The truth is, there are a multitude of reasons for the Nets' slow, at times listless, start. I won't spend the duration of this column explaining every last thing that's gone wrong and needs to be fixed. Instead, I want to focus today on Deron Williams, the star point guard who's looked discombobulated and out of sync thus far this year.
When Jason Kidd was hired as Nets head coach, it was supposed to be a turning point in D-Will's Nets career. A superstar point guard coaching a superstar point guard. A guy in Kidd who knows first-hand the importance of an elite point guard who can make everybody, from his teammates to his coaches, look better.
So far, a mere seven games into the season, Deron Williams has not looked like the perennial All-Star the Nets expected him to be when they signed him to a max contract 16 months ago. I realize we're talking about seven games here. Williams hasn't even played 200 total minutes this season. (199, to be precise.)
But in an admittedly very small sample size, the data turns up some ugly results. Right now, Williams is shooting 41.7 percent from the field, averaging 10.3 attempts from the field per game. He's scored just a tick over 11 points per game through seven games. The FG% and PPG would be career lows if they held up over the course of the season, and the FGA would be just 0.2 more than his rookie season.
Meanwhile, his Effective Field Goal Percentage is just 47.9%, and his True Shooting Percentage is just 50.5% through the first seven games of this season, again numbers he hasn't approached since his rookie year in Utah. There's no doubt he's been an ineffective scoring option to start this season, but I would argue that the remedy might not be for him to do less offensively, but actually to do more.
Williams' Usage Percentage (USG%) is down to just 22.3% this season, the lowest it's been since his second season in the NBA, and lower than Kevin Garnett's USG%. Additionally, D-Will's assists numbers are down to 7.4 APG, a decrease for the fourth straight year, and the lowest since his rookie year, once again.
D-Will's Turnover Percentage, as estimated by Basketball-Reference.com, is at 22.2% so far this year, a staggering number compared to his career average of 16.4% and career-high in a season of 17.7%. Essentially, early this season, Deron Williams is touching the ball less than usual, and he's been less effective when he does have the ball in his hands.
Now, correlation does not imply causation, and I must caution again, we're dealing with seven games worth of data and a whole new team that I expect to get better with more experience. I doubt Williams finishes the year with the 99.7 Offensive Rating he's sporting right now, nor do I expect the Nets to lose 72% of their games like they have so far.
Nevertheless, I think it would be wise for Jason Kidd and his coaching staff to devise more ways to get the ball in Deron Williams' hands, and hopefully give the offense a more fluid dynamic than they've had so far. Everybody's going to need their share of touches, and allocating those touches won't be easy. But I think D-Will has to be the triggerman for this offense to click on all cylinders. Something's got to give.