We learned alot about the Brooklyn Nets this past week. Fresh off the break, they win back to back games in the final minute against Milwaukee. Then, they stay put at the trade deadline, not moving Kris Humphries as many suggested. Last night, they lost to an athletic Houston team in the 4th quarter, relenting to Houston’s manic pace. With Carlesimo talking to the press about stopping Harden and Lin, he probably wasn’t thrilled about Carlos Delfino draining 6 three-pointers. But since we’ve come back from the break, I think we’re ready to make some definitive statements about this Brooklyn team.
This team goes as far as Deron Williams will take them. Joe Johnson is a nice piece, but he’s not the guy. Brook Lopez, whether you’d like to admit it or not, is an All-Star caliber center. But the offense, pace, and leadership all start with D-Will. And right now, that’s not the best basket to hold your eggs in.
Williams revealed he had another cortisone shot in both ankles on Thursday, and coach Carlesimo noted that he won’t be fully healthy for the remainder of the season. Williams is still a top-quality guard, averaging nearly 18 points and 8 assists. But it isn’t the same.
Deron can’t run. It hurts to take a jumper. He’s afraid of going strong to the rim.
Here is his 82games.com page. Notice how his baskets come jumpers (81 percent). Shouldn’t those be Joe Johnson’s percentages? He’s shying away from contact, and either distributing or taking long jumpers. Williams takes 5.2 threes per game, which is career high. In fact, his attempts per game numbers have gone up every year since his rookie season. Are defenders giving him more space? Or is it something else?
Last week when Jerry Colangelo called his fitness into shape it certainly raised eyebrows around the league. But calling Deron out of shape is just irresponsible. I’m sure Jerry Colangelo had his reasons but if Williams ankles are sore it’s because wear and tear. He started 55 of 66 games in 2011-12, which was often comprised of back to backs due to the late start. This, immediately followed by the Olympics, can’t be good for sore ankles.
My Angle: Not everybody is built like LeBron. Not everybody can age like Kobe. Deron Williams has moved past “I’m playing hurt” and into “this may be damaging long-term” territory.
This week was a microcosm for the Nets season. Wins over bad teams, losses over playoff teams. They are in the discussion, but there’s no way they beat any elite team (Heat, Pacers, Thunder) 4 times in two weeks.
Sitting at the four seed, you’re looking at the ceiling of the 2013 Brooklyn Nets. But whether this year’s struggle will have a lasting impact on the career of those involved remains to be seen.