A segment of the Utah Jazz fanbase would like to see former Jazzman Deron Williams return to Salt Lake City, but his NBA Finals performance gives pause.
When the trade deadline hit in February and the Utah Jazz were facing some questions at the point guard spot behind George Hill, Deron Williams’ name came up frequently as a potential target. Now, with Hill’s free agency looming, the former Jazzman continues to be a point of discussion.
However, some among the Pro-Williams contingent in Jazzland may be souring on the idea of bringing D-Will back to Utah given his NBA Finals performance.
Williams was signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers after the Dallas Mavericks bought out his contract to help LeBron James and his crew defend their title. However, through three Finals games, Williams has played just 40 minutes, failing to make any of his 11 field goal attempts, scoring zero points and generally looking slow on the court.
In Game 3 in Cleveland, he spent just three minutes on the floor in what was a must-win situation for the home team. Clearly Cavs coach Tyronn Lue doesn’t feel he can rely on D-Will at this point in time.
Which begs the question — would anything be different if Williams returned to the Jazz next season? Or have his body and confidence degraded to the point where he can no longer help a team win in the NBA?
His recent status as a Finals dud notwithstanding, I say there’s still hope for the former All-Star.
In looking at Williams’ struggles, one must consider the situation he’s in.
When you’re sharing the court with guys like Kyle Korver and Richard Jefferson, who have both lost some steps as well, and facing a Golden State Warriors squad that’s cranking out 103 possessions per 48 minutes in the playoffs, you’re bound to look slow.
Moreover, Williams has always been a player that thrives with the ball in his hands. With the Cavs, he hasn’t been called upon to be that guy. The fact that his minutes aren’t consistent and the Warriors’ defense is so stingy only serves to exacerbate the situation.
When I look at Williams, I still see a guy who knows how to win. In the first and second rounds of the playoffs, he was more involved in the Cavs offense and hit on 60 percent of his three-point shots as a result. Some of those shots were key in keeping the Cavs on top.
Despite being a decade-plus into his career, he’s also shown that he can still turn back the clock from time to time as well. In a late-season game against the Miami Heat, he scored 35 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed seven boards.
Can you imagine Dante Exum, Raul Neto or Shelvin Mack having a game like that, like…ever? Exum may get there one day, but I would almost bet my life that Neto and Mack won’t.
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Is Williams the guy that was once deemed a franchise player or somebody that can step in and replace the production of Hill should he leave this summer? Not at all.
But can he plug the gap as the starter or the first player off the Jazz bench and win a game or two along the way?
Recent data aside, I say yes.