It has been three years since Deron Williams has averaged more than 10 assists a game and head coach Jason Kidd is challenging him to return to that figure, Stefan Bondy with the New York Daily News reported on Monday.
Williams has always been one of the better passers in the NBA, but after averaging 12.8 assists in 12 games when he was first traded to the Nets in 2011, Williams' assist numbers have steadily declined. Last season, he averaged 7.7 a game -- his lowest average since his rookie year.
"I'm going to push him. I want the best for him," Kidd said after signing autographs at the Nets' merchandise store in Coney Island. "When we sit down and talk about goals, team goals and also individual goals, I'm going to push him and I want to get him back to double-digit assists."
A pass-first approach shouldn't come as a surprise from Jason Kidd, who has 12,091 assists over his 20 year career, good for second all-time behind John Stockton. Kidd himself averaged at least 10 assists per game three seasons in his career.
It will be interesting to see if Williams can rise to the expectations Kidd has placed on him. With the Nets acquiring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett over the offseason, they don't exactly have the youngest legs out of teams in the NBA. But Kidd loves Williams' open court vision and thinks he can do it as long as he stays healthy.
"When he lost the weight, physically he felt better. His strength is when he's in the open court. So we'll definitely talk about that on the daily, about him making things happen without having to set the ball up."
If Williams averages double-digit assists a game, he would most likely finish near the top at the end of the season. The NBA leader since the 2006-2007 season has averaged more than 11 assists a game.
Despite the statistical regression, Williams hasn't fallen too far from the upper-echelon of passers in the NBA. His 10.3 assists per game in 2010-2011 ranked third best in the NBA. His 7.7 per game mark last season was still good for fifth best.