With training camp a few weeks away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the Brooklyn Nets.
Today’s question: Who has the most pressure on him?
All eyes will be on Deron Williams once again. Yes, D-Will is coming off surgeries on his ankles and health is a concern again. And he has another new head coach and a new offensive system to get acclimated to.
Without a doubt, Williams has a lot to deal with besides just regaining his old All-Star form. But if the Nets are going to make any noise this season, Williams has to be the one to lead them on the court.
With Paul Pierce gone, the Nets become Williams’ team again. Last season, Pierce and Kevin Garnett constantly tried to build Williams’ confidence up and let him know that it was his team. But Williams’ achy ankles and wavering confidence never allowed him to be the point guard he used to be.
Also, Williams understandably deferred to Pierce at times last season as the Nets tried to meet enormous expectations following the Pierce and Garnett trade. In the playoffs, Williams was up and down with his low coming on an 0-for-9, zero-point outing in Game 2 against Miami.
Now with Pierce gone, Williams is the man who has to take over the reins.
Sure, Joe Johnson will be counted on as usual for his steady scoring and clutch shooting at the end of games. But Johnson is not the vocal type. KG is still around to provide the vocal leadership but his playing time might be reduced from last season.
Like Williams, Brook Lopez is returning from surgery and the Nets will incorporate their big man back into the mix.
But it’s Williams who has to make the Nets his team again. A confident and dominant Williams is what can take the Nets from a team contending for a playoff spot to a team that could get past the first round. When Williams kicks it into another gear, the Nets do the same.
Jason Kidd tried to let Williams concentrate on scoring by putting the ball in Shaun Livingston’s hands more and playing the two point guards together. With Kidd and Livingston both gone, new coach Lionel Hollins is ready to hand the ball to Williams.
Like Kidd last offseason, Hollins is reiterating that this is Williams’ team.
“He’s a point guard," Hollins told the New York Post of Williams. “He’s our point guard. Will we play Jarrett Jack and Deron together? I’m sure we will. But that doesn’t mean Deron has to be off the ball. When you have two guys who can handle the ball, it doesn’t matter who handles it, but he’s going to be the primary ballhandler."
First, Deron has to regain confidence in his ankles. That might take some time. So the Nets will have to be patient.
But this is Williams’ team. The Nets will go as far as a healthy Williams can take them.
Question: Which Net has the most pressure on him?