Currently, the Utah Jazz are engaging in a meaningful series with the San Antonio Spurs. Meanwhile, the newly minted Brooklyn Nets are once again uncertain of who will be brought back next year, or who is willing to return to what was an injury-riddled, rumor filled, train wreck of a franchise last season.
However, both of these franchises will remain connected through a blockbuster deal that they made at the 2011 NBA Trade Deadline. Superstar point guard Deron Williams was shockingly traded to the Nets for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, the Nets 2011 draft pick (Enes Kanter was the result), and the Golden State Warriors pick in 2012 (top 7 protected). At the time, the Nets looked like they had made an absolute steal, they replaced an ineffective Harris with a much better guard and held the cards to create another superstar duo. Obviously the superstar duo thing didn’t work out for the Nets (thanks Dwight). Despite this, did the Nets really win the deal?
The numbers say no. In short, everyone the Jazz got from that deal had a better 11-12 season than “superstar” point guard Deron Williams. All three tangible players, Harris, Favors, and Kanter, have had WP48s above 0.100. Meanwhile, Williams toiled in an NBA roster that employed D-Leaguers and other misfits, and finished with a WP48 of 0.060, significantly worse than Harris’ 0.110. Essentially, the Jazz have already received three players that have exceeded Williams, at least for this season.
This begs the question, what went so wrong for Deron from the 10-11 season? Believe it or not, a lot of it may have to do with the Nets’ current roster. Almost instantly after leaving Utah last season, D-Will dropped off. In the 12 games he played with the Nets, almost all of his percentages dropped off leading to a WP48 of 0.177 turning into a WP48 of 0.083. Because the Nets lack the scoring options that the Jazz have, and have had throughout Deron’s career, Williams has had to take way more long two pointers and threes than he ever has. The Nets don’t have Paul Milsap or Al Jefferson. Kris Humphries cannot run an offense; an expanded offensive role would just hurt his current star production. Hence, Williams was forced to shoot way more, and this just does not exist in his skill set. His 10-11 eFG% of 49.3 dropped to 46.7 in the 11-12 season. He was asked to dominate the ball more than what he likes to do and had 219 turnovers in 55 games as opposed to only 230 in 65 games last season.
Clearly this is a fixable problem. Deron hasn’t suffered a major injury or anything drastic that has affected his emotional situation (to our knowledge), and so, he theoretically should be able to return to his star status. He’s only suffered a trade to an inefficient system. So how do the Nets fix this? We’ve already covered that Avery Johnson must go. Avery doesn’t recognize that his “hero-ball” offense which involved a large amount of isos (one of the most inefficient plays run in the league) run for Deron doesn’t help the team or D-Will’s individual performance. A swift firing of Avery for a coach that recognized that Deron Williams is not LeBron James would do the trick.
If Avery isn’t fired, the Nets need to find better players who can score more efficiently than Deron can when given a larger shooting role on the team, and allow Williams to return to the distribution role that he prefers. Specifically, a center who wears number 12 (I can still hope, right?).