Point guard Deron Williams returned from an 11 game absence on Monday, and instantly started producing for Brooklyn, who are desperate for a win.
Deron Williams hadn’t played since January 7, a stretch that saw the Nets go 2-9 and slip out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With Mirza Teletovic also being declared out for the season in this span, the Nets were desperate for a boost. And Williams provided them with exactly the boost they needed.
Coach Lionel Hollins showed no restraint, allowing Williams to play nearly 30 minutes off the bench. Williams put up 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in his return to action, showing he’s ready to contribute. He also hit 3 of 5 shots from deep, providing some much needed perimeter shooting.
Most importantly, the Nets sank the Clippers 102-100 for a quality win, something that has been rare lately. This was also the Nets’ first home win on 2015.
Williams will continue to play through the All-Star break, after which he will probably be back to 100%. It will be interesting to see if Williams replaces Jarrett Jack in the starting lineup, plays alongside Jack, or comes off the bench to provide quality minutes like Brook Lopez.
No matter how Hollins utilizes Williams, the Nets are instantly better and deeper. Williams had a +12 rating last night, the second-highest on the team. This is a good indicator that whenever he gets his minutes, the Nets are a more competitive team on the floor. With the signing of Andray Blatche possible in the coming weeks, the Nets are making their roster much more versatile.
As mentioned, Hollins will simply have more options every night. Having Williams and Lopez come off the bench could be brutal to opposing team’s second units.
Williams showed he still has some growing to do however, showing rust with four personal fouls and four turnovers. These mental mistakes are likely a result of a month without playing basketball. Once Williams can cut down on these errors, the Nets offense should run much more smoothly .
The Nets still sit 1.5 games behind the Charlotte Hornets in the Eastern Conference standings, but the return of Williams definitely bolsters their chances at extending their season. With an uncertain future ahead in Brooklyn for many players like Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett, all the Nets can do at this point is go out and every night and try to get a win.