Deron Williams was everything the Mavericks needed this year, and while he has had some health struggles and his contributions were largely overlooked, he's the stable presence needed to guide this team to truly competing in Dirk's twilight years. Here's what he brings to the table and why he'll be worth the price tag in this summer's free agent bonanza.
Deron Williams has indicated he will opt out of his player option for $5.5 million for the 2016-2017 season and instead enter into free agency during the largest cap boom in league history. Williams had a solid bounceback season in Dallas after the issues that plagued him in Brooklyn, and the PG market is fairly weak in free agency this year, with names like Jeremy Lin, Rajon Rondo, and Brandon Jennings as the headliners if Mike Conley stays home.
Key Information for Deron Williams’ Free Agency Period
Born June 26, 1984 (age 32 for 2016-17 NBA season)
$5.4 Million 2015-16 salary
Salary Last Year: 31st highest for a PG at $5.5 million
What salary will he get? Given the cap explosion and current salaries of average starting PGs, he’s likely
to ask for something in the neighborhood of $12 million, and may even command 3 years.
Williams’ Performance in the 2015-2016 Season:
Deron Williams was one of the most underrated aspects of a Dallas Mavericks season that had most pundits thrown off completely, as the team projected to miss the playoffs entirely managed to grab the eighth seed before injury felled the PG, among others, and the team bowed out with a pretty weak resistance to the surging, monstrous Thunder.
Rick Carlisle already has experience working with a guard very similar to Williams as well. Jason Kidd came to Dallas with a high IQ, defensive challenges, a three-point stroke that was improving late-career, and incredible passing vision. The key part of those teams, Dirk Nowitzki, is aging but efficient and the organization wants to compete for another championship before he retires. Williams could be an important part of achieving that goal.
While he missed some games and isn’t quite the finisher he once was, D-Will was one of the most efficient players in the league when you include possessions he finished either himself or by assist, ranking in the 93rd percentile, per Synergy. Although his assist percentage was the lowest it has been since his rookie season, that is in large part due to Carlisle’s offensive system. Watch these next couple clips to see how he can still handle every aspect of running an offense with excellence:
His timing is great, and his technical skills haven’t degraded with age (in fact, they have improved). These two clips are nothing special, but he knows the right timing to find Dirk in the first clip, and he knows just when to deliver the pass to the roll man in the second clip.
His experience comes into play too – he is calm, smart, and understands how defenses are going to rotate before they make the rotations. Watch the first clip as he controls the pace, finds a lane, drives to the basket, and finds the shooter. Then, watch as he fakes the pass to set up Matthews for an open three by forcing the rotation and then hitting Wes on the wing as soon as his defender has to move towards the lane to bump Dirk.
He remains able to take advantage of his size as well as any guard in the league. He can post up effectively and use his vision to find shooters all around the floor as the defense collapses.
The Mavericks Should Re-Sign Williams:
Want to know a different strong statistical comp for Williams at this stage of his career? Sam Cassell. Sam Cassell had a less auspicious start to his career than Williams did, but then went through some injury issues after a trade, and ended up on another team before starting to define a new role in Milwaukee after he turned 30. By age 32, Cassell was experiencing a late-career surge that would see him play until 38 and make the All Star game as a 34-year old point guard in Minnesota who stopped missing games a couple years before joining the Timberwolves and put it all together. After age 30, Cassell’s offenses were great, and he was a sieve on defense. Williams has the potential to do the same.
Deron Williams has a higher pedigree than Cassell ever did, but has similar shooting numbers and the same strong basketball IQ. With the right team around him, Williams could be a key part of a playoff push or two in the near future with Dallas.
He’s likely to ask for something in the neighborhood of around $12 million average annual value. As a percentage of the cap, it would make him a just-above-average starting PG by salary. By raw numbers, it looks like a lot, but with $20+ million cap spike this year, figures like that for a player of Williams’ caliber very well may be a bargain in two more years.