The clearly hobbled, painfully inconsistent point guard admitted to reporters that his confidence is shot and his production hasn't matched the superstar billing that marked his 2011 arrival to the franchise:
Deron said he'll feels he's let everyone down these past 2 seasons. Said he used to step on court believing he was the best player. Not now.— Rod Boone (@rodboone) May 15, 2014
The Nets' $98 million man gave his team a pennies-on-the-dollar return this postseason.
Averaging 17.4 points per game for his career, Williams averaged just 14.5 points on 39.5 percent shooting and 5.8 assists in Brooklyn's 12 playoff games.
He needed 16 shots for the 17 points he posted in the team's season-ending 96-94 loss to the Miami Heat Wednesday night—and that was one of his better games in the series.
He was held scoreless in the second game of the series, then managed just 22 points on 25 shots over his next two contests.
His average of 6.2 assists in the five games barely checked in ahead of Heat point guard Mario Chalmers (4.6), a player who cedes so much of Miami's ball control that his position designation is meaningless outside of the title.
It's starting to seem as if Williams' standing as a franchise talent should have the same qualifier attached.
His fall from superstardom has been so swift it's a small wonder there hasn't been a disaster movie made around his story.
At one time a threat to Chris Paul's throne as the game's greatest point guard (19.5 points, 10.2 assists per game from the 2007-08 season through the 2011-12 campaign), Williams is no longer even a shadow of his former self, plagued by both a shattered self-assurance and a pair of bad wheels.
The ankle problems that crippled his production at the start of the 2012-13 season (16.7 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting before the All-Star break), resurfaced early and often in the 2013-14 campaign.
It was a constant struggle for Williams simply to stay on the floor.
"Before Game 7 of the first-round series against the Toronto Raptors, Williams took injections of cortisone and an anti-inflammatory to diminish the swelling in his left ankle," Michael J. Fensom of The Star-Ledger noted.
With the Nets officially falling short of owner Mikhail Prokhorov's nearly $200 million championship dreams, this franchise now faces a horde of uncomfortable questions heading into the offseason.
Chief among those concerns is the state of Williams' health, an area he admitted to the press may require surgical attention:
Deron Williams said surgery on both of his ankles is a possibility this offseason.— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) May 15, 2014
Williams has to get right for the organization to do the same. As much as supporting pieces like Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were supposed to aid in Brooklyn's title pursuit, Williams was the real justification for Brooklyn's astronomical payroll.
Nets fans, it might be time to pound the pavement in search of the real Deron Williams. That, or seek therapeutic help to come to terms with the ramifications of Prokhorov's all-in gamble.
Maybe it's just me, but lining some telephone poles with missing posters sounds significantly easier.
Statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.