Joe Johnson grabbed the ball off a Gerald Wallace miss and swung it out to Deron Williams. With 2.8 seconds left, the franchise point guard had his feet set behind the three-point arc — a clear look at the basket — as Jason Kidd scrambled to contest his shot.
It was a brick.
And like that, the Manhattan Knicks defeated the Brooklyn Nets in the second-ever crosstown showdown.
Normally, a last-second shot doesn’t say much about a season as a whole — but this brick speaks volumes.
D-Will has started to criticize himself for his poor shooting this year, telling reporters after the Knicks game, “I don’t feel like I’ve had a good game yet this season.”
The reality is Williams hasn’t shot well since he left Utah two years ago.
For 53 games of the 2010–2011 season, Williams shot .458 percent for the Utah Jazz. In 12 games after being traded to the then-New Jersey Nets, he shot .349 percent. Last season he averaged .407 — the lowest season-long percentage of his career.
Williams was selected with the third overall pick of the 2005 NBA draft — one spot ahead of Chris Paul. In their first five seasons, their shooting percentages were nearly identical, with Paul earning a slight edge. But since being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul has improved his shot-making while D-Will has seen his efficiency decline.
What does all this mean? Hopefully, that Williams is still trying to find himself — not just as a player, but as the face of a new organization. When he first came to the Nets in February 2011, his wife remained in Salt Lake City to give birth to the couple’s fourth child. That fall, the NBA lockout caused Williams to find work playing in Turkey before returning to lead no-hope New Jersey in a shortened season.
This year, of course, he’s playing in Brooklyn. As he settles in, Nets fans can only hope the shots follow.
Matt Spolar is a nearly 6-foot-1 journalist with a middling high school basketball career who is sure the Nets win thanks to team’s top-tier guards.