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Slumping Deron Williams throws some blame toward Nets system

Dec 18, 2012, 12:32 PM EDT

Deron Williams, Avery Johnson AP

Remember how Deron Williams felt confined in the Jazz “flex” offense and reportedly his clashes with Jerry Sloan led to the long-time coach’s exit?

In hindsight, that offense wasn’t so bad.

In his last season in Utah (53 games before a surprising mid-season trade) Williams was averaging 21.3 points a game on 45.8 percent shooting, while dishing out 9.7 assists per game. He had a PER of 22.1. In contrast, this season in Brooklyn he is scoring 17 points a game on 38.8 percent shooting, with 8.3 assists per game and a PER of 17.4. Pick a category and Williams is worse at it after the trade, pretty consistently across the board.

As Ethan Sherwood Straus noted recently at Bleacher Report, part of the problem is Williams is not getting to the rim as often — that last season in Utah Williams got 4.3 shots a game inside the restricted area, this season that is 2.5 per game. He’s replaced that mostly with threes and Williams is shooting just 29.9 percent from three.

So now it’s Avery Johnson’s system that is part of the problem. It’s hard to take Williams’ comments any other way. Via Howard Beck at the New York Times.

“That system was a great system for my style of play,” Williams said of the “flex” offense run by Utah Coach Jerry Sloan. “I’m a system player. I love Coach Sloan’s system. I loved the offense there….

(Williams) was asked to compare the offense used by the Nets with the one he ran in Utah. “Is it as good as there? No,” he said. “There’s just more one-on-one and isos” in Johnson’s offense.

As Beck notes, the Nets have added some “UCLA” sets to the offense (something a lot of NBA teams run) to mimic some of the flex motion.

Williams may not have asked for a trade to New Jersey but the Jazz felt they had to move him before he just left. They played it smart, they did not get themselves into a Dwight Howard situation. Williams wanted some freedom in the offense, now he’s got it.

He says it’s just a matter of adjusting.

“I’m used to just movement,” he said, “so I’m still trying to adjust.”

But, Williams said, “I believe I can adapt to anything. We’re still a young team. Things don’t happen overnight. It’s still just December.”

We will see.

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