On Tuesday, following his poor performance against the San Antonio Spurs the night before, Deron Williams was still down on himself about how the Brooklyn Nets $100 million star was playing this season.
Tonight, Williams gets a chance to face one of the NBA's elite point guards in Thunder star Russell Westbrook but takes an inferiority complex onto the court at Chesapeake Energy Arena with him.
The word elite gets thrown around a lot in sports these days and Williams knows his play doesn't warrant that description so far this season.
"I don't think I'm playing like [an elite point guard]," Williams told The New York Post before practice Tuesday. "I think I can be. But I've just got to figure this thing out."
Williams was being honest about himself but it's hard to argue with his own assessment of his season — especially when he is compared with Westbrook.
In 30 games, Williams is averaging 16.3 points and 7.5 assists while shooting a paltry 39.9 from the field and 30.0 from three-point range.
Better than average but not elite.
Williams whined about ex-Nets head coach Avery Johnson's system hindering his play. That is a moot point now. Johnson was fired last week and Williams is on his own.
Interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo has suggested that the pressure of being the $100 million face of the team could be contributing to Williams sub-par play.
"He is Deron Williams. He was Deron Williams (on Monday, when he finished with eight points and two assists), and that's fine," said Carlesimo. "Honestly, I don't want him thinking, 'I got to get 25 points, I got to get 11 assists, I got to get this, or I have to get this.' He's just gotta play"
But Williams is giving it some thought — maybe too much.
"I'm just overthinking," Williams admitted. "I've never been a player that can go out there and play and think ... I just react. Now, it's like I come off [a screen] and I'm thinking, 'Should I shoot this? Should I not?'
"I'm just ... I'm not playing the way I should be. That's all I mean. It's not injuries. It's just in my head, and I've got to get it out."