Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Starting Five: D-Will better as reserve?
By Mike Mazzeo
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett like Deron Williams coming off the bench.
The two future Hall of Famers desperately want their team’s franchise point guard to get back to being a dominant player. Because at the end of the day, the Brooklyn Nets are probably only going as far as Williams takes them.
“Oh, it gives us a huge boost. Because we need Deron,” Pierce said after Williams scored 13 points in 27 minutes off the bench in his return to the lineup following a five-game absence due to ankle injuries, as the Nets blew out the rival New York Knicks 103-80 on Monday at Madison Square Garden. “No matter how we've been playing, if we’re going to make some noise here in the East, we need what he’s able to do. You saw what he was doing before he got injured. We need that Deron to come out here and be aggressive, to be a facilitator, to really lead.”
“I think he was comfortable with wherever he was,” Garnett added. “The heart of a champion, man. A straight lion. He is one of our leaders for a reason.”
Pretty strong compliments from KG, huh?
But he knows. The Nets need Williams. And his performance Monday was certainly a step in the right direction.
Williams selflessly told his coach, Jason Kidd, that he wanted to come off the bench because he didn’t want to disrupt the chemistry that starters Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Pierce and Garnett had formed. In 65 minutes over six games, that five-man lineup (5-0 when starting together) has a plus-20.6 net rating (102.8 offensive versus 82.2 defensive).
Williams also gives the second unit a three-time All-Star, someone who can get his own shot and create for his teammates as well.
With Williams out, Kidd has tried to get away with some pretty lousy lineups at the beginning of fourth quarters. This time, he didn’t have to.
The Nets are rolling right now. They have won seven of eight in 2014. There’s no reason to fix what’s not broken, so Williams may keep coming off the bench, something he says he’s comfortable with.
Why not, right?
Stat of the day: The Nets held the Knicks to opponent season-lows for points (80), field-goal percentage (33.8), made field goals (24), assists (13) and points in the paint (20).
Question: Should Williams stay a reserve? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Up next: Nets versus Magic, Tuesday night at the Barclays Center.