Following the end of Jason Kidd's time in a Dallas Maverick uniform, the point guard position has been a carousel of sadness. Each season, there has been hope for the next point guard to arrive, followed by the inevitable let down. Darren Collison, Derek Fisher, Mike James, Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin, Gal Mekel, Jameer Nelson and Rajon Rondo have all tried to hold down the starting position since 2012. None lasted even a single season.
Enter Deron Williams, a Dallas native who the Mavericks pursued unsuccessfully in 2012 when he was a free agent. Although he has descended from his lofty status of being considered one of the best point guards in the NBA, Williams made sense as an addition this offseason after he was bought out by Brooklyn. Is he a new hope or another fading star bound to crash under lofty expectations?
What's expected of Deron Williams this season?
Well, for starters, he should be expected to not get a dadgum eight-second violation walking the ball up the floor. Past that, the former Colony High School star is expected to steward the office, pushing the pace on misses and makes, hitting open threes and making the correct pass.
It's safe to say Williams is the best conceptual fit for the Maverick offense when compared to any of the aforementioned players. He's a big guard at 6-foot-3 and has the pedigree of a shooter. While Williams is not a $20-million superstar anymore, he is a talented guard who has simply failed to stay healthy and his shortcomings with the Nets had more to do with expectations than actual play on the court. In just over 30 minutes per game last season, Williams averaged 13 points and 6.5 assists. His shooting percentages were the worst they've ever been, but some of that can be attributed to the Nets being a tire fire of despair.
If the Mavericks fully heal, Williams will be an excellent offensive option to go with a strong line up of shooters. Think about it -- Deron advances on the break to a streaking Parsons, who drives and kicks to Wesley Matthews, who then reverses to Dirk at the top of the key. Dirk's well covered but only because of help. He then flips the ball back to Williams for an open three. These guys might not be able to defend, but Williams should make the offense hum nicely.
What's the best case scenario for Williams?
It starts and ends with how Williams interacts with Rick Carlisle. There's no other way around the fact that Williams and coaches from all stops simply have not seen eye to eye. If these two strong basketball minds can connect and if the Mavericks can gain some semblance of health, then a bounce back season is in store. Of course, he also needs to stay healthy (and he's not off to a good start with a calf injury that held him out of the preseason opener). Williams needs to play at least 75 games this season for the Mavericks to be a threat out West.
If Williams was able to put up 13 points and six assists on a grind-it-out team like Brooklyn, a 15-point, seven-assist type season is surely in the realm of possibility. Those numbers aren't markedly different of course, but with Carlisle's egalitarian offense, one would expect better percentages across the board. Those sorts of numbers translate to a pretty scary Maverick offense when paired with Dirk, Parsons and Matthews.
What's the worst case scenario then?
You mean other than starting training camp with an injury? An early season explosion with Rick Carlisle as the Mavericks struggle to find footing with a tough schedule in the opening months. Williams has to shoulder too much of the load as the Mavericks slowly get healthy, thus wearing him down by the All Star break. Williams shooting numbers slump, and Carlisle is forced to use Raymond Felton or J.J. Barea for more than 15 minutes per game.
A lot rides on Deron Williams fitting and staying healthy. Making the assumption that both will happen is bold.
The Dallas media market is very different than the New York media market. How will this affect Williams?
Paul Pierce made national headlines in the spring when he mentioned that he believed Williams did not want the spotlight or the pressure that came with that role in Brooklyn. Now that Williams is part of an ensemble, he should thrive. With Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle as the clear leaders of the team backed by Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons, all Williams will have to do is play basketball. The Mavericks may struggle at times this season, but the chance to get back to basics for Williams may do wonders for his career.
Why does he have the bald head/beard combo?
Great question, I'm glad you asked. Really, I think he's channeling his inner Reggie Evans. What does this mean for the Mavericks this year? Well, I hope it means he's ready to get down to work. Right now, I'm having a hard time taking Williams seriously and think he looks a little dumb. But that may be because I don't care for Reggie Evans and can't get the comparison out of my mind. Sorry Deron, it's not personal!