Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Opening Tip: Backcourt the best?
By Mike Mazzeo
Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Nets in our “Opening Tip” segment.
Today’s Burning Question: Do Deron Williams and Joe Johnson make up the best backcourt in the league?
Nets GM Billy King assembled what has become known as “Brooklyn’s Backcourt.”
And King has said he believes Deron Williams and Joe Johnson -- not Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant -- are the best point guard-shooting guard combination in the NBA.
Both had to be the No. 1 option on their respective teams last season. Now, they have each other.
“Like I said before it’ll take a lot of pressure off me as far as (ball) handling and making a lot of the plays,” Johnson said. “(Deron) sees the floor really well. So all I have to do is try and find me an open spot. It’s gonna be fun. I can’t wait for us to really get started and play against somebody."
“(Joe) and Deron are gonna fit in just fine. I don’t anticipate any problems there,” coach Avery Johnson said Tuesday following the team’s first day of training camp. “I like the way Joe competed on defense today. And that’s an area that I want him to grow in. I want him to play harder, tougher defense. And on offense, I like his shot-making ability, but I want him to use that big body to get to the free-throw line a little bit more in certain situations.”
Johnson, known for taking pull-up jumpers and floaters out of isolation sets, averaged just 3.1 attempts per game at the charity stripe in 2011-12; he averaged a career-high 5.5 attempts in 2006-07, his best season in league, when he poured in a career-high 25 points per game.
To get to the stripe more, he’s going to have to get more shots at the rim. And it falls a lot on Williams to make that happen.
“I’m excited for the opportunity. I think he is too,” Williams said. “I’ve never played with somebody like that in the backcourt. He can definitely score, but knows how to the play the game. He can pass. He’s a big guard who can post up. I’m going to enjoy playing with him.”
Does Johnson, who is going to play more off the ball, care about his leadership role lessening with D-Will taking the reins?
“It doesn’t bother me either way. I’m not hard to please,” Johnson said. “I’m here to do my job and that’s to win ballgames. I’ll have Deron’s back 100 percent of the way.”
The Nets are expecting big things out of Johnson and Williams, who the coach hopes will average 18 points and 11 assists in 2012-13.
“I never go into a season saying I’m going to average this many points and this many assists,” Williams said. “I hope I average over 10 assists, because that means I’m finding guys, our offense is clicking and good things are happening.”
The Nets have title aspirations. If they meet them, it’ll be because of “Brooklyn’s Backcourt.”
Where would you rank the Nets’ backcourt? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.