Brooklyn ached for a team to call its own for 55 years. Now its point guard is aching.
Deron Williams is battling a “banged up elbow and wrist,” according to head coach Avery Johnson prior to yesterday’s matinee against the Trail Blazers.
Williams, a career 45.4 percent shooter, is only making 40.7 percent of his shots from the field in 2012-13. He has been wearing a protective sleeve on his right arm.
“As a shooter, that’s not a recipe for success,” Johnson said, before adding that Williams has passed up opportunities in order to get backcourt mate Joe Johnson shots. Johnson entered the game shooting just 38.7 percent from the field.
But Avery Johnson is unconcerned that Williams’ shooting slump will be a long term issue.
“Deron is all about winning. His shot will come around. I think you’ll see [his] shot come around,” Johnson said. “It’s not an excuse.”
Pushing the pace
Johnson’s message to his team is to hit the ground running. The Nets rank 20th in the NBA with an average of 95.4 points per game.
“We’re not there yet. We should be a team that scores 10 points a game in transition. We need more fastbreak points,” Johnson said. “We should be a game that scores 100 points a game.”
Nine teams average more than 100 points per game this season. Six of those teams — Miami, Oklahoma City, New York, Dallas, Memphis and San Antonio — hold top eight positions in their respective conferences.
Yesterday’s game was a glimpse of what could have been.
The Nets traded their 2012 first-round pick, Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams to Portland for small forward Gerald Wallace on March 15. The Trail Blazers used the pick, the sixth overall, on Weber State University point guard Damian Lillard.
Lillard is Portland’s starting point guard just twelve games into his professional career. He is averaging 20.2 points per game and six assists for the Trail Blazers.
“[They are a] good looking young team led by [their] point guard. He plays more mature than his age. He puts a lot of pressure on the defense. He’s the head of the snake,” Johnson said.
Yet the Nets do not lament the trade because it brought back a much-needed piece in Williams. The organization believes that it had to make the trade in order to convince Williams to re-sign. Williams signed a five-year, $100 million deal with the Nets in July.
“Absolutely,” Johnson said when asked if the trade worked out for both teams. “Gerald Wallace was the right player for us. We needed a starting three-man would could play [the] four.”
Follow Nets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.