Why L.A. Lakers Made Right Choice Getting Steve Nash over Deron Williams
The 2012 NBA offseason was one that the NBA will forever remember.
Rivals crossed over as Ray Allen left the Boston Celtics for the Miami Heat and Steve Nash departed from the Phoenix Suns to the Los Angeles Lakers. Superstars shifted locations as well, as Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Andre Iguodala all changed uniforms.
The rich got richer, young teams added their missing pieces, and the landscape of the NBA changed entirely. The question is, how has Steve Nash's arrival in Los Angeles gone down so quietly?
That darn D-12.
Despite the instant disregard of the deal, the Lakers' trade for Nash did not come without controversy. Prior to the deal, then-free agent Deron Williams had made waves by posting a picture that suggested he was meeting with L.A. to his Instagram account.
The belief had suddenly become that D-Will would end up a Laker. A possibility that never came to fruition.
Here is why the Lakers made the right move in opting to acquire Nash.
Pass First, Shoot Later
Prior to developing this point, let's make one thing clear: Deron Williams is one of the most prolific facilitators of our generation. He has averaged at least 10 assists in four separate seasons and is one of the all-time great masters of the pick-and-roll.
Onto the issue at hand.
The most common misconception about Williams' career is that he has developed a scorer's mindset since joining the Nets. The truth of the matter is Williams averaged between 13.5 and 15.2 shots per game in all but one of his six years with the Utah Jazz.
That one year was his rookie season.
With that being said, Williams had always been a consistent shooter. D-Will shot 47.3 percent from the floor between 2007 and 2011. This came on an average of 14 shots per game, which displays his importance to the team as a scorer.
Upon moving to play with the then-New Jersey Nets, however, all of that changed.
With the Nets, Williams averaged 16.9 shots per game. Despite becoming a more intricate part of a scoring attack, his numbers were a concern. After a half-decade of consistency, Williams made just 39.8 percent of his field goals during his year-and-a-half with the Nets.
A shocking drop.
How inefficient was he? With that 2.9-shot-per-game increase, Williams only made 0.1 more field goals than he had in Utah. That's right: Williams saw an increase from 6.6 made shots per game from 2007 to 2011 to just 6.7 in New Jersey.
More shots, less consistency and the same scoring pace.
The point is not to criticize Williams' shooting ability, however, as he is a very skilled scorer. The issue at hand is that D-Will would be lucky to see 10 shot attempts with the Lakers, as Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard all command between 12 and 20 each.
With no room for scoring, Deron Williams would find himself out of place. Steve Nash, however, is right at home.
Deron Williams is a phenomenal player who is always contributing to the greater good of his respective team. With that being said, Williams is a master of the same "my team" mentality that has made Kobe Bryant a legend.
Just don't think that a lack of rings means that it hasn't worked out for him.
For those suffering from a case of short-term memory, such an approach led to a Western Conference Finals berth in 2007. It also led to two Western Conference semifinal appearances between 2008 and 2010.
Unfortunately, Williams ended up losing to Kobe and the Lakers in three consecutive postseason series from 2008 to 2010.
With all due respect to D-Will, who is quite personable, he has never seemed to be comfortable playing second fiddle. He made it clear that the Utah Jazz were his team, and then forced his way out of town when things weren't going according to plan (via ESPN.com).
For that reason, it is difficult to imagine Williams taking on the role of a secondary option. In fact, D-Will would likely be third on the Lakers' totem pole with Dwight Howard under contract.
At 38 years old and always of a pass-first nature, that is far from an issue for Steve Nash.
2012 New Jersey Nets vs. 2012 Phoenix Suns: What's the Difference?
If you remove Deron Williams from the 2012 New Jersey Nets and Steve Nash from the 2012 Phoenix Suns, could you tell the difference? Based off of a win-loss record, the answer would likely be a resounding "no."
Williams' Nets finished at 22-44 and Nash's Suns ended up 33-33. The question is, why the disparity?
We could compare players on either roster if one would like, but the final verdict would be that there was very little different between the two teams. In fact, the Suns' only true advantage came with Marcin Gortat.
A player who is virtually a less criticized version of Brook Lopez. A player who was nothing more than Dwight Howard's backup until Nash found him.
The reason behind this marginal range of success is the difference in approach. Although both Williams and Nash are extraordinary players, only one truly made their team better during the 2011-12 regular season.
And that was Nash.
In response to the lack of proven talent surrounding him, D-Will began to shoot more and distribute less. Despite posting the highest Usage rate of his seven-year career at 29.8, Williams posted his lowest assist ratio, 26.8, and assist per 40 minute numbers, 9.6, since his rookie season.
He also attempted 21.7 percent of his team's shot attempts. Steve Nash hoisted just 10.9 percent of his team's field goals and finished with 13.5 assists per 40 minutes and a 44.0 assist rate.
In other words, D-Will's reaction to pressure is to shoot. Nash's reaction is to involve his teammates and to improve the flow of a team.
D-Will has not proven to be prepared for a situation in which his scoring abilities are meaningless. Despite being one of the greatest pure shooters in NBA history, however, Steve Nash is perfectly equipped for such a role.
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