After spending the better part of six seasons with the Utah Jazz to begin his career, Deron Williams was traded in a blockbuster mid-season deal to the New Jersey Nets on February 24, 2011. The trade re-shaped the landscape of the NBA, particularly the Eastern Conference, as Deron joined the Nets and made them into a playoff team.
D-Will played in just 12 games after the trade that season on a Nets team that had struggled mightily prior to Deron’s arrival. Deron shined in the few games he played for his new team, averaging 15.0 points and 12.8 assists to finish the season. More importantly, the future became much brighter for the Nets’ franchise with Deron on the roster for the following season.
A lockout shortened the 2011-12 season, but the Nets showed signs of improvement, winning 22 games in a 66-game season, as compared with 24 wins in a full 82-game schedule a season prior. There were many memorable moments throughout Deron’s first full season with the Nets, including a career-high 57 point outburst against the Charlotte Bobcats and his third All-Star Game appearance as he averaged 21 points per game during that season.
After that season, the Nets’ franchise underwent a remodel, moving to Brooklyn and changing their colors to black and white.
With those changes came success for Brooklyn. Deron and Joe Johnson led the team to a playoff berth in 2013, the franchise’s first since 2007. The playoff berth would be the first of three consecutive trips to the postseason.
D-Will’s star power and success helped revitalize a franchise that hadn’t had much to cheer about since the days of Jason Kidd and Vince Carter. He helped usher in a new logo in a new city by leading the team to the playoffs in each of their first three seasons in Brooklyn. Alongside the likes of Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Brooklyn Nets became one of the must-watch teams in the NBA.
After the 2015 season, Deron moved on with his career to join his hometown Dallas Mavericks and finish his career with Cleveland Cavaliers. However, his time running the point for the Nets included some of the best basketball of Deron’s career, and it was made possible by a trade-deadline deal during this week in eight years ago.