Deron Williams and the new-look Nets are ready to get going on Wednesday. Credit: Getty Images
Deron Williams says the Nets have various plays in their playbook but as he geared up for his third season opener with the team, the point guard was willing to explain some of the more technical aspects of what the offense will look like.
Williams will be able to participate in the motion offense the Nets are installing since he cleared all the obstacles between his injured right ankle and actually playing in a game. Williams played 10 minutes and scored 11 points in Friday’s preseason game at Miami.
“One of our mottos is make plays, don’t run them,” Williams said.
Basically that is the complete opposite of the isolation-heavy offense the Nets played at times in recent seasons when they ranked 28th, 24th and 17th in points per game over the last three seasons.
“A lot of times we just want to play basketball,” he said. “So a lot of the times we come down, we’re just passing and playing. People are going to screen, we’re going to move [and] we’re going to keep guys occupied on the weak side.
“It’s all about making reads and making basketball plays. We have enough shooters out there. We have enough guys that can create their shots and create for others that if we play the right way we’re going to get open shots. You saw it in preseason. That’s what we were missing a little bit of last year is playing the right way, playing together as a team and being selfless.”
If it seemed more like the kind of things done in a pickup game at Rucker Park or West Fourth Street, Williams was quick to point out the style is more similar to what he did for three years at Illinois.
“It’s kind of like college for me because we ran motion offense,” Williams said. “That’s basically what we did. We pass, screen away, we just kind of [are] free flowing, a lot of movement. When you have a lot of movement, things can happen because everybody’s occupied [and] the defense can’t really get set.”
The theory will be put to test right away with one of the quickest point guards in the league, Kyrie Irving, on the other side. The footwork and how Williams’s ankle responds to chasing Irving down will be a major storyline for the Nets.
“He’s one of the best point guards in this game one of the best players in this game,” Williams said after Tuesday’s practice. “He doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game, especially offensively.”
“It’s going to be tough for anybody,” Kevin Garnett said. “Kyrie is one of the emerging point guards. He’s definitely putting his stamp on the league.”
Garnett praises locker room
The media does not get to see much of what goes on behind the scenes with teams but according to forward Kevin Garnett, if they did, the Nets would be like a television show of 15 friends constantly talking and having a good time.
This is the 19th different NBA locker room setting that Garnett has been in. Over those years, the personalities have ranged from the likes of Stephon Marbury and Latrell Sprewell to Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
“If you guys could be a fly on the wall in there, it’s one of the better locker rooms I’ve been in from a personality and a guys standpoint,” Garnett said. “Obviously I would compare it to ’07-08 [when he won a title with Boston], which is one of the best teams I’ve ever been on, and my team back in ’03-04 back in Minnesota was a pretty deep team. The personality was great as far as depth and stuff. Those were similar but this is probably the best out of all of those teams, if not similar.”
The 2003-04 Timberwolves won 58 games before losing to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals and the 2007-08 Celtics won 66 games before winning the franchise’s 17th championship.
Naturally the next question is what makes this locker room one of the best if not the best Garnett has been a part of.
“The fact that guys are interacting, not just with dinners but whether it’s in the meal room or in the film room after we watch film. Guys are just sitting around, whatever it is,” Garnett said. “The willingness of being there and wanting to get to know the next guy, that says a lot. That says volumes.”
Garnett’s words take on an even more significant meaning if that actually happens on the court, and given his track record in Boston, it seems that egos will be left behind.
“When you give yourself to the team and to what you’re talking about as the common goal, you don’t have that being a problem,” Garnett said. “I can attest to that. I’ve been a part of a group of talented guys like this team and here and usually when you have problems where you’re head-butting and stuff it’s because guys can’t get over their egos or whoever they think they are or someone has been continuously telling them who they are.
“When you come together as a team, you take your faults. I’ll take mine and we’re gonna go forward with that. If we’re both talking about winning when it comes to winning time, there won’t be any problems. We’ll figure it out and there will be a common ground. Again when you have problems on teams like that, it’s usually two guys can’t over their [expletive] selves.”
Kirilenko likely out of opener
Andrei Kirilenko’s back is not quite completely healed, yet he sounded upbeat when talking about the state of the injury.
Kirilenko has been dealing with back spasms since Oct. 20. He ramped up to 5-on-5 drills and has been feeling better but he’s not quite at the point where he will return, meaning he likely is out Wednesday. He is hopeful to play Friday against Miami.
“The last couple of days I’ve been practicing with no contact,” he said. “It feels OK — the movement — because that’s the main thing, how you turn, how you slide. Nothing should bother me as far as motions. If it feels good the next couple of games, [the] next step [is to] get contact.”
The reason contact is so vital is because while Kirilenko has no problems running, jumping and moving, he hasn’t quite felt the physicality of the contact in a full-blown scrimmage.