Deron Williams is stirring up some controversy after getting questioned about his poor shooting this season. Deron slighted his current offense relative to the Utah version, saying to the New York Post:
It's just more 1-on-1 isos. I grew up ... in high school, my coach wasn't one of those guys that just let us just throw out the balls and play. We were a system team. We had a staple of plays that we relied on for good execution. In college [at Illinois], we ran a motion offense, a lot of cutting, a lot passing, a lot of screening and making the extra passes. I'm used to just movement. So I'm still trying to adjust. It's been an adjustment for me. But it's coming along.
I'm sure that this quote, combined with Williams' similar statements to Howard Beck of the New York Times ("That (Utah) system was a great system for my style of play") will provoke some outrage among NBA fans everywhere. Regardless of what happened in Utah, Williams is seen as at least somewhat at fault for the split between himself and Jerry Sloan.
Since Williams is the one casting blame on the system for his .388 field-goal percentage, he's begging the question himself: Can Williams be a superstar without a specific set of circumstances?
My response to that question would be that A) No, Deron Williams cannot be a superstar in any, or even most systems and B) There's nothing wrong with that. There are only so many players who can have a superstar impact in almost any setting. If memory serves, young Kevin Durant looked ordinary when P.J. Carlesimo had him confused for a shooting guard. If you want "max" production, your team should adopt the maximally optimal system.
In the old, fluid Jazz flex offense, Deron Williams was trying 43 percent of his shots at the rim. Look at his current shot distribution:
In Brooklyn's iso-heavy attack, Williams is managing only 25 percent of his shots near the rim. Since Deron's a merely average shooter, this has hurt his efficiency significantly.
Some would point to this and claim that a "max" contract guy shouldn't be so dependent on system. I believe that such a statement undersells the importance of strategy. As a small forward, flanked by two non-shooting big men, Carmelo Anthony was a frustratingly inefficient scorer.
Now that Anthony plays power forward alongside three other shooters, Melo has the room he needs for open three-pointers and clean looks elsewhere. A strategic tweak. The strategy change has Melo claiming a career-high .536 effective field-goal percentage (twos and threes combined), and he's entered the MVP conversation.
Deron could undergo a similar renaissance if Brooklyn changes course. The Nets could employ a four-out (four three-point shooters) strategy like New York did with Anthony. This would open up space for Williams' currently thwarted drives. Brooklyn might also look into the screen-heavy motion offense that had Deron flowing in Utah.
Would it be ideal if Williams could adapt to Avery Johnson's system? Certainly, but the Nets need to work with the player they have. For Deron to flourish as a superstar, he needs the right role.