Joe Johnson hasn’t played with a point guard like Deron Williams, and Williams has never had a shooting guard like Johnson. Together, they should be a lethal combination for the Brooklyn Nets.
Having Williams by his side should make things easier for Johnson. He can just be a scorer and not worry about facilitating or do most of the heavy lifting each and every night, something he had to do during his time as the alpha dog in Atlanta. Having a proven All-Star guard such as Williams, who has ranked in the top five in assists for six straight seasons, will make Johnson a better player — and he knows it.
“We’ll make each other better. Just him taking pressure off me, and me getting a lot of more catch-and-shoot and not having to beat two or three guys,” Johnson told TNT’s David Aldridge. “I just think you won’t be able to double- or triple-team guys now.
“We both know and understand that we both need to lead this team in the right direction.”
The Nets’ franchise arrow is pointing upward. The team is moving into an ideal situation in Brooklyn, where it could legitimately compete for bragging rights in New York with the Knicks and it will christen a brand new, state-of-the-art 19,000 arena on Atlantic Avenue — Barclays Center. Billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov made sure he had headliners to break in his hoops haven. Johnson and Williams leads a very good Nets starting lineup that includes small forward Gerald Wallace, power forward Kris Humphries, and center Brook Lopez.
“People are now figuring out that you can’t win with just one guy, or two guys even,” Johnson said. “You gotta have multiple players. Here in Brooklyn we got a lot of players who can get the job done. We feel we have a great chance.”
Williams and Johnson are 20-point scorers, while Lopez is a very good low-post scorer. So offense won’t be a problem for the Nets. Head coach Avery Johnson will stress defense to his squad, which means he’ll lean on Wallace to set the tone. The man nicknamed “Crash” is one of league’s top defenders and he’ll have something to prove this season after being traded from Portland.
“I’m excited about the team, I think we have a good team. We have an underrated team; a lot of underrated individuals,” Williams said. “It’s a fresh start for everybody. It’s a new organization, new arena, just new feeling.”
How good can the Nets be this season? “It depends on how quickly we gel,” Williams said. “[Depends] on how we come together as a team, how good we come defensively. That’s the biggest key for us.”