Deron Williams Must Be in Top Shape for Brooklyn Nets to Contend for Title

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Deron Williams Must Be in Top Shape for Brooklyn Nets to Contend for Title
Al Bello/Getty Images

In order for the Brooklyn Nets to finish the second half of the 2012-13 season strong and make a run at an NBA title, star point guard Deron Williams must be healthy and, more importantly, apparently fit.

On Friday, the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy broke the news that USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo felt that Williams was out of shape for the Olympic games.

According to Bondy, Colangelo said, “Deron Williams, for the Olympics, was not in the best shape. He was a little overweight, and I told him that at the time.”

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but that's not exactly the type of comment you want to hear from a respected basketball mind like Colangelo if you're Williams.

Harry How/Getty Images

On Sunday, ESPN reported that Colangelo's words had been twisted and that he never deemed the point guard unfit to play basketball for the United States.

Whatever the case may be, Williams is in for a world of criticism now that shots have been fired.

Williams, who is listed at 6'3", 209 pounds on the NBA's official website, sat out the last two games prior to the All-Star break due to inflammation in both of his ankles and has seen his production decrease this season due to nagging ankle, wrist, thigh and shoulder injuries (h/t ESPN).

Despite the three-time All-Star's inconsistent play, the Nets are still 31-22 and currently hold the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference.

But if Brooklyn is going to seriously contend for an NBA Championship this season, Williams needs to be in shape.

When I say "in shape," I'm not necessarily talking about his weight—Bondy cites that Williams is just one pound heavier than when the Nets acquired him from the Utah Jazz two years ago.

Cary Emondson-USA TODAY Sports

What I am talking about is getting healthy and getting his mind right.

Despite his struggles at times, Williams is still averaging better than 16 points per game this season to go with 7.6 assists per game, but he's shooting just 41 percent from the field.

Compare those numbers to his statistics from 2007 to 2011, when he averaged a double-double for four consecutive seasons, and you can see the 28-year-old is struggling.

Whether it's his injury issues or his weight that is affecting him (I believe it's the first), the reality is that Brooklyn isn't going anywhere without its All-Star point guard leading the way.

Backups C.J. Watson and rookie Tyshawn Taylor have stepped in and played some solid basketball in Williams' absence, but this team and this offense were built around No. 8.

Al Bello/Getty Images

That said, if Williams can play through his injuries and elevate his play to what we're accustomed to, Brooklyn can make some noise in the playoffs.

I think they still need another piece like Paul Millsap—which I've already touched on—but they have a strong nucleus with Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson spacing the floor.

Williams has always played at an All-Star level at roughly 208 to 210 pounds, and that's not something that needs to change.

If Deron Williams gets healthy and Brooklyn gets back on track, watch out for this squad in the playoffs.

 

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