Snapshot: A look back at Deron Williams, the savvy playmaker

Deron Williams had an ability to change pace that not only helped him burst past defenders, but also allowed his passing skills to be showcased.

A capable shooter, Williams was a savvy playmaker who could thrive in all areas of the floor, especially within the second level of an opposing defense. Whenever he created dribble penetration, he had good vision to find open teammates, but also enough quickness to drive to the hoop and score.

Williams played 12 NBA seasons and was a three-time All-Star. Some of his good years were with the New Jersey Nets, which moved to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season. He was traded to the Nets from the Utah Jazz during the 2010-11 season, and at the time, he was one of the top point guards in the league.

He had dueled with fellow playmakers Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo for the title of best floor general.

According to NBA.com stats, Williams, Paul, Nash and Rondo were each in the top five for assists per game during the 2010-11 season. Rondo ranked second behind Steve Nash averaging 11.2 assists, and Williams ranked third with 10.3 assists; Paul ranked fourth with 9.8 assists.

While with the Nets, Williams averaged 16.6 points per game, 7.5 assists and shot 35.8% from the 3-point line. He helped lead the Nets to the playoffs the first three seasons the franchise was in Brooklyn.

The farthest he went in the postseason with the Nets was in 2014, when Brooklyn lost in five games to the Miami Heat during the second round.

One of Williams’ best games ever came during his tenure with the Nets. On March 30, 2012, Williams tallied 20 assists — it was the sixth and final time he dished 20 or more assists in a game.

According to Basketball Reference, Williams has the third-most 20-plus assists games of the past 13 seasons. Rondo has the most with nine such games, and Nash ranks second on the list with seven.

The best season Williams had scoring-wise came during his time with the Nets, too. During the 2011-12 campaign, Williams scored a career-high 21.0 points per game and dished 8.7 assists. That season was the only time Williams ranked in the top 10 of the league for points per game.

In addition to Williams’ days with the Nets, his time with the Jazz was just as good. During his career with Utah, Williams averaged 17.3 points per game and 9.1 assists per game. After his first two seasons in the league, Williams reeled off four straight seasons of averaging a double-double.

He helped Utah go to the Western Conference Finals in 2007, when the franchise lost to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in five games.

Williams played for the Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers to end his career. He went to the NBA Finals with the Cavs in 2017, where he and the franchise lost in five games to the Golden State Warriors.

The change-of-pace dribble was Williams’ hallmark. As he blew past hapless defenders, he made plays that helped make his teammates better. He ended his career ringless, but at his peak Williams was a top-tier point guard.

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