Williams, 56th to 5K, Keeps Dishing Differently
DETROIT—Just 2 ½ minutes into Wednesday’s 93-90 victory against the Pistons, Deron Williams drove middle, drawing three Detroit defenders to a spot just left of the paint. Forward Gerald Wallace wisely made a zipper cut out of the restricted area, drifting toward the open spot created on the right wing and turning to face the basket.
The pass was already arriving.
Wallace caught it in rhythm, launching a 22-foot jumper that looked good from the release. The assist, the first credited to Williams on Wednesday, was the 5,000th of his career. He becomes the 56th player in league history to achieve the milestone, doing so in just 554 games and becoming the third-fastest active player to do so, following Jason Kidd and Chris Paul, and only the seventh since 1985-86 to come in under 600 games.
“I don’t think anything about that stuff, to tell you the truth,” Williams says. “That stuff comes while you’re playing – you play long enough and at a high-enough level, those things come. So I don’t really pay any attention to it. I know I’m not catching John Stockton, ha.”
Williams, considered one of the league’s premier point guards ever since the Jazz traded up to draft him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, has averaged 9.0 assists in his seven-plus seasons. Four times, Williams has topped 10 APG; he has earned three All-Star selections, All-NBA Second Team recognition (2008, 2010) and an All-Rookie nod in 2006.
The Nets have learned to stay alert in transition, looking for the ball as they aim to reach spots they’ve worked out with Williams. Those are the maestro moments, versus the set plays or “find the open man” mantra of collapsing double teams.
“It’s not just in the open floor,” Carlesimo says. “It's not just running the halfcourt offense. A lot of his assists come from double teams, from post-up positions; it makes him different than some other point guards. There are some other point guards that post up; there are also some smaller point guards that don't see that many doubles except in pick and rolls, and who never get posted up. You see a lot more different passes from Deron because his skill set and the way he is used in the game.”
Fresh off signing a new five-year deal, Williams will man the point for at least four seasons after this one, offering Nets fans the opportunity to watch his continued climb up the career rankings. If Williams stays healthy while maintaining his current average of 7.7, he will finish the season at least 50th, and as high as the mid-40s.
For center Brook Lopez, who’s scored 117 of his 318 field goals this season off Williams’ passes, it comes down to just a few things:
“He’s very unselfish, a fantastic leader, has great floor vision and a great haircut, too.”
Visit the Nets vs. Pistons Game Center for a full recap of Wednesday's 93-90 victory.