If you were unaware that this was Deron Williams’ first action of the preseason, you wouldn’t have believed that little factoid after watching his performance on Friday night.
After spending the entirety of training camp and all but one game of the preseason trying to recover from a sprained right ankle suffered just before the Brooklyn Nets first convened in preparation of the upcoming season, Williams didn’t miss a beat in his nine minute return to the lineup, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in a dominant 108-87 road victory for the Nets over the Miami Heat.
Tossed right back into his usual starter’s role, Williams not only didn’t favor his ankle at all, but displayed great quickness and a shooting touch that looked about as rusty as a showroom Camaro, confidently draining three of four attempts from 3-point land. And that’s exactly what the Nets were hoping for entering a matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the regular season opener next week.
Who knows what the Nets would’ve looked like in that game without Williams? Not that it’s going to be a relaxing day on Lake Erie with him out there, but this is the type of opponent that they weren’t guaranteed to get past without him. The Cavs don’t have “pushover” written all over them entering this season. They have the potential to be an up-and-coming roster poised to finally make a push for one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots.
Williams will be the quarterback of this offense. Not having head coach Jason Kidd on the bench for that game because of his DUI-related two game suspension will be enough of a challenge for Brooklyn. Missing Williams as well could’ve been the blueprint for a disastrous debut for a team that has true championship aspirations.
The Nets had no idea what they were going to get out of their star point guard in his first preseason outing. But after watching him, they’re sure to have peace of mind that they’ll have their most important player on the floor for their first game that really matters.
Now they can breathe easy during the flight to Cleveland.