Saturday, July 6, 2013

Jason Kidd on Deron Williams: 'He's better than me'

Jason Kidd is considered one of the greatest point guards in NBA history but, as the new Brooklyn Nets head coach, the future Hall of Famer may have a knack for throwing assists to his players off the court as well.

Kidd, who led a group of no-name Nets to consecutive NBA Finals a decade ago, actually believes the Nets now have a better point guard in Deron Williams than his teams did with Kidd as the floor captain.

"He's better than me. I mean, he can shoot," said Kidd, who was the same age, 29, during the 2002 NBA Finals days as Williams is now. "He's a guy who can set the table, he can get to the basket, he can score. I don't look at him as me. Again, he's a little bit better than I am."

Kidd's humble opinion of himself might be a big ego boost for Williams — and boy, can the maligned Net use it.

Williams has seen more downs than ups since joining the Nets in 2011. He has struggled with injuries, weight gain and low expectations on a rebuilding roster in New Jersey. Last season, the first in Brooklyn,  he missed the All-Star game for the first time in four years.

But Williams benefitted from good health and a physical makeover following the All-Star break (he shed 15-to-20 pounds while changing his diet), returning to his Utah form for the greater part of two months.

And he has better supporting cast in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Brook Lopez.

Williams will still have to become a leader on a team now flush with with experienced NBA champions who bring high expectations with them.

"I want to (Williams) to be him," Kidd said Friday. "I want him to be the basketball player that we all know he can be. We're going to set lofty goals where as a coaching staff and teammates put him in a position to reach them."

While Williams is a better scorer than Kidd, he has a lot more to prove as a leader and all-around producer. That's what the Nets are hoping Kidd can bring out out of his floor leader.

Kidd said he'll allow Williams the freedom to call his own plays, as well as orchestrate his teammates in read-and-react situations.

"Just recognizing the situation," Kidd said. "Deron is a very gifted guard, so for me it's about mentally talking to him about different situations and get what he's thinking so we can both be on the same page."

Williams, who returned to his home in Utah for the summer, grew up in Dallas idolizing Kidd. Both have insisted their friendship won't get in the way of their new partnership.

"We're in a family," Kidd said. "My job is to put the guys in position to be successful. His job is to execute. We are friends. But I'm also friends with other players.

"I can't say I will favor or lean on whoever is playing the point because I have four other guys I have to pay attention to."

But Kidd knows — better than anyone — it starts with the PG.

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