Part of the success of Dallas Mavericks point guard Deron Williams this season is credited to a change of scenery.
Williams played the previous four seasons in the New York media market, where many a player hasn’t been able to withstand the constant wave of criticism.
“It’s a crazy market, the back page of the [New York] Post, all the different things, everybody sees it, everybody want to comment about it, everybody’s got a comment,” owner Mark Cuban said. “It’s a great basketball town, so everybody wants to talk basketball.”
Williams signed a five-year, $98.7 million free agent contract with the Brooklyn Nets in July 2012. At the time, Williams was deciding whether to play for the Mavs or stay with the Nets.
The Nets bought Williams out of that contract for $27.5 million this past summer, paving the way for the 11-year veteran to sign with the Mavs.
Williams agreed that moving from New York to Dallas enabled him to get more comfortable with his overall game.
“It’s been a great move for me,” said Williams, who had 20 points and seven assists in Monday’s victory over the Knicks. “Just being a part of this organization and part of this team has been great for me in just having a fresh start.”
Cuban said Williams appears more relaxed now that the pressure to be the go-to guy has been lifted.
“It’s been tough on a lot of guys [playing in New York], especially when you’re the guy and the team is going through pressure,” Cuban said. “He handled it as best he could.
“I’m glad it didn’t work out [with the Nets].”
During the Mavs’ recruiting of Williams in 2012, he was a bit perturbed that Cuban didn’t make the trip to New York. But apparently all of that has been forgotten as the two often joke around.
“I just want to win and he just wanted to win,” Cuban said. “It was four years ago. Who remembers their freshman year girlfriend?”
Porzingis no Lin
For about six weeks during the 2011-12 season, New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin captivated a city — if not a nation — with his flair for the dramatic. But Lin since has faded from the headlines, has played for three teams and is currently with the Charlotte Hornets.
Fast-forward a little over three years and New Yorkers are hyped about 7-foot-3, 20-year-old rookie Kristaps Porzingis, the fourth pick of the draft. But this time, Cuban wanted to make one thing perfectly clear.
“Jeremy Lin went from undrafted to we had him on our summer league team to getting passed around,” Cuban said. “Jeremy Lin worked his way through — he wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
“Porzingis is the real deal. He’s got some [game] to him, and that’s the difference.”
Some are already comparing Porzingis to Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki.
Since coming to the NBA in 1998, Nowitzki has changed the power forward position through his shooting range.
Power forwards now are expected to be able to step out and drill a 3-point shot.
“When [Nowitzki] came in the league there was no guy that was the quintessential stretch power forward,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He has redefined that position, and in doing so he’s been a game-changer in a big way because there are now a generation of players in the last 10 years coming through and taking his examples.
“You very infrequently see power forward types that don’t shoot the ball well.”