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2011 Year in Review. December 15. Minor setback for Williams as Nets remain a team in flux....A Story from New Jersey Nets camp by John Nestor.

POSTED January 01, 2012
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

New Jersey Nets head coach Avery Johnson talks to the media after morning practice on Wednesday at the teams training facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Johnson spoke highly of former Torrington star Jordan Williams and how his first year player had been making progress early in camp.

East Rutherford, N.J. - The New Jersey Nets are a work in progress and so is rookie forward Jordan Williams.

While the Nets continue to look to build their roster with Orlando Magic All-Star Dwight Howard the piece they most want to add to the mix, the rest of the team continues to work toward the Dec. 26 opener at Atlanta.

A second-round pick out of Maryland, Williams was held out of practice Wednesday and is expected to miss anywhere from 5-7 days after suffering from dehydration.

New Jersey coach Avery Johnson said after practice Wednesday morning that Williams started to feel ill after Tuesday’s practice.

“He’s going to be out for a while,” Johnson said. “He’s getting some IV’s right now, and he’s over at the doctor’s office. He’s had some issues in practice, in terms of breaking down a little bit, so we’ve got to keep a close eye on him.

“The main thing is, the kid was working really hard in practice, he didn’t ask out of any drills, but he was really losing weight at a really high level that concerned us. Other issues, medical issues that came up in practice."

Now Williams will be given some time to recover and then will have a chance to make his mark on a team that is dying for help on the front line. The current camp roster includes four players from the D-League that were called up to give the Nets enough practice bodies.

The Nets want to add Howard to pair him with point guard Deron Williams and take another step toward building a contender in the East as they prepeare to move to Brooklyn. But even if New Jersey does add Howard, they are going to need a player, or more likely players, to step up at the forward spots.

Williams looks likely to play power forward where he can utilize his size (6-10, 260) and hit the boards, which he did at Maryland. Williams led the ACC in rebounding last season as a sophomore (11.8) as he set a school record with 25 double-doubles. Now it will be about a week until Williams can show Johnson more of what he can do, but the coach took Tuesday's setback in stride and has liked what he has seen so far in camp.

"Jordan will be fine and we aren't too concerned, we weren't counting on him to be a heavy rotation guy right away," Johnson said. "I have liked his work ethic and his rebounding. He was working hard, coming along and his jumper, that 12, 15-footer was coming back too."

And that will be Williams role, hit the boards, knock down open mid-range jumpers and establish himself as a rookie in the NBA.

It's a process. That's one word Johnson used multiple times Wednesday, wether it was talking about his roster, the rebuilding job he faces with the Nets or training camp, Johnson referred to it all as a process.

It's also a process that has been disrupted by the lockout, resulting in abbreviated training camps and just a pair of exhibition games before the league opens on Christmas Day. The uncertainty that reigned over the league and lack of contact between teams and players has been enough to affect a number of veterans, let alone rookies.

"I think it could have contributed to it," Johnson said of the lockout when asked if it led to Williams' setback. "But it has affected a lot of players, including veterans, so it definitely could have had an impact on some of the rookies as well."

When Williams does come back there is no telling what the roster will look like. Johnson said he is taking things day by day but did admit that his roster needs some work. Wether or not that means Howard is a Net soon remains to be seen, but there is a sense in the air at Nets camp that changes are coming.

“No, we’ve got to still upgrade it,” Johnson said when asked if the current roster was to his liking for the Dec. 26 season opener in Washington. “However we do it, it’s still got to be upgraded. We all know where the holes are in our roster, so we would still have to upgrade it. Big or small, or medium, we’ve got to do something.”

And so does Williams, who looks to be in the right spot to make an impact once he gets back on the court because the current Nets roster has holes and Williams has the game and ability to plug some of them.

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