PJ Carlesimo Has Midas Touch with Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 28: Interim Coach P.J. Carlesimo of the Brooklyn Nets and Deron Williams #8 wait for play to begin in their game against the Charlotte Bobcats at the Barclays Center on December 28, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Nets defeated the Bobcats 97-81. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Deron Williams' knight in shining armor has arrived—in the form of Brooklyn Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Under Carlesimo's watch, the Nets have won six of seven, including their last four. In each of those last four games, Brooklyn has scored 100 or more points and it has only allowed its opponents to break 100 once.

Some would be inclined to call it a fluke. It's been just seven games since the Nets unceremoniously dismissed Avery Johnson, so reading into anything that has transpired thus far would be premature.

Only it isn't.

Brooklyn was thrashed by the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, yes, but it responded with a demonstrative victory on the road against a powerhouse in the Oklahoma City Thunder. That's no happenstance.

And neither is the recent play of the near $100 million-man Williams.

Over the last four games, the point guard is averaging 20 points, eight assists and four rebounds on a much-improved 51.7 percent shooting. He's also been lights-out from beyond the rainbow, knocking down 50.3 percent of his attempts.

From more arc and a better follow through on his jump shot to a more engaged handle on the offense, Williams is shining for the first time since he inked that fat contract of his over the summer.

The reason?


Unlike Johnson, Carlesimo has gained the support of Williams and the rest of the Nets. His movement-heavy offense has put the ball back in Deron's hands and allowed the point guard to play how he feels most comfortable.

Williams, who is averaging 20 points per game and 8.8 assists during the Nets’ four-game winning streak heading into tonight’s game against the Suns at Barclays Center, himself (via Brian Lewis of the New York Post) isn't even shy about admitting as much either:

He’s been great for us so far, and I think all the guys responded well to him. I think all the guys like him. He’s done a great job coaching us. We lost a head coach, but then we gained another one. He’s coached a lot of teams in this league as a head coach. Like I said, he’s doing a great job.

Part of the "great job" Williams refers to is the new head coach's system.

Look closely and you'll see that Carlesimo hasn't changed much. At all. Delve even deeper, though, and you'll come to find that he's made a subtle tweak or two that has aided in Williams' offensive transformation.

The ball moves from point-to-point quicker than it did, the team has cut down in the number of isolations they run and the pick-and-roll has become a staple.

And yet, it's not just Carlesimo's willingness to play toward more of Williams' strengths. It's his personality.

His hard-hitting persona has gained him the support of this team, most notably, Williams' (via the New York Post):

P.J. and Avery have different personalities. ... [Carlesimo] gets after it. He’s yelling all practice, all game. But I think guys respect it because he’s a straight shooter. ... He’s pretty hilarious. When he’s yelling, it’s still funny. [But] he does a great job of balancing it. It’s not like he’s just screaming all the time. He’s doing a good job of teaching us as well.

There's no better example of how Carlesimo has impacted Brooklyn and Williams then what happened after the beat down they suffered at the hands of the Spurs.

After the Nets' thrashing of the Thunder, Joe Johnson readily admitted (via ESPN.com) that Carlesimo "jumped on" his team following their performance in San Antonio:

Carlesimo jumped on us after a 31-point thumping at San Antonio two nights earlier, stressing the importance of ball movement on offense and helping each other out on defense.

To be honest, it helped. It translated into the game because we were in a spot defensively that we hadn't been in in a while. We was talking, communicating, the ball was moving great, guys were getting wide-open shots and it just kind of played into our hands.

The Nets continue to respond, as does Williams to this emphatic mindset. This team hasn't lost since their hiccup against the Spurs and Williams hasn't scored less than 15 points in a contest since that time either.


Absolutely not. 

Much like Carmelo Anthony responded to Mike Woodson's coaching motifs, Williams has taken to Carlesimo.

Brooklyn fans may continue to pine for Phil Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy, but maybe the solution for this team and its star player is already haunting the sidelines.

Remember, the New York Knicks chased some verifiably flashy names themselves before settling on Woodson. It's not impossible to believe the Nets will do the same—especially with Williams thriving.

Jerry Sloan wasn't always able to get through to Williams and Johnson's pink slip was a sure sign that he never did.

But Carlesimo has. He has helped restore a sense of confidence and purpose into the franchise cornerstone; his methods of communication have resonated with Williams.

And the point guard's production will undoubtedly register with the front office when they begin a coaching search that now has the potential to become an introspective revelation.


*All stats in this article are accurate as of January 10, 2013.