According to Roderick Boone of Newsday, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams has hit his boiling point. The source of his frustration is not the recent happenings with Avery Johnson, but instead his individual struggles.
It's yet another episode in which D-Will fails to understand what is holding him back.
In a recent interview, Boone outlines the comments Williams made about his shortcomings. D-Will states that he's never before played this poorly for such an extended period of time.
It appears as if it's starting to get into his head:
I'm definitely frustrated with how I'm playing and disappointed with how I'm playing. I've had stretches [before] where one or two games, I had off-games. Never like this. I've never been consistently playing this bad. ...
I don't think I'm playing like [an elite point guard]; I think I can be. I've just got to figure this thing out, try not to panic, hopefully try not to talk about it too much. But it's kind of hard because it's a big problem right now.
Williams is right. He's never played this poorly.
D-Will is shooting a career-worst 39.9 percent from the floor and just 31.1 percent from beyond the arc. He's also averaging just 7.7 assists per game—his lowest mark since his rookie season in 2006.
So what is holding this elite point guard back? He's yet to figure that out.
According to Boone's interview, Deron Williams claims his jump shot hasn't been the same since he received wrist surgery in 2011.
Prepare for a chronological list of other physical ailments that may have played a factor.
Williams received an injection for inflamed tissue in his left ankle on October 26, 2012 (via Nets PR).
D-Will later claimed that the ankle had been bothering him since the Olympics and will need to be cleaned out at some point (via NBA.com).
An MRI on November 1, 2012 confirmed that Williams had bone spurs in his left ankle (via ESPN New York).
Williams missed time in mid-November due to a sore elbow and a dental procedure (via Nets PR).
During a game on December 14, 2012, Williams suffered a left quadricep contusion (via the Nets' Twitter account).
December 26, 2012 marked Williams' first missed game as he suffered from a sore right wrist (via Newsday).
It may be a stretch, but could it be that nine injuries are holding him back? Seems like a legitimate possibility.
Time to rest and recover.
Remember how we told you D-Will feels exhausted? Well, before he said that, he said the injuries had nothing to do with it.
It’s not my wrist, man, it’s my confidence. I just got to play better. Injuries or not, I got to play. I can’t keep having 10 points, not being aggressive. I just got to find a rhythm. It’s just tough.
When a player is shooting 39.9 percent from the floor and 31.1 percent from distance, his confidence is certain to be rattled.
When that player is a career 45.2 percent shooter from the field and 34.8 percent from distance, that appears to be a logical explanation. After all, D-Will was as consistent as they come in Utah.
Could this actually be the case with D-Will? Or is this just another excuse?
The more he changes his stance, the less we know.
Deron Williams made waves on December 17, 2012, when he publicly criticized the Brooklyn Nets' style of offense.
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 [in coach Avery Johnson’s offense.]
If people feel this was out of the blue, it was not. Williams first offered up those very sentiments to Beck two weeks earlier, on December 2, 2012 (The New York Times):
I’ve definitely been turning down some shots, to get other guys shots. But I just haven’t found a rhythm in this offense yet. I haven’t found where I’m going to get my shots from consistently. I’m not a guy that likes to go one-on-one every play. So it’s been difficult.
To be fair, D-Will is right. He plays better in a system than he does as the go-to scorer.
The question is, are all of his problems going to be answered by a change in schematics? Or is there more to it than a heavy burden?
Considering he posted a career-high usage rate of 29.8 in 2011-12, his worst season since 2007 in terms of efficiency, there could be something to this theory.
You know, if he sticks with it.
Williams claims that it is his approach before, during and after games that is harming him most:
I think it's mostly mental with me. It's become mental. I've tried getting up extra shots, I've tried not shooting so I don't think about it. I tried shooting before games, not shooting before games, so I hopefully I snap out of it.
Could it be that Williams is over-thinking things?
Perhaps that is the reasoning behind it all. Maybe Williams is performing this poorly because he is no longer reading and reacting.
The issue with that theory is he's averaging just 2.8 turnovers per game—his lowest mark since his rookie season in 2005-06.
What's the real cause of Deron Williams' struggles?
During his time in Utah, Williams shot 45.6 percent or better in every season but his rookie year. He averaged at least 18.7 points per game in four of those seasons.
The reason he was able to do so was the fact that Jerry Sloan's system made him a facilitator before he was a scoring option.
Carlos Boozer was the go-to scorer as Utah ran the pick-and-roll to perfection. Players such as Andrei Kirilenko and Kyle Korver also stepped up in the scoring department.
D-Will only looked to score when the opportunities were presented, hence his excellent field-goal percentages.
Since joining the Nets, Williams has been attempting to make something out of nothing.
Rather than involving his teammates, he's looking to carry them by tackling the scoring burden.
As soon as D-Will commits to the role of a facilitator, his shots will come more naturally. In turn, he will return to elite status.
He proved such with 19 points and 13 assists against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 2, 2013.
As long as Williams maintains a hero's mentality, the results will underwhelm. Embracing his role as a facilitator, however, will lead to an All-NBA comeback.
The ball is in his court.