Score Strip

  1. League: NBA
  2. Charlotte vs. Miami
    Live
    3:03 4th
    82 7 CHA
    95 2 MIA
  3. Dallas vs. San Antonio
    Final
    85 8 DAL
    90 1 SA
  4. Washington vs. Chicago
    7:00 PM
    5 WAS
    4 CHI
  5. Portland vs. Houston
    9:30 PM
    5 POR
    4 HOU
  6. View All

Brooklyn Nets: Why Deron Williams Is an MVP Candidate This Season

Former All-Star, Olympian Has Never Been Surrounded by So Much Skill

Yahoo Contributor Network
Brooklyn Nets: Why Deron Williams Is an MVP Candidate This Season
.

View photo

Deron Williams (8) heads into perhaps the most important season of his career.

COMMENTARY | Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets has to wonder if he's dreaming.

On one wing, there is Joe Johnson, a man with multiple All-Star appearances. On the other wing is Paul Pierce, a guy with a ring and 10 All-Star nods. Look down there! Is that The Big Ticket himself, Kevin Garnett, another former champion and league Most Valuable Player? And down in the post is Brook Lopez, a first-time All-Star a year ago who finished in the top five in player efficiency rating in 2012-13.

It's almost an embarrassment of riches for a point guard who as recently as two seasons ago in New Jersey shared a starting lineup with Kris Humphries, Anthony Morrow, MarShon Brooks and DeShawn Stevenson, among others.

The Nets are all-in for 2013-14, making a huge offseason trade with the Boston Celtics to add the championship pedigree of Garnett and Pierce while also adding Jason Terry to the bench in that same deal and signing Andrei Kirilenko to what might be the deal of the century to augment the second unit.

But the guy who has to make it go is Deron Williams, the 29-year-old point guard who recovered from a miserable first two months and a pedestrian middle two months in 2012-13 to return to the form that made him an All-Star over the final 23 games last season.

Williams averaged 22.9 points, eight assists and 1.1 steals per game over the final 23 games of 2012-13, shooting 48.8 percent from the floor, 40 percent from 3-point range and 86.2 percent from the free-throw line. His offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) was a torrid 129 in that stretch.

Those numbers compare to what he did from the start of the season through the end of February: 17.3 points, 7.7 assists and 0.9 steals in 55 games on 41.7-percent shooting, 36.6 percent from deep and 85.8 percent from the line. His offensive rating was 113.

So Williams was clearly a better player at the end of the season, and it's important for him and the Nets that the strong finish carries over into this season.

Williams has to be the engine that makes Brooklyn's machine operate. He's the distributor, the facilitator, the guy tasked with perhaps the toughest job in town -- keeping four other All-Stars (five, if you count Kirilenko) happy with their touches.

If Williams can do it, the Nets will be successful. As in, possibly winning 60 or so games and competing for the top seed in the Eastern Conference successful.

If that happens, if Brooklyn has that type of success, it will be because Williams successfully navigated them there and that feat would be enough to make Williams a viable candidate for Most Valuable Player honors.

The MVP voting isn't about who the best player is. If that were the case, LeBron James would have more than the four trophies he already has at home. Often the MVP is about who the writers who believe is the best story.

Look at 2010-11. Derrick Rose leads a hometown renaissance, taking the Chicago Bulls back to the top of the Eastern Conference for the first time in the post-Michael Jordan era. Rose wasn't the best player in the league in 2010-11, but he was the best story and, as such, the MVP.

Steve Nash won the award twice while piloting the high-flying Phoenix Suns under Mike D'Antoni and in neither of those seasons was Nash the best player in the league. But he was the best story.

If this Brooklyn thing comes together the way fans hope -- and the way owner Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to spend nearly $200 million to reach -- Deron Williams will likely be the best story because he will be the guy who ultimately made it happen.

And that's often enough to cop an MVP Award.

Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who covers the Brooklyn Nets, New York Yankees and New York Giants for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of brewers101.com and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball
View Comments