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Deron Williams is not the only one to blame in Brooklyn.
Deron Williams is not an NBA superstar.
Neither is Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez or Gerald Wallace.
A collection of great, but not incredible, talent in the starting five isn't enough to carry a team to a title. And that's exactly what is currently being exhibited by the Brooklyn Nets.
The red herring is the recent firing of Avery Johnson, or the indirect blame placed on Williams.
There's only anecdotal evidence here and there to suggest that Williams drove Jerry Sloan out of Utah, just as there's just slight fingerprints of Williams on of the recent Johnson firing.
Just days prior to the firing of Johnson, Williams spoke about the offensive style of both of his former coaches:
That system was a great system for my style of play. I’m a system player. I love Coach Sloan’s system. I loved the offense there. Is it as good as there? No. There’s just more one-on-one and isos.
But none of that matters.
This isn't about whether or not Williams ran one coach, or two coaches, out of town. The struggles of the Nets aren't as simple as Williams not being an isolation guy.
The problem with Brooklyn is directly tied to the team's extreme lack of depth. Williams can shoot above 50 percent and average 10 assists, but that doesn't mean Brooklyn is a contender.
There's no system that allows five starters to play all 240 minutes.
Too often, we jump to excitement based upon what the starting lineup looks like. In football, we discount non-skilled positions, and in baseball we discount the bullpen and utility guys. But year after year, it's those forgotten pieces that win championships.
Seinfeld needs his Newmans just like Stephen Curry needs his Jarrett Jacks.
You're only as good as the guy playing the other portion of your minutes.
It's unfair to throw a microscope on any given game, but Brooklyn's 100-86 loss to the New York Knicks on Dec. 19 is emblematic of the team's issues. The Nets played to their average potential:
- Deron Williams shot 58 percent for 16 points, also tallying 10 assists and five rebounds.
- Joe Johnson was 3-for-5 from three-point range for 17 points despite shooting at a less-than-average clip of 35.7 percent.
- Brook Lopez had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Kris Humprhies had nine rebounds.
- Gerald Wallace had a down night, scoring just six points, five below his average.
Most of these numbers offset one another to create a typical night for the Nets. And all in all, it wasn't good enough to beat a team like the Knicks because of one clear fact: no one goes big off the bench.
Keith Bogans went as nuts as he's going to go with 11 points on the night, but he was the lone bench player to have an impact.
There simply was no punch off the bench to pick up for the lack of a big night from any of the starters. And none of the starters will regularly have big nights.
Without a bench, the Nets will continue to flounder. Brooklyn is ranked No. 24 in the league in bench scoring. They are only one slot behind the Miami Heat, but none of the Nets' starters are a top-10 player in the NBA, let alone the best player.
Andray Blatche is the one guy off the bench who has been a difference-maker, as he is averaging 11.4 points and six rebounds per game. Reggie Evans has been a force as a rebounder. But neither Evans nor Blatche is going to be enough.
After beginning the season 11-4, the Nets have since dropped 10 of their last 13. The wins in that stretch have come against the Toronto Raptors, Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers.
The Nets should no longer be considered even a long-shot contender.