|Good night, sweet prince. (Getty Images)|
Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams is most often referred to as "D-Will" when people speak of him. It's a lazy nickname, but it's a nickname that has stuck with him. It's so much his nickname that when some people shorten Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams' name to "D-Will," you often get a response about how there is only one D-Will out there.
Perhaps Deron's new nickname should be Goldilocks. Because his porridge is usually too hot or too cold and nothing is right for him. He has come up with another reason for why his play and shooting have been so poor (relatively, when compared to the standard he set for himself in Utah) since joining the Nets: he's tired. Via New York Daily News:
“I didn't take any time off. After last season, I never stopped working out. After the Olympics, the day I got back I worked out the next morning,” Williams said. “I thought it was the best thing to do, and now looking back, it probably would have been smarter to take some time off and get a little bit of rest, especially on my legs, and my ankles in general.
“I took a lot of pounding over the last year because even though we had a shortened season, I was over in Istanbul, so I haven't had a break since before then. I felt like I could handle it, and at the time I thought it was the right thing to do. I didn't want to get out of shape. I wanted to just keep going.”
First it was the offense, and now it's his schedule over the last two years.
He's not wrong here, and I do believe this could be a very valid reason for his play. Even his horrendous shooting percentages with the Nets aside (39.8 percent since joining the team), it's the types of shots that he's taking that show he's either lost a step or he has been playing tired. In his last full season in Utah (2009-10 season), Williams took 38 percent of his field-goal attempts in the restricted area. He attempted just 3.4 3-pointers per game that season.
This season with the Nets, he's taking 26.8 percent of his field-goal attempts in the restricted area and 5.3 3-point field goals per game. This would make sense if he were a good 3-point shooter because he'd be maximizing point potential on his shots. But, he's barely shooting 30 percent from 3-point range. In his last full season in Utah, he shot a very respectable 37.1 percent from downtown.
When he does get to the rim, he's converting a career-best 69.1 percent of the time. However, he's averaging just 2.5 attempts at the rim. He was well above four attempts at the rim during his days in Utah.
Even with the excuses or explanations for his poor play, Williams is acknowledging that he needs to play better basketball.
“I think we are a little out of whack right now as a group. I know I am, individually,” he said. “I've got to play better. I've got to find ways to get better. Even on bad nights, I don't play like this. This doesn't even feel like it's me out on the court. I've just got to snap out of it. I put a lot of pressure on myself early. I was really excited about this year. Coming into the season, I felt like we had a great team. I still feel like we have a great team and I want to be able to help the team more and play better. And tonight was another night I didn't help.”
I'm not sure how this gets remedied this season. It's really hard to get the proper rest while still having to go through practices and play through games. If he took a sabbatical for a couple of weeks and managed to do some training without putting a big burden on his body, maybe he could regain his legs. But that's not a realistic option for him or really any player these days.
Deron will most likely have to continue to attempt to suck it up and try to fight through the exhaustion while he tries to regain his stellar play from a couple of years ago. Whether it's the exhaustion or the old offensive system or whatever he comes up with next, we probably won't see a solution to this issue with Williams until next season. Then he'll have plenty of time to rest his body properly and prepare it for the 2013-14 season with a head coach in place.
Until then, we'll have to keep scratching our heads every time he takes a bad jumper instead of imposing his will on the defender and getting to the rim.
(H/T - Pro Basketball Talk)