Postgame: Deron Williams
Mavs PG Deron Williams comments on coming back from an 18-point deficit to beat Boston Wednesday night.
Through Wednesday night’s games, among players with at least 200 possessions plus assists, Stephen Curry sits No. 1 atop the list of points scored plus points created via assist per possession. Second on that list is his teammate Draymond Green. Third is Mavs point guard Deron Williams.
The only two players in basketball generating offense more efficiently than Williams play for the undefeated defending champion. That’s it.
If the job of a point guard is to run the show, Williams has done that beautifully so far during his tenure with the Mavericks. In his 11 appearances, the Mavericks are 8-3, and a few of those wins have a lot to do with Williams. He closed out a home win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 7 and, more recently, hit a few key shots and scored 11 points in the fourth quarter alone as the Mavs stole a game from the Boston Celtics Wednesday night.
He’s also setting his teammates up to be successful, Dirk Nowitzki most of all. The power forward has connected on 59.0 percent of his field goal attempts following a Williams pass, according to NBA Stats, including a whopping 46.2 percent of his three-point shots. We all know how important it is for a Mavs primary ball-handler to establish a rapport with the No. 6 scorer in league history, and that two-man game has produced easy points all season long.
Williams presents multiple problems for opposing defenses, especially in the pick-and-roll. With is combination of vision, quickness, physicality, and a sharp jump shot, he’s able to impose his will on the game while also making the easiest decision. Basketball is complex but it’s not rocket science, and watching him play makes the game seem even less complicated.
First, the bread and butter of the Mavericks offense for the last 15 years: the 1-4 pick-and-pop.
This has been the go-to play for the Mavs since the dawn of Nowitzki’s career. As Williams comes off the screen, the defenders are forced either to switch or to stick to their man. Good point guards will recognize what the defenders choose and will make the appropriate decision. In this case, it was feeding Dirk for the open jumper.
Other times, they’ll both cling to Nowitzki, which in this case left Williams with an open drive.
Floaters aren’t easy, but Williams has already hit several this season. He’s 3-of-6 on such shots, according to Synergy Sports, and he hit two alone in the game against the Clippers. What makes floaters so effective is it’s nearly an impossible shot for a center to block due to the arc of the shot. A player like DeAndre Jordan has a clear physical advantage over the smaller Williams, but the ability to pull up for a runner eliminates that edge.
He also has the ability to pull up for mid-range shots coming off screens, which has made defending him even more difficult. When partnered with Zaza Pachulia in the pick-and-roll, he almost always gets a clean look, as the Mavs center buries Williams’ defender with the screen.
Naturally, the solution to stop this would for the big man to step out and contest the shot, but that doesn’t work against Williams, either, because he can either drive around slow-footed guys or make a pass to one of his teammates.
This is just a taste of what’s made the Mavs point guard such a dynamic player this season. He can pass and score, which is something many of the point guards of recent memory could not do. Even Jason Kidd, who won a title with the Mavs in 2011 and is a surefire Hall of Famer, couldn’t consistently score during that run the way Williams is right now. When the player running your offense is a threat to get 20 every night, the defense has to pull out every tool in the box to slow things down.
This is probably burying the lead a little bit, but Williams’ size is one of his greatest assets, more so than his speed or perhaps even his jump shot. Dallas has used him in the post fairly often this season, and it’s led to some easy points both for him and his teammates. One of the Mavs’ favorite plays is posting Williams up on the low block and sending Wesley Matthews off a double-screen at the top of the arc. It almost always results in an open three-pointer; Williams has the size and vision to see the entire floor against most point guards, so not only is he a threat to score himself, but he can distribute it from the post whenever he wants as well. Mavs shooters are 5-of-10 following a Williams pass from the post, according to Synergy Sports.
His ability down low has also forced opponents into some wonky matchup assignments. Against Boston, for example, Williams had a six-inch height advantage over Celtics starting point guard Isaiah Thomas. To avoid a major disadvantage, Celts head coach Brad Stevens instead put the larger Marcus Smart on Williams and slid Thomas over to guard Chandler Parsons. While that decision worked in the first half, as the Celtics used relentless double-teams on Parsons to blow up Mavs possessions, Dallas was able to make things work in the second half. Parsons scored a few points from the post and ultimately Boston had to resort to a more conventional defense once he exited the game. Meanwhile, that clearly didn’t bother Williams, as he shot 4-of-5 in the second half after a 1-of-6 first half.
The Mavs’ new point guard has been able to create offense both for himself and for others this season. After fighting through injuries to start the year, he appears to be quicker and more confident in recent games. We know that two-man game with Nowitzki is going to be money all year long, but if Williams can continue to elevate his game in other areas, there’s no real ceiling to what this team is capable of offensively.