Nets like he once was has also been stepping up helping the Nets surge up into the playoff standings. His name is Brook Lopez.
Lopez only played in 17 games for the Nets last season, which was another big reason why the 2013-2014 Nets didn’t pan out, but Lopez has been struggling to live up from his 2012 all-star season. However, it looks like the tide has turned maybe for the Nets star.
Over the last 5 games, Lopez is averaging 24.4 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks over that stretch. Lopez was also named Eastern Conference player of the week during March one week, as he averaged 20.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks during the month of March, as he has been playing like one of the NBA’s best centers as of late, and has saved the Nets from missing the playoffs thus far. Lopez had 30 points and 17 rebounds in the Nets 114-109 win over the Raptors tonight.
Joe Johnson has also been trending upwards for the Nets. ‘Joe Jesus’ as former teammate Kevin Garnett called Johnson, is averaging 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6 assists over the last five games for Brooklyn, which has been also critical in helping the Nets get back into the playoff picture, as the Nets are more then likely the hottest team in the East right now.
The trio that makes the most in the NBA in Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez was on the trading block earlier this season. All three of these players were rumored to be involved in trades as Lopez was nearly dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder, while Deron Williams could have went to the Kings and Joe Johnson to the Pistons of Hornets could have happened. They’re all still here, however, and the most expensive big three in the NBA has proven their price tag in getting the Nets back into the playoff picture, when things were starting to look grim for them.
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