Tag: Kevin Garnett

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets

Deron Williams: ‘Everybody’s pretty much written me off’


There was a time not long ago when Deron Williams was considered to be among the best point guards in the league. His size, speed and court vision were elite, and he regularly was good for games in excess of 20 points and 10 assists.

But ankle problems have limited Williams in recent years, and last season in Brooklyn was his worst statistically since his rookie campaign back in 2006.

He’s feeling much better following offseason surgery, however, and believes there’s no pressure on him to perform after two straight sub-par seasons have taken him out of the national spotlight.

From Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York:

“Everybody’s pretty much written me off,” Williams told the team’s official website. “People say I’m never gonna be like I once was. I’m on the downhill. And so what pressure do I have?” …

“I’m a lot more confident,” Williams said. “I just didn’t have a lot of confidence in my ankles (the last two seasons). They wouldn’t allow me to do the things I was capable of doing.” …

“He has the looks of a man who is out to prove something,” Kevin Garnett said.

With the loss of Paul Pierce in free agency, Williams is going to need to be more involved offensively for the Nets to succeed. Getting Brook Lopez back will help overall, and with a new coach in Lionel Hollins, the offense will look very different than it did a season ago.

Having a healthy and confident Williams to run it could make a huge difference.

67RIEFNS No. 67: Anthony Davis becoming a superstar

Houston Rockets v New Orleans Pelicans

The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Anthony Davis played at Kentucky. He was the No. 1 pick in the draft. He made the All-Star game last season.

But, somehow, I’m still not convinced people understand just how good he can become. I’m not sure they get how good he already is, either.

He’s probably flown under the radar for two reasons – injuries and the Pelicans’ lack of success. And that’s a shame.

In a 10-game stretch last March, after New Orleans had faded from the playoff picture, Davis averaged 29.8 points on 54.5 percent shooting, 13.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.8 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. That’s insane! But Davis got hurt again, and his season ended quietly.

I don’t expect Davis to maintain that type of production this season, but I believe it was indicative of a breakthrough. Lest you think I’m cherry-picking too small of a sample, Davis posted the highest PER of anyone 20 and under – higher than even LeBron James.

All season, Davis was excellent. By the final stages, he crossed into unreal.

Anything close to that that – whether or not the Pelicans make the playoffs in the loaded West – and people will have to acknowledge his greatness.

Eight former MVPs are still in the league. Six – LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan – will be on the wrong side of 30 by New Year’s if they’re not already. Another, Derrick Rose, has played 10 games the last two years. The eighth and reigning MVP, Kevin Durant, is out for a while.

The NBA is ready for a new superstar. It’s Davis.

67RIEFNS No. 59: Nets finding new identity with Lionel Hollins

Brooklyn Nets Open Practice
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The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

With the possible exception of the Timberwolves,* eight of the nine teams to change coaches this offseason did so by choice.

*Rick Adelman retired as he was dealing with his wife’s health concerns, but he also posted three losing seasons in three years in Minnesota.

Only the Nets clearly made a move out of necessity – and they might have come out ahead.

Jason Kidd attempted a surprising power pay in Brooklyn, and then he bolted for Milwaukee.

In his place, the Nets hired Lionel Hollins, who led the Grizzlies to the 2013 Western Conference finals before losing his job and sitting out last season.

Hollins is a good coach – better than Kidd, I’d say. Hollins instills toughness in his teams, which have fit a clear style – slow-paced and physical (and effective) defensively.

But how will that work with the Nets, who played best last season when they went small?

Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee allow Brooklyn to go big. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson should defend well on the perimeter in a grind-it-out game.

But it didn’t work last year, when the Nets began the season playing big. Why will it this year? Can Hollins coach the style more effectively than Kidd?

Last year, the Nets found a system that worked, but a coach who didn’t. This year, they’re flipping back to the system that didn’t work, but they have a coach who does.

Is this finally the right combination?