Just about everyone on the Brooklyn Nets has been talking title -- everyone except the face of the franchise.
That’s right. Deron Williams seems to prefer the Tom Coughlin approach: “Talk is cheap. Play the game.”
Yes, Mikhail Prokhorov wants the team to win a championship within the next three years. And yes, Joe Johnson believes they can do so this season. As for Williams? Well ... he’ll be the first to point out that the $330 million team hasn’t even had an official practice.
Asked how long he thought it would take for him and his teammates to jell, Williams joked, “8.2 days.”
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” he continued. “It’s one of those things where you never know how fast a team can come together or how fast things are gonna come together. But like I said, I think our veteran leadership is gonna help. We have guys that are proven at this level.”
Williams just won his second Gold Medal at the Olympics. He’s just never won an NBA championship, though it seems like he’s hungry and willing to do whatever it takes to get one. At the age of 28, Williams is in the prime of his career. He hasn’t played in a playoff game since May 10, 2010. But after going through a year and a half of misery in New Jersey, things are looking up.
GM Billy King and the rest of his staff have appeared to put the right pieces around Williams, allowing him to be himself again.
Instead of having to shoulder the load scoring-wise and having to force plays that aren’t there, Williams can do what he does best: facilitate the offense. Pass. Not shoot.
In 2007-08, Williams averaged almost 19 points and 11 assists while shooting more than 50 percent from the field, nearly 40 percent from 3-point range and better than 80 percent from the free-throw stripe.
That’s exactly the type of offensive efficiency Avery Johnson wants out of his point guard. And with Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez on the court, teams are no longer going to be able to key in on Williams, which makes those numbers very attainable.
At Monday’s media day, Williams deflected questions from all angles.
Do you think you’re the best point guard in the league? “I don’t care.”
Are the Nets the best team in New York? “I’m not gonna get into that.”
Deep down, D-Will wants to be the best point guard in the league. And he’d love nothing more than for the Nets to one day overtake the Knicks as the top team in the city.
For now, though, he’s just trying to figure out how to get acclimated with his teammates.
“I told him he should take the baton and really step up in that area and get the guys in at certain times,” coach Johnson said, referring to how Williams got his teammates into the Nets’ practice facility two weeks early to begin preparing for the season. “The response from our guys to his leadership was phenomenal. He led the workouts. It was terrific.”
Now it’s up to Williams to lead his team through training camp, into the regular season, and, hopefully, deep into the playoffs. He just might not be making headlines with his mouth while doing so.