The numbers say yes.
Deron Williams has publicly struggled this season with an ankle, a wrist, a coach, an offense, and his hairline, but it appears that the hard times might be in the rearview.
After a woeful month of December in which D-Will shot 32.9% from deep and 40.8% from the floor D-Will’s numbers have vastly improved. He’s shooting 43.6% from three point range and 45.7% overall this month.
Coincidentally (not really) the Nets went 5-11 in December and have gone 11-3 in January. In the 27 Nets wins this season Deron has hit 37% of his three point attempts. In the 18 losses he hits only 31%. His rebounds, his assists, his steals and his minutes are all about the same whether the Nets win or lose. It’s only the ball going in the hoop that changes.
Who deserves the credit for Deron’s improvement? Well, probably Deron. Over his eight year career he has proven that he’s a very good player in this league and good players come out of slumps eventually (that’s what makes them good).
But PJ Carlesimo deserves some credit as well. Much has been made of Carlesimo’s willingness to extend more freedom to the players (perfectly evidenced by MarShon Brooks who might lead the NBA in possessions without passing per minute), but it has been the scripted attempts to get Deron open looks that have led to a lot of made baskets.
The Nets have run a handful of effective “High-Post” sets that force the defense to struggle through screens while D-Will, Joe Johnson, or Brook Lopez work their way into their preferred spots on the court. In some games these sets have been so effective (Phoenix at home comes to mind) that it’s hard to go away from them at all.
One of PJ’s best achievements so far has been his successful mixture of freelancing and set plays. But come playoff time, when the possessions shrink in number and swell with importance, expect those sets to happen more often.