Former NBA point guard Deron Williams has been in the headlines recently for his upcoming fight against former NFL running back Frank Gore. However, that shouldn’t overshadow his basketball career.
The fight will take place on Dec. 18 in Tampa, Florida on the Jake Paul-Tommy Fury undercard, as they’ll both be making their pro boxing debuts.
Emergence as One of the Top Young Point Guards in the Game
Williams was drafted by the Utah Jazz third overall back in 2005, one spot ahead of Chris Paul.
Once he got to Utah, success immediately followed, as he helped bring a Jazz team featuring Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer to the Western Conference Finals in 2007, his second in the league.
The Jazz never got that far into the playoffs again during Williams’s tenure in Salt Lake City, but it was to no fault of his own, as he averaged 21.1 points and 9.6 assists in 44 playoff games with the Jazz.
With his ability to stay in the lineup on a consistent performance with gaudy numbers posted in both the regular season and playoffs, Williams started gaining recognition as the best point guard in the league, rivaling CP3, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Derrick Rose and several others for that recognition.
However, a falling out between Williams and then-head coach Jerry Sloan led the Jazz to ultimately deal Williams to the then-New Jersey Nets, now Brooklyn Nets in February 2011.
Failing to Live up to Expectations
Williams was dealt to New Jersey to be the face of the Nets’ franchise as they were heading to Brooklyn, and early on, it appeared Williams was ready to live up to the challenge.
Williams dished out 47 assists through his first three games with the Nets, the most assists any player has ever had with their new team in that time span.
While the Nets were still in New Jersey, Williams continued to post superstar numbers while providing hope for a franchise that was starved for wins.
Before the 2012-13 season, the Nets officially made Brooklyn their new home, as Williams re-signed with the team during the offseason, joining forces with Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace in hopes to bring the franchise back to the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Overall, Williams’ first season in Brooklyn was successful, as he helped lead the Nets to a 49-33 record and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. However, the Chicago Bulls ousted them in seven games.
Still, Williams appeared primed to continue being one of the best point guards in the game, so the Nets went all-in on him and acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from the Boston Celtics to help add to their championship odds.
Both Garnett and Pierce expected Williams to be a contender for the MVP Award. However, Williams started to experience significant pain in both of his ankles, which impacted his ability to play up to expectations.
Because of his inability to play up to expectations, the Nets fell well short of their championship goals during the 2013-14 season.
After one season in Brooklyn, Pierce left for the Washington Wizards, but Garnett remained only to be traded back to his original team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, in exchange for Thaddeus Young.
The Nets found themselves back in the playoffs for the third straight season, this time as a team six games below .500 as an eighth seed.
The Nets were able to take two games from the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks, as Williams put up 35 points and seven assists in a thrilling victory in Game 4 of that series in front of a loud crowd at Barclays Center.
However, as was the case throughout his last two seasons in Brooklyn, Williams struggled with inconsistency for the team’s other five playoff games.
Both parties saw the writing on the wall, as they came to a buyout agreement during the offseason.
That freed Williams up to go play for his hometown Dallas Mavericks, as he found more success being home and in a situation where he didn’t have to be “the man.”
After a season and a half in Dallas, Williams moved on to the Cleveland Cavaliers in hopes to earn a championship ring with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, but unfortunately, Williams struggled to be a positive contributor during the NBA Finals, as he went scoreless in four out of the five games.
Williams never appeared in an NBA game after that point, but he still had a successful NBA career, as he’s a three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA Second Team selection.
It may not get him into the Basketball Hall of Fame, but his greatness on the court, as short-lived as it was, shouldn’t be forgotten and overshadowed by his upcoming fight.