The Nets inaugural season in Brooklyn mirrored Deron Williams‘ in some ways. Landing D-Will and moving to Brooklyn were both big splashes that came with high expectations, both were pretty decent too, but ultimately both were a disappointment. Multiple ankle injuries limited him and the Nets as a team couldn’t win a game seven, at home, against a team that was dealing with injuries to multiple players.
“I just think that if you look at game seven we were kind of soft. That’s the only way to put it,” Williams said.
“I don’t see that being an issue this year, us being soft or getting labeled as a soft team,” he continued. “I think the group we have is exciting. The coaching staff is exciting. We’re already working hard. We have an opportunity. We have a good group of guys that are going to have fun playing basketball and know when to be serious.”
He also shifted some of the blame to himself. “Personally, I just want to get better overall. The last couple of years have not been my greatest. So I just want to get back to where I was playing and get my confidence back to where it used to be.”
Of course, for Williams to get back to where he used to be, he’s going to have to be healthy. Just two weeks ago, D-Will was seen walking around Manhattan in a walking boot, having hurt his ankle again from one of his many random offseason activities. He seems confident that not only will he be able to play on opening night, he insists that the team is only being precautious.
“It’s getting better,” he said. “(Athletic trainer Tim Walsh) is going to make me take it slower. The main thing right now is I could probably go out there and do everything, but if I tweak my ankle, if I have a setback, then it won’t be good. Right now, we’re just going to take it slow.”
When asked how confident he was the he could play opening night he said, “I’m very confident. I can probably get out there and do everything right now, but Timmy won’t let me. That’s the bottom line.”
• Deron on the team’s talent level: “This is just what you could ask for as a point guard. This will be fun to have all of these options. You look at the starting five and everybody can pass, everybody can shoot, everybody can do so many things. It makes my job easier. I’m going to have a lot of weapons out there and coming off the bench too.”
• On the bench: “The bench is going to be huge for us. That’s one of our strengths is how deep we are. We have so many different lineups that you can put out on the floor. You can go big, you can go small. You are always going to be as good as your bench and if you look at some of the older guys that we have where you have to limit minutes and limit back-to-backs that’s where our bench is really going to be key for us.”
• On Game 7: “Why do you want to bring up old stuff? Of course that definitely leaves a sour taste in your mouth. We lost game seven in our building to a team that was missing three key guys. It’s definitely going to be fuel for this year.”
• On training camp at Duke: “Just getting away, focusing on basketball, not having 1000 people in practice everyday. It just gives us a chance to get away and focus and that’s the main reason we’re doing it.”
• On playing with Andrei Kirilenko again: “I’m excited about playing with him. I think that was a huge signing for us to be able to get him. What he brings to this team is going to be unmatched. He’s always been a guy that fills up the stat sheet, does it on both ends and can play so many different positions that he’ll be key.”
• On beating the Heat: “On paper we match up well. Those are guys that have won a lot of games, they’ve won two championships in a row and we’re just now getting started. We have a long way to go to be compared to that team. They’re a championship team and those are the aspirations that we have.”
• On team defense: “We can be a more efficient offensive team, we can definitely be a better defensive team and that’s the key for us this season is getting better defensively.”
• On Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry: “I think those two guys, three guys with JET, are three guys who have won championships. They’ve done it before,they know what it takes, their leadership, their mentality. Just being around those guys and that mentality, their professionalism, I think that’s the key for this group.”
• On ownership: “They definitely went all in. They definitely opened their wallets to spend the money to get guys in here. It’s definitely night and day from a couple of seasons ago in Jersey. The season where Brook (Lopez) was hurt and we had 10-day after 10-day. Now we have 15 guys on the roster, the roster is set with guys that are going to be with us for the long haul.”
• On the offense: “We’re going to run. We’re definitely going to run. I’m going to run. I’m gonna push the ball and hopefully they run with me.”