Since arriving in Cleveland in late-February, Deron Williams hasn't had much of an opportunity to get comfortable in his wine and gold threads. He's played just six games in a Cavaliers uniform, and was instantly thrown into the fire when he played 24 minutes in his very first game, a nationally televised bout with Boston in which Williams took, and missed, what would've been the game-winning shot.
His minutes have tapered off a bit since that auspicious start, with Williams playing over 20 minutes just twice since then, and he's appeared hesitant as he attempts to feel out his role on a team that is still searching for a consistent identity. He took just one shot in 17 minutes against Atlanta, though he dished out 7 assists. He took only three shots in a loss to Miami, then followed that up with a one-shot performance in a loss against Detroit.
Even more frustrating has been Williams' timidness beyond the 3-point arc, where he's continually swung the ball around the perimeter instead of hoisting what many times is an open shot for himself. It's a symptom of finding your way and your role with a new team, but last night in Orlando, Williams finally looked comfortable, especially when LeBron James was with him on the floor.
The two have only shared the court for a total of 62 minutes, per nbawowy, and their chemistry is still being workshopped. But the Cavs post an offensive rating of 114 when both men are on the floor, and Williams' offensive game blossoms when LeBron is by his side. Williams is shooting 62.5 percent from the field when he and LeBron share the same lineup card, including a ridiculous 80 percent shooting on 2-pointers.
The two have slowly begun to develop a nice little two-man game as well. Both Williams and LeBron thrive when working off the pick and roll, and in Orlando, you can see just how devastating that combination can be.
In the second quarter of the Cavs eventual 116-104 win over the Magic, Williams and LeBron ran a dribble hand-off into a pick and roll which led to a nasty LeBron jam as he came free on his roll to the rim .
Later on in the fourth quarter, LeBron again set a pick for Williams. As LeBron rolled, C.J. Watson, who was guarding JR Smith on the perimeter, drifted into the lane because of how worried Orlando's defense was about LeBron. This left Smith wide open, and Williams found him for a big 3-point make.
Finally, as the clock ticked under 4 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, LeBron lost Aaron Gordon in the paint, and Williams hit him with a perfect entry pass for a wide open lay-up. Williams even hit two 3's himself last night, one coming off a nice find from, who else, LeBron James.
Williams has thrown 34.7 percent of his passes in Cleveland to LeBron, the most by a significant margin (he's thrown 14.7 percent to Kyle Korver, his second-highest total). LeBron is shooting a robust 57.1 percent on direct assists from Williams, including a cool 60 percent from deep.
How much shared floor time the two men will receive as they get more comfortable together remains to be seen, though head coach Tyronn Lue seems to like pairing them together in fourth quarters. Last night was just a glimpse of how well the two veterans can play off each other, and it should only improve as the season moves along, and will hopefully be refined once the playoffs arrive in April.