As I’m sure many of you may have heard, New Orleans point guard Rajon Rondo underwent surgery Tuesday for a sports hernia injury suffered in game 2 of this years preseason. Because of this, the veteran is looking at a 4-6 week recovery period, leaving the Pelicans backcourt slimmer than a Victorias Secret model. With their first regular season matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies rapidly approaching, NOLA must figure out soon what they intend to do with their current vacancy at the point guard position.
Should they insert one of their bench players to fill the void at point guard? Maybe designate fellow starter Jrue Holiday as the teams main distributer, a role he has held for the past 4 seasons? While these all seem like viable options, there is still one other route they can venture to; the Free-Agent market. And with that, there is one specific player that seems to stand out among the rest.
3x All-Star Deron Williams.
Now listen, before you dismiss this idea, please here me out! I’m not saying Deron Williams is still an All-Star caliber player. I’m not saying he’s still a franchise cornerstone. Heck, I’m not even saying he could be the best player on a team. What I am saying is, he’s still a solid role player with a high basketball IQ who knows how to get his teammates the ball.
Last year, Williams finished the season coming off the bench for the runner-up Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging a career low 20.3 MPG. With his restriction in playing time, the point guard put up a “role players” stat-line of 7.5 PPG, 3.6 APG and 1.9 RPG (per ‘Basketball Reference‘). According to ‘basketball-reference.com’, in a “per-36 minutes” translation, Williams would have averaged 13.3 PPG, 6.4 APG and 3.3 RPG.
While D-Will is no longer a player who will average those amount of minutes per night, for the first 40 games of last season the point guard put up a not too different MPG average while sporting a Mavericks jersey.
In Dallas, Williams was playing his 14th consecutive season as a starting point guard in the NBA. Playing 29.3 MPG Williams put up 13.1 PPG, 6.9 APG and 2.6 RPG (not too different than his “per-36” with Cleveland). Because of these stats, it proves that when given enough time, the 16-year veteran can still serve as a competent contributor to a team.
Again, I am not saying Williams can lead a team all by himself. He’s an aging guard with a fading scoring touch. However, as he has proved these past couple of years, even with a deteriorating game, when surrounded by offensive talent (Lebron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love, etc.) Williams can still be a contributing factor to a ball club, specifically in the passing game.
Enter the New Orleans Pelicans.
This summer, New Orleans signed veteran point guard Rajon Rondo to take the load off of Jrue Holiday and become the teams primary facilitator. With this, the hope was that it would get the ball movement rolling, while allowing Holiday to focus more on scoring. Unfortunately, as of last week, it is reported Rondo will be sidelined 4-6 weeks while recovering from Sports Hernia surgery.
Because of this unfortunate injury, the Pelicans are now without a main ball-distributor for an offense who needs one now, more than ever. With offensive juggernauts such as Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins sharing the floor, having a guy to feed them the ball is vital. It’s quite possible that without a competent facilitator, a lack of touches could lead to problems for Cousins and Davis. A lack of touches could lead to frustration. Frustration could lead to an offseason exit via Free Agency for DeMarcus Cousins.
Although Rondos injury is only expected to keep him out for a month or so, there is simply no time to waste for the Pelicans. Playing in the overwhelmingly talented Western Conference, every game is important for a team vying for a postseason birth. Should the Pelicans panic and go after a replacement player that could potentially hinder future plans for the organization?
Of course not!
By signing a guy like Williams, it not only would benefit the teams passing game in the absence of Rondo (8.1 APG for his career), but it also would not necessarily have a negative impact on the teams salary cap/ future options. While the Free-Agent does not appear to have many offers on the table thus far, a veterans minimum contract ($1.4 Million) may be all it takes to entice the the point guard to sign with New Orleans.
Look, say what you will about Williams; “He’s injury prone”, “old”, “has lost a step.” But with all these statements, it’s unfair to say he doesn’t deserve to be on an NBA roster this season. The man’s only 33-years old! After all, there was a point in time where the big NBA debate was “who’s better; Chris Paul or Deron Williams?”
While that point in time has come to pass, it shouldn’t, by any means, be ignored. Can Deron Williams still be a capable role player for a team littered with talent like New Orleans? Well, if given an adequate amount of playing time, as he proved with Dallas last season, he sure can!
Should the New Orleans Pelicans “without a doubt” sign Deron Williams? Of course not! As of right now, there are no Free-Agents that are sure fire signings. However, with a lack of depth at the position and a need for a talented distributor, D-Will could be a useful pickup.
If I’m the Pelicans, I’d at least consider it!
All statistics and salary information are provided by ‘basketball-reference.com‘