With the season at its precipice, most prognosticators will go up and down the Brooklyn Nets roster looking for "the guy."
This player will take the Nets to the promised land. That guy needs to improve. He will be an unheralded player this year. On and on the stories go.
But lost in the hoopla is Deron Williams, the point guard that many regarded as one of the league's best while in Utah. Well, they're not in Utah anymore, but the Nets hope the guard can summon his Jazz days.
On a team full of players who need the ball, Williams will ultimately command most possessions. The play originates with Williams, and he chooses where it finishes.
It's no secret that Williams' stock has dipped since coming over in a 2011 trade with the Jazz. The conversation included Williams, Chris Paul, and Derrick Rose. On the eve of the 2013-14 season, good luck finding the list that has Williams anywhere near the top.
He didn't lose his skill overnight, though. Williams has simply battled injuries since his first day in New Jersey. Even this season will open with questions surrounding an ankle injury that forced him to miss most of the preseason and training camp.
Williams dipped his toes in the pool in the final preseason game in Miami, a lopsided win over the Heat. He looked good and shot out the lights from three.
They need that kind of performance on a consistent basis this season. Williams no longer has the luxury of blaming lackadaisical teammates, a narrow-minded coaching staff, or a lack of talent around him.
"He just adds that dimension because of the way he shoots the ball, the way he pushes it," Paul Pierce said of Williams. "He’s just going to make us better. He makes life easier on the rest of us.”
And players like Pierce, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Kevin Garnett certainly make life easier on Williams.
Mikhail Prokhorov backed up the truck for Williams and made good on his promise to make the Nets everything they have become. Imagine, All-Stars as far as the eye can see. Sure, the roster features some age concerns, but nothing is perfect in a salary cap system.
There are no weak spots on this team. Williams can't use his teammates as an excuse if he doesn't bring "it" this year. "It" includes leadership, scoring, fast-breaks, and lightning-fast ball movement.
For Williams, this could be the year that brings him back to the top.