Starting Five: Dunkin' D-Will

Four days.

Just four days after repeatedly telling reporters he appreciated their concern for his health, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams was dunking at practice Thursday, according to reporters in Miami.

Apparently, his sprained right ankle has gotten a lot better.

Williams injured his right ankle during offseason workouts in Utah. The Nets told reporters he’d be ready for training camp.

He was. On a limited basis. And that didn't change until Thursday, when D-Will practiced fully for the first time.

He may or may not play in Friday night’s preseason finale against the Heat. And it’s unknown if he’ll play in the team’s regular-season opener Oct. 30 in Cleveland.

But things seem quite promising, much more promising than they were four days ago.

Truth is, the Nets need Williams to be healthy once the playoffs begin, not now.

Granted, it doesn’t seem like he has ever been 100 percent since being traded to the Nets back in February 2011. He has had wrist problems, ankle problems … you name it, he’s probably had it. It’s affected his play. It has affected his mood.

Williams has had his big moments with the Nets: 57 points against the Bobcats, 20 assists against the Warriors, 11 3-pointers against the Wizards.

The talent is still there. The consistency hasn’t been. And the injuries are mostly to blame.

“I feel like I’ve always been a pretty good shooter,” Williams said Wednesday. “I had two years where I had a wrist with fragments all in it, so that’s why I sucked.

“Last year, I started off the season with my ankle, so I think when I’m healthy I think my jumper is definitely fine, and I think I’m going to get a lot of open looks on this team with the guys we’ve got.

“I’ve definitely been shooting a lot of jumpers -- it’s really jumpers and lifting weights. I’m strong and I can shoot right now.”

Apparently, he can dunk, too.

This season, the Nets desperately need a full season of dominance from Williams. They finally got him a full complement of offensive weapons. With the additions of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and the subtractions of Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace, there’s no reason Williams should average fewer than nine assists per game.

Nets coach Jason Kidd is implementing a “freelancing” offensive system that fits D-Will’s style of play. A lot of motion. A lot of reads.

Perfect. Now he just needs to be healthy to run it. And it appears he’s getting there.

For the D-Will practice newser, click here.

For a substantial statistical breakdown on D-Will: Read Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry.

In case you missed it: We wrote about KG and Pierce’s friendship on the blog.

Seventh: That’s where Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose have the Nets ranked in their season preview. Watch the video here.

Tonight: The Nets close out the preseason in Miami.