Updated: December 21, 2011, 11:23 AM ET

Player Profiles: Deron Williams

By John Hollinger

 Projection: 21.0 pts, 3.9 reb, 10.5 ast per 40 min; 20.49 PER
• Elite point guard who excels in breaking down defenses with quick crossover.
• Not a leaper, but has size, strength to finish at rim. Good, not great shooter.
• Has ability to defend well, but plus-minus numbers are consistently terrible.

Williams hurt his wrist in late January and couldn't shoot straight afterward, converting 36.9 percent the rest of the way, including an abysmal 23-of-89 on 3s. Despite those woes and his going in and out of the lineup four different times, Williams put up decent numbers overall in that stretch by upping his passing and rebounding.

At this point, he has a strong claim on the title "third-best point guard in basketball" -- Rajon Rondo is his only serious competition -- and he's still getting better. Williams set a career high in PER despite being hurt the final three months, and has become more proficient at drawing fouls in particular. At 27, he's probably at or near his ceiling but given his size, and the fact that he lives more by deception than by speed, he should be able to hold at or near this level into his early 30s.

The one area of concern is his defense. Williams has a reputation as a strong defender, and certainly his size and toughness present advantages. But he hasn't been terribly engaged on that end the past two years, and the numbers back it up. Williams has had strongly negative plus-minus numbers on the defensive end each of the past four seasons. His Synergy numbers from last season were also underwhelming. This is partly because of lineup selection in Utah, so I don't think he's as bad as his numbers, but if those numbers persist in New Jersey it's going to raise some serious questions.

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