D-Will wants Nets to “take another step” this season

Deron Williams is entering the 2014-15 season with a lot of pressure on him, as he has not lived up to the expectations of the five-year, $100-million contract he signed a couple of years ago. This offseason, he had surgery on both of his ankles, in the hopes that he will be fully healthy and can regain his status as one of the top point guards in the NBA.

The first question he faced on Media Day was about his health, and Williams said, “I don’t think I’m a hundred percent yet just because I have only had a month, but I’m pretty close, still gaining strength, getting confidence on it, but I have played 5-on-5. I feel like I’m at least 20 percent better than I was all of last year.”

D-Will said of the effect the health of his ankles had on his play last season, “Ankles definitely bothered me all of last year, you know, to an extent, it doesn’t really matter, it’s behind us. I’m glad I got the surgery done and am looking forward to this season.”

Williams said of the Eastern Conference, “I think it’s wide open. Teams definitely got better, you look at Cleveland, they got better, Washington got better, teams got better, Chicago, then you’ve got teams like Toronto that are still going to be good teams. The East is wide open though, I feel like we can compete in the East, I feel like it’s kind of there for the taking.”

Williams said of the differences between former Head Coach Jason Kidd and his replacement Lionel Hollins, “I didn’t know much about Coach Hollins coming in. I knew he was a great coach, did a great job in Memphis. I’m sure there’s gonna be some differences, that’s pretty much the case with every coach. Talking to him, I feel like he’s gonna be great for us for what we’re trying to accomplish here. It was definitely a strange situation that went down this summer, but I think it’s behind us now and we look forward to him (Hollins) being our coach.”

On if Hollins is the new voice this team needs, Williams said, “Sure, this is the fourth one in three years, so hopefully this will be the right voice.”

On motivation coming into this season after losing in the playoffs to Miami last season, Williams said, “It’s always motivating anytime you lose in the playoffs. We’re gonna look to improve, we’ve improved every year, and hopefully we take another step this year as well.”

D-Will continued on that point, “I was motivated last year too, it just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. I’m motivated every year. I want to win, I think that’s what motivates me, and this year is no different except for I had the ankle surgeries that will hopefully take care of the issues I had the past couple of years.”

On Kevin Garnett returning, Williams said, “I think having another year together helps. KG’s gonna be fine, I thought he had a great year last year. There were some games he might have struggled and that comes with getting older, you know, having 19 years in this league, he’s so smart, you know mentally he’s so smart and what he brings to this team leadership-wise cannot be forgotten about. We’re excited to have him back, you know, excited for him to be on our team. Just the knowledge that he gives the young guys,  I think he’s the reason why Mase (Mason Plumlee) has developed so fast, is because he’s got one of the best players ever to play this game, one of the best big men to ever play this game, coaching him.”

On Hollins restoring the “big” lineup with Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez in the frontcourt that they began last season with, Williams said, “I don’t even remember that, it was so long ago. We just didn’t start off good last year, whatever the reason was, you know, I was hurt, missed games, Paul (Pierce) missed games, Brook got injured, so I don’t think it was just when we had the big lineups that we were struggling. Once we figured things out, we did better. That’s the main thing, just try to gel as quickly as possible this year, use training camp and preseason to our advantage so we don’t have those troubles early. Hopefully, everybody being healthy helps.”

On what he has seen of some of the new players on the Nets like Jarrett Jack and Bojan Bogdanovic, Williams said, “We’ve played pretty much just 5-on-5 or 4-on-4, so it’s kind of hard to tell, but I think everybody looks good, everybody looks like they’re in shape, everybody’s working hard, not only in the scrimmage, but in drills. That’s the most important thing is everybody in shape and ready to go. We have a month to see where everybody’s at, and guys looks good.”

On his impressions of Brook Lopez, who is recovering from a foot injury, Williams said, “He’s looked really well. His weight is good. Of course, rust is gonna be there for anybody that has missed a full year. He looks healthy, he looks great.”

D-Will was asked if he has any individual goals set for this year, and he dismissed it with a simple “Nope!”


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