How Deron Williams and Joe Johnson Can Live Up to Their Enormous Contracts

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIJanuary 12, 2013

July 13, 2012; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets coach Avery Johnson , point guard Deron Williams , guard Joe Johnson and general manager Billy King pose for photos at a press conference at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are both signed to ridiculous long-term deals with the Brooklyn Nets, and there is literally only one way that they can live up their respective deals.

That's by bringing a championship to Brooklyn.

After this season, Williams is owed at least $18 million a year through the 2016-17 season. He'll make over $22 million that season alone.

Johnson, on the other hand, will be making upwards of $21 million each season through 2015-16.

The specifics on each contract, along with the rest of the contracts of the Nets, can be found here.

Williams was re-signed this past offseason to lead the new-look Nets to the top of the Eastern Conference. General manager Billy King gave him the weapons necessary (Johnson being one of them) to make some noise in the conference.

While things haven't started as well as they would have hoped (21-15 to date), there's still time to right the ship.

Both Williams and Johnson have underperformed this season—though they've started to pick it up.

Williams is currently averaging just 16.7 points per game on 40.8 percent shooting. He is dishing out just 7.7 assists per game and turning the ball over 2.4 times per game.

Johnson is averaging 17.0 points per game—his lowest average since 2004-05 in his last season with the Phoenix Suns—on 43.1 percent shooting. He hasn't exactly been the dynamic scorer that King thought he was acquiring during the offseason.

In the end, statistics don't mean a thing.

The only thing that matters is winning an NBA championship, and the success of each respective player's tenure in Brooklyn will be judged on how successful the team becomes.

To live up to their pricey contracts, Williams and Johnson need to act as team leaders and put the Nets on the right track to success.

Whether that be through taking over games or setting up their teammates in clutch situations, Williams and Johnson need to be the catalysts.

The same goes for off the court. Williams is the team's best player, and Johnson is a leader based purely on experience. Both players need to keep their teammates focused and prepared for every matchup and game situation.

If they can do that, the Nets stand a much better chance of winning a championship in the five-year window that owner Mikhail Prokhorov thrust upon them.

At the end of the day, Williams and Johnson need to do anything and everything in their power to propel this team to the top.

They may not be very far away from doing so, especially if Brook Lopez continues his growth and the right players join the team next offseason.

Of course, there's no writing them off just yet in 2012-13, but there are definitely some holes that need to be plugged—defensive specialists and a consistent power forward, to start.

Williams and Johnson will be mainstays over the course of their contracts, however, and they need to be prepared to compete with whatever King gives them.

Because, in the end, it doesn't matter who scored 20 points a game and which backcourt led the league in scoring. The only thing that matters is winning, and their legacies in Brooklyn will be noted as failures if at least one championship is not raised in the rafters of the Barclays Center.