Let’s forget about the Nets’ defense for a little bit, since they’ve forgotten about playing on that end of the court anyway lately. But their offense, even though they still struggle making shots, looks infinitely better since Deron Williams was acquired.
This was expected, but no one could have expected 17 assists in his second game as a Net, on the second game of a back-to-back, and on a night when his team misses 60 percent of its shots.
The Nets knew what they were getting when they sent Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two first-round picks and $3 million cash to Utah. Williams is one of the top three point guards in the game and may be first overall.
Nets general manager Billy King made a brilliant move to secure Williams when it appeared they weren’t going to get much at the trade deadline. But something that’s been a little overlooked is the role former Nets president Rod Thorn played in this.
Going back to last year’s draft when the Nets had the No. 3 pick, it was clear that DeMarcus Cousins was more advanced, more skilled and just an all-around better player today than Favors. But everyone also knew Cousins was a risk because of his temperament and attitude, which we have seen has gotten him into trouble in Sacramento.
During the whole process, Thorn repeatedly referred to Favors as “a chip,” “a chip,” “a chip,” and now everyone understands what he meant.
Cousins could have come in and brought the Nets toughness and skill down low, and probably helped them on the court right away. But they didn’t think it was worth the gamble or that he would have as much value around the league.
Favors, 19, is a gifted athlete with a tremendous upside and he never once caused the Nets a problem. Also, he was the centerpiece of all the talks for Carmelo Anthony and ultimately one of the players that got Williams away from Utah.
It’s going to take some time to see what kind of player Favors becomes because of how raw he is and how sometimes he doesn't play with any energy.
We never understood that because at 19, and being in the NBA and with a team giving you an opportunity to start and play through mistakes, Favors should have been non-stop energy, out-running and out-jumping opponents.
That’s just not his personality yet. It may never be. But it’s not the Nets’ concern anymore. King used “a chip” he inherited from Thorn and turned it into a superstar point guard.
Ultimately, it was King – and assistant GM Bobby Marks – who put together all the scenarios involving Favors. And it was King who made a pitch to his good friend and Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor to get Williams.
King’s timing was perfect. But the Nets also had some good luck in all of this in a backwards way.
After a 12-70 season, losing the Lottery seemed like the biggest injustice for one of the worst teams in NBA history. They hoped to be able to take potential franchise point guard John Wall.
But getting the No. 3 pick, and taking Favors, was the chip the Nets needed to get a real franchise point guard in Williams. Now the Nets have to make sure they keep him with the franchise after next season.
Williams makes his home debut tomorrow against the Phoenix Suns. It’s the start of a pseudo seven-game Nets’ homestand.
After this game, they play two games in London this weekend against Toronto that are considered Nets’ home games. They return next week and play four games in Newark.
Follow me on Twitter: @Al_Iannazzone
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)