It has been 19 days since the New Jersey Nets acquired Deron Williams. I’m sure that many fans have already forgotten the abysmal beginning of the 2009-10 season and the mark of futility that the Nets set by starting last season 0-19.
I’m an eternal optimist. No matter how the Nets have struggled as of late, I am always waiting for a better tomorrow. If things won’t get better tomorrow, then I surely expect them to get better the next day.
A few weeks ago, with the Nets hopelessly out of playoff contention to a point that only divine intervention would grant them a spot, I was hoping for some kind of miracle as the trading deadline steadily approached. Deep down inside, I was hoping that the stars would align and the Nets would end up with Carmelo Anthony, despite me not being a huge fan of his game. I was battling myself. I wanted the Nets to shake things up and make an unprecedented move, but I also didn’t want general manager Billy King to give up a lot of talent in order to acquire Anthony.
The trade deadline approached, and the New York Knicks made their move, deciding not to wait until the offseason to acquire Anthony, along with now-almost-forgotten NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups.
Residing in New York, I was happy to hear Knicks' fans talk about their championship hopes now that the Knicks had not one, but two superstar players on their roster. However, I was also happy about the Nets, who could continue to build from within and not sacrifice substance for flare.
I’m not saying that I was enamored with the play of Devin Harris—I considered him to be the reason that Brook Lopez’s growth as a player had stunted this season—but I didn’t want the Nets to replace one shoot-first guy with another either.
Then came the news that the Nets acquired Deron Williams.
Williams wasn’t the only one surprised by the bold move made by the Nets management. If there was any disappointment in the Nets not acquiring Anthony, all of it went out the window once news of Williams’ acquisition was made public.
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article detailing my bold predictions for the Nets with Williams (NBA Trades: 10 Bold Predictions for the New Jersey Nets with Deron Williams). I realize that some of my predictions are very bold, but I’m sticking to my guns.
Alright, so the Nets won’t make the playoffs this year, and maybe Jerry Sloan won’t replace Avery Johnson. But I am sure that Brook Lopez will emerge as the NBA’s dominant center with Williams running the point. I’m sure that with Williams, the Nets will be able to sign other valuable free agents. I’ll bet money on the Nets overtaking the Knicks as the more dominant team in the New York metropolitan area.
In five games with the Nets, Williams is playing like a man hell-bent on getting his teammates involved in the offense. Williams is, at times, a bit overzealous in making an extra pass, instead of going for the score himself, but I’ll take Williams’ unselfish play over Anthony’s scoring anytime.
There has been a lot of talk about Williams’ desire to stay with the Nets. While he hasn’t readily disclosed his plans for after the 2012 season, I am more inclined to believe that he’ll resign with the Nets. Once again, this might be more of my eternal optimism, but what else do I have besides hope?
Speaking of 2012.
Let’s say that Williams does indeed sign an extension with the Nets. What do I expect besides singing Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes?" I expect the Nets to be set for the foreseeable future as they build around a point guard of Williams’ pedigree.
There is a myriad of guys in the NBA that can score at will, but there aren’t many guys in the NBA that can deliver the ball as Williams can, much less want to pass up the ball instead of the putting up a shot themselves.
Just think about how many of the top teams have point guards of above-average quality. Top teams in the Eastern Conference are Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. Their point guards are Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Jameer Nelson. (Yes, I think James is the point guard of the Heat and not Mario Chalmers or Mike Bibby) All are quality playmakers.
Think of the top teams in the Western Conference—San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Each team possesses a quality point guard—Tony Parker, Jason Kidd and Russell Westbrook. (I’m leaving out Lakers’ point guards since Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are leading the team with assists).
If a team is run by a high quality point guard, then it won’t stay at the bottom of the league’s standings for long.
High hopes, I've got high hopes. I have high apple pie, in the sky hopes.