Deron Williams' production improves during Nets' winning streak

USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn's PG has raised his play under P.J. Carlesimo. Is it sustainable?

The new year has been very kind to Deron Williams so far, as the Nets PG has played his best basketball of the season in a 4-0 stretch that began on Jan. 1.

In that time, he is averaging 20 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists while shooting 48 percent from the field and 50 percent from three, numbers far higher than his season averages.

Of course, the biggest difference has been the coach, not the calendar, as Brooklyn has gone 6-1 since P.J. Carlesimo replaced Avery Johnson. Five of those games have come against teams under .500, but it's not like Williams was lighting the world on fire against anyone in the first two months of the season.

After their 109-89 win over the 76ers on Tuesday, Williams credited his improvement to feeling fresher physically (courtesy of the New York Post):

"I definitely felt good today," Williams said. "I've been doing a lot more treatment and being smarter about my minutes in practice and things like that. I'm taking a lot less pounding, and I feel a lot better. I've got more lift and explosiveness, which I was lacking earlier."

Going forward, the biggest question facing the Nets is whether their All-Star PG can continue to play at a high level and justify the massive five-year, $99 million contract he received in the off-season.

And while four games is hardly a big enough sample to draw too many meaningful conclusions, digging deeper into the data from 2013 does reveal some encouraging signs for Brooklyn fans.

The biggest change for Williams in their four-game win streak has been his efficiency as a jump-shooter.

He has one of the prettiest-looking strokes in the NBA, but he was averaging only 38 percent on shots taken from 16-23 feet and 31 percent from beyond the three-point arc in 2012. In 2013, he is 7-14 from 16-23 feet and 10-20 from long distance.

Part of that might just be regression to the mean: throughout his career, Williams has been much a better jump-shooter than what he has shown this season. But what's really intriguing is where those shots have come from: over half have come off assists, as opposed to Williams creating his own shot 1-on-1. (All info courtesy of Hoopdata.com)

Williams, of course, made a splash earlier in the season when he criticized Avery's isolation-heavy offense and compared it unfavorably to the flex offense he ran in Utah. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd made many of the same criticisms when they helped ease Avery out of Dallas in 2008.

We will need far more data before we can come to any conclusions, but the early returns under Carlesimo seem to indicate that Williams was on to something.

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