Deron Williams critics baffle coach

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said he is "befuddled" by all the criticism Deron Williams has received this season.

Williams entered the second half of the 2012-13 campaign averaging just 16.7 points and 7.6 assists and shooting 41.3 percent from the field. He missed the team's final two games before the All-Star break due to inflammation in both of his ankles.

"Everybody else has problems with Deron. I don't have any problems with Deron Williams," Carlesimo said. "I love Deron Williams and he's a great player. I'm a little bit befuddled at everything that's being made. He's a pretty good player. I don't have the problem with him that everybody else has or seems to have. I don't know what everyone else is looking at."

The Nets hit the break at 31-22, but they had to overcome inconsistent play from Williams to get there.

The 28-year-old point guard, who failed to make the All-Star team for the first time since 2009, has been hampered by a myriad of minor injuries while struggling with fatigue and his jump shot. Williams also hasn't been comfortable running a heavily isolation-oriented offense. On Monday, he explained that he couldn't jump and had no explosion.

Still, Carlesimo is happy with the way Williams, who signed a five-year, $98 million contract to remain with Brooklyn in the offseason, has produced.

"He runs our team. He scores points. He gets assists. He draws double teams. He makes the other players better. He's a way above-average defensive point guard," Carlesimo said.

"I've had a lot of teams that didn't have a point guard nearly as good as Deron Williams. Again you can look at numbers and make numbers say whatever they want. I don't know what the stats are. We've had more wins than this franchise has had in a bunch of years at the All-Star break. We're playing in a new building and with new teammates. I don't know how many games we won last year for the whole year.

"I think from the outside world, people will say things are OK in Brooklyn, and Deron has a lot to do with that. Deron's basically been the single most important factor in transforming the franchise, so honestly I don't understand it."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.