Mavericks’ Deron Williams: Can He Reclaim Greatness?


Lost in the chaos of a very dysfunctional Mavericks offseason, was the signing of Deron Williams. How good was he and how good can he be again?

The Dallas Mavericks made headlines this offseason with the temporary agreement they came to with Los Angeles center, DeAndre Jordan. Days after agreeing to join the Mavs, DeAndre had a well-publicized change of heart, instead preferring the comforts (and money) of home in LA.

The results of this spurning sent the Mavericks into disarray, as they scrambled to build a roster made with whatever was leftover in free agency. Forced to get creative, the Mavericks started turning their attention to the trade market and waiver wire.

After making some relatively pedestrian moves, the Mavericks were able to lure a former target of their affection, Deron Williams. Williams, an underachiever as well as max contract player, came to a buyout agreement with the Brooklyn Nets. The move freed him to sign with his hometown Mavs, in an attempt to rekindle a once exceptional career.

Exceptional is a strong word, but by no means is it an exaggeration. Deron Williams, 31, was once considered one of the top young point guards in the NBA. He was so good, there was an active debate in NBA circles as to whether he, or Chris Paul, were the best at their craft. If one was “1”, then the other was “1a”.

Deron Williams began his NBA career as the #3 overall pick of the Utah Jazz. The PG from Illinois didn’t take long to make an impression in the NBA, averaging 10.8 points and 4.5 assists per game, while shooting .416% from 3-point range.

The next four years in Utah, Williams averaged over 18 points and 10 assists per game as he established himself as one of the best players in the NBA. From there, the Deron Williams story started to go south.

After increasingly frequent spats with NBA legendary coach, Jerry Sloan, the unthinkable happened. Sloan resigned his post as coach and Deron Williams was traded to the Nets. After testing free agency, Williams opted to re-sign with the Nets, rather than move back to the D/FW area and play for his home team.

The past three seasons, Williams scoring and assists have steadily declined. Last season, the discontent Williams averaged only 13 points and 6.6 assists per game, a far cry from his days of posting over 18 points and 10 assists per game.

The Nets chose to essentially pay Williams to leave, rather than force the issue any further. Williams took his buyout, and gladly ran to Dallas on a 2 year/$10M deal.

The 6’3” 200lbs point man still has the legs and athletic ability that once made him a top NBA player. His court vision and shooting from beyond the arc are still regarded as special. His effort, leadership, and ability to follow orders, is what’s in question these days.

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Deron Williams has the benefit of being reunited with his favorite backcourtmate, Wesley Mathews. Matthews, signed to a very generous max deal this offseason, will pair with Williams and hopefully give the once-great Williams, a chance to resurrect his career and salvage his reputation.

How will his personality fit with Rick Carlisle?

That’s a topic for a different day.

Today, the Mavericks can relish in the fact they signed a 31 year old former All-Star for a very cheap deal. He is both motivated, and physically able (two things Rajon Rondo was not) to play the game with the best of them.

Deron Williams actually fits Rick Carlisle‘s scheme quite well. Williams, a proficient 3-point shooter, is perfect for the Mavericks’ pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll offense. His shooting ability will help space the floor and carry the scoring load as the Mavericks patiently wait for Wesley Mathews and Chandler Parsons to regain form.

He may not be able reclaim “greatness” but he has the ability to get close, as long as the ankle issues are really behind him. Regardless of what exactly he becomes, he’s an obvious upgrade at the position for the Mavericks, and frankly, their only option.

Next: JaVale McGee Signing is Big for the Mavericks

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