EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Synergy Sports ranked Deron Williams as one of the worst defensive point guards in the league last season.
But it appears Williams is committed to becoming better on that end of the floor in 2012-13.
Case in point: During Wednesday’s practice, Williams locked up Keith Bogans as he crossed midcourt and almost caused a turnover.
“Well that’s 'cause Keith can’t dribble,” D-Will joked.
But seriously ...
“He’s getting after it defensively, playing physical, fighting through screens on defense,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “He’s rebounding. He’s in there rebounding and leading the break. He understands. We can preach defense, but when your point guard is your best player and he’s capable of playing better defense and he’s leading the charge, he talks to them about it, he holds them accountable. It’s great.”
Can Williams be one of the better defensive point guards in the league?
“Absolutely,” Johnson said. “You saw it even this summer with our national team. He gets after it defensively. There’s nobody he can’t guard, can’t hold his own against, and he plays against some terrific guys.”
Williams had to carry the offensive load last season, perhaps contributing to his defensive struggles.
“It’s definitely tough,” Williams said. “The more minutes you play, the harder it is to get picked and get up. You’re getting five pick-and-rolls in one play and guys are just cracking you, so it’s tough. But that’s part of the game, and I think I won’t have to carry as much of the offensive load, but at the same time, I’m gonna be playing hard no matter what, it’s just a mindset.”
Based on his upbeat demeanor, it seems like D-Will’s mindset is in the right place.
“We’re definitely putting an emphasis on defense,” Williams said. “That’s gonna determine how good of a team we can be. We know we’re gonna be able to score with the players we have. It’s about getting stops in this league. There’s a lot of potent offensive teams in the East -- Miami, Boston and Indiana -- and you have to be good defensively in order to stop them.”