Deron Williams looks to reclaim his throne as the No. 1 point guard in the NBA.
A championship-caliber team needs depth to keep a starter's minutes in check and to hedge against injuries, and the point guard position, which is one of the more demanding roster spots, must be filled with players the head coach can trust.
Williams has been a dominant 1 since his junior year at Illinois University, when he carried the Fighting Illini to the national championship game in 2005. Although his team fell short to the University of North Carolina, he did enough to be selected third overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz.
Since becoming a member of the Nets, Williams has helped change the culture of the organization.
His court vision and ability to carve defenses off of the pick-and-roll earned him a max contract in 2012. Last season, he averaged 18.9 PPG and 7.7 APG. The assists total was the fewest per game he has averaged since his rookie season (4.5 APG).
Some blame can be placed on Williams for his slow start—a few nagging injuries hampered his productivity throughout the first half of the season—but Brooklyn's lack of offensive firepower, aside from Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, made it difficult for Williams to cash in on the shots he created.
With both forward positions upgraded offensively, Williams ought to return to his double-double days.
Deron has a great pick-and-pop option in Kevin Garnett, which should give him an extra assist or two a game, and an excellent perimeter shooter in Paul Pierce to dish out to when slashing to the paint.
The presence of Garnett and Pierce will also allow Williams to find easier shots for Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. He will use his hesitation dribble to beat his defender to the paint, and defenses will be in a consistent state of flux wondering who should help on the play.
Williams, although capable of shooting 45 percent and averaging around 20 points per game, won't take as many shots as he did in 2012-13 when he hoisted a career high 1,124 field goals. Williams is likely to be a couple of points below last season's scoring average.
For Williams, less shooting will mean more assists and flashy passes.
2013-14 Stats Projection: 35.8 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 11.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 45.2 FG%, 38.9 3PT%
6'7" point guards aren't only hard to come by, they rarely exist. The long and lanky Livingston gives the Nets a fantastic dynamic to create mismatches on both ends of the court.
Defensively, he could be paired with Jason Terry—or Deron Williams if head coach Jason Kidd decided to run a two-point-guard set—and the Nets wouldn't be susceptible to Terry and Williams' lack of length.
Livingston's long arms would cause havoc in the passing lanes and on the ball.
Opposing point guards, or shooting guards when he is paired with Terry or possibly Williams, will have to be strong with the ball and create extra space when attempting to shoot over his 6'11" wingspan.
Offensively, he's almost as talented of a passer as Deron Williams. As noted by Jonathan Abrams of Grantland, Mike Krzyzewski wrote in an email that,
"With his height, he was able to see some things that a normal point guard wouldn't see. Even with his height, he was able to penetrate and make plays. He's a beautiful player. Passing is one of the main things in our game that takes it to a whole other level. Shaun could do that as well as anybody."
2013-14 Stats Projection: 24.5 MPG, 5.8 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 48.1 FG%
Tyshawn Taylor was a raw product in 2012-13 that did more watching than playing. He averaged 5.8 MPG in 38 games played, so it's difficult for most fans to get a sense of what to expect from him.
However, having spent time learning from Deron Williams and with Jason Kidd now coaching him, he should surprise folks this season with his explosiveness and ability to step back and confidently shoot over the defender.
Taylor will most likely be used initially as a spark off the bench. As the year progresses, and a couple of guys get banged up, he should display his playmaking abilities.
He has the talent to eventually be Deron Williams' full time backup, but he can be erratic and at times may try to do more than he should.
All of these issues will be corrected with experience, and the 23-year-old will eventually be a solid contributor in Jason Kidd's rotation.
2013-14 Stats Projection: 10.4 MPG, 4.1 PPG, 2.1 APG, 0.5 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 39.8 FG% 42 3PT%