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Williams doesn't seem to want to lead the Nets.
The Brooklyn Nets kicked off the NBA's Christmas bonanza against the Boston Celtics, but Deron Williams might as well have stayed at home to open presents. To put it simply, he didn't show up.
Granted, most of the Nets delivered subpar performances against Boston, but they took their cue from Williams—their scowling, listless leader.
The Nets have since fired coach Avery Johnson, just a short time after Williams declared himself a "system player" and said he preferred the system that Jerry Sloan ran with the Utah Jazz—of course, Sloan himself left Utah amid a deteriorating relationship with Williams.
Williams, playing like a man bogged down by tryptophan and eggnog on Christmas, begged an unfortunate question: Is he up to the task of leading this Nets team?
Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News certainly doesn't think so, calling the supposed star point guard "invisible" and disparaging his performance:
Speaking of Williams, he passed up shots when the Celtics didn’t double-team him on pick-and-rolls or off screens. More than any Net, he had a miserable Christmas.
“I think it’s already a concern,” Williams said of the team’s December slump. “We feel we’re a good team. We’ve got to get back to that. We need a win.”
Williams might as well be speaking about his individual performance.
The All-Star point guard is shooting below 40 percent from the field this season, his 16.6 points per game are his fewest since 2006-07 and his 8.0 assists are his fewest since his rookie year.
You could chalk that play up to an extended early season slump and an adjustment period, but look at Williams' career stats. Though he was a bona fide star with the Utah Jazz, Williams has been in a funk ever since he became a Net.
Maybe this is karmic retribution for forcing Jerry Sloan into retirement. Maybe Williams' time as a star merely passed him by. It's impossible to say for sure, but it's clear that he's not the player he used to be.
It's not the end of the world for Brooklyn. Despite giving him a max contract, the Nets have enough talent to get by with a good Deron Williams rather than a great one.
But there is no excuse for his lackadaisical and uninspired play. It definitely doesn't help his performance, and it harpoons his teammates' morale.
Way back when, Williams was on pace to have a storied rivalry with Chris Paul, ending with each of them enshrined in the Hall of Fame. In the past two years, however, Williams has fallen off significantly and his legacy has become uncertain.
Williams still has time to alter his career arc, but if he continues to put forth these lifeless performances, he will tarnish his reputation as a leader and as a star.