For the first time since coming to the Nets, Deron Williams is in the playoffs — where he excelled with the Jazz. In 44 playoff games with Utah, Williams averaged 21.1 points and 9.6 assists — better than his career averages (17.8, 9.0).
Williams, who turned down free-agent offers in the offseason to stay in Brooklyn, is the main reason why the Nets ended their six-year playoff drought.
The Nets are seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference and will open against the Bulls.
In 78 games, Williams averaged 18.9 and 7.7 assists and played particularly well since overcoming ankle injuries. In leading the Nets to a 6-2 record in April, Williams scored at least 29 points five times. In back-to-back games against the playoff-bound Celtics and Pacers, he averaged 31 points and 13 assists.
The next step: a deep playoff run. The Nets haven’t made it past the second round since 2003. Williams has made it as far as the conference finals once (Utah, 2007).