As the curious case of Deron Williams continues, opinions on the source of his struggles have varied. Some say it’s got to be the endless ankle injuries. Others would point to the pressures that come with signing such an enormous contract.
While these both have to be legitimate factors in some sense, it’s clear that a lack of confidence, which Williams himself alluded to recently, really is the biggest issue that’s been holding him back this season.
In the summer of 2012, the Brooklyn Nets retained Williams by signing him to a $98.7 million contract over five years. With averages of 21 points and 8.7 assists per game during the 2011-12 season, the franchise’s final one in New Jersey, the Nets were supremely confident that the 28-year-old Williams was worth making a nearly $100 million centerpiece.
Since re-signing with the organization, Williams has been painfully disappointing and has had only one stretch in which he’s resembled the three-time All-Star he had gained the reputation for being. That period came following last year’s All-Star break, when he was good for 22.9 points and eight assists a night for the second half of the regular season.
It came as no coincidence that Williams began looking like himself in 2013 after receiving platelet-rich plasma treatment in both ankles, but undergoing the same procedure this season has not provided the déjà vu he and the Nets had been hoping for. He goes into the All-Star break averaging just 13.3 points and 6.6 assists per game.
It’s now become clear that the shortage of confidence Williams referenced a few weeks back wasn’t simply an excuse or something he didn’t truly mean. Everyone assumed the ankle procedures would be the difference maker, but they haven’t proven to be due to the fact that constant overthinking on the court by Williams has become as visible as Shaq in an airport.
The aggressiveness that made Williams worthy of all that money in the first place has undoubtedly vanished. He doesn’t look to be the playmaker he once was. Oftentimes he either comes off the ball looking to pop on an open look or passes without even attempting to penetrate the defense. If you don’t believe me, the game tape will speak for itself.
It all does go back to confidence for Williams. Whether he’s concerned about injuring his ankles again or he wants to let his teammates be the ones to make plays for each other more times than not, who knows. All I do know is that he doesn’t look like a player who wants the ball in his hands anymore.
Correction, I also know that the Nets would love to have that same guy back as soon as possible.