The 2013-14 NBA season hasn’t even started, and already the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach is expecting the world of his All-Star point guard.
“I’m going to push him,” Kidd said of Williams. “I want the best for him. When we sit down and talk about goals, team goals and also individual goals, I’m going to push him and I want to get him back to double-digit assists.”
Williams dropped at least 10 dimes per game in three successive campaigns between 2007 and 2010. His assist totals have declined every year since and last season, he averaged just 7.7, the lowest mark of his career outside of his rookie campaign (5.5). Playing on a Nets teams with a slew of offensive weapons, however, Kidd’s projection for Williams is more necessary than it is whimsical.
Rattling off at least 10 assists per game remains an incredible feat, something only one point guard accomplished last season (Rajon Rondo). But for the Nets, it’s more about shedding some light on a complex offensive situation. With Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson joining Williams in the starting five, Brooklyn has a potential quandary on their hands.
In that one lineup, there are plenty of weapons. I’ll refrain from saying “too many” because that just seems stupid. But there are a lot. And things aren’t going to just work themselves out. Chemistry will need to be established, sacrifices made and roles shape-shifted before the Nets can emerge as the bona fide contender they believe they are.
That starts with Williams, previously an assist-totaling machine.
He has to find a way to keep everyone involved and set his teammates up with good looks, especially when it comes to Lopez and Garnett. Neither of them are known for creating their own shots, so pick-and-rolls, drive-and-kicks and what have you must be run frequently and to perfection.
Williams’ task becomes slightly more difficult with Johnson and Pierce, though. They’re both known for creating their own shot. Playing without the ball won’t be too much of an adjustment for Pierce, who has spent time playing next to the ball-dominating Rajon Rondo, but it was an issue for Johnson last season. His 16.3 points per game were the fewest he’s had since his sophomore year.
More than anything, however, this has to do with Williams. According to Bondy, Kidd says he’s healthy and has dropped 15 pounds, which should allow him to explore his creativity more freely. Alongside more offensive options than he’s ever had, it’s not unrealistic to believe that will be the case.
Though he missed just four games last season, he wasn’t what you would call healthy. His play picked up during the second half of the year, but he struggled for a large portion of the crusade. Able to begin the season healthy and “spry,” Williams should be headed for a more statistically sound showing.
Will that performance include dishing out 10 or more assists per game? If Kidd has his way, absolutely.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.