By Paul M. Banks
Is anyone in the NBA playing better at “the one” right now than Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz? No!
This season, the University of Illinois product has surpassed the point guard he’s most often compared to: New Orleans’ Chris Paul. CP3 has battled injuries this season and the Hornets didn’t make the postseason. Tony Parker is past his prime. Steve Nash is still transcendent (on offense anyway, not so much on defense). Chauncey Billups simply doesn’t measure up to D. Will. And Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo aren’t there yet.
Williams is looking like one day he’ll end up with a better career than the guy most scouts compared to when he came into the league- Jason Kidd.
Williams is the best point guard in the league.
Yes, indeed it’s that time of year again. This would be the fourth annual “I have a deep man-crush on Deron Williams” column. Except this time the article was triggered by recent comments made by Williams himself.
“If you are a competitor, you are going to think you are the best at something,” Williams said. “It’s as simple as that. That’s how you keep your edge. That’s how you stay focused, stay sharp.
This postseason, Williams became the first player in NBA history to start a playoff series with five straight games scoring at least 20 points and dishing at least 10 assists. Only Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson, other than Williams himself accomplished four.
“Those guys are legends, man. It’s great to be mentioned with them. I’m honored, but there’s really no comparison,” Williams said.
Part of what makes Williams just so good, and I mean soooooooooo good, is the fact that he plays the game with a chip on his shoulder. The last few years, he’s been out to redeem the All-Star snub, and he’s progressed from Carlos Boozer’s second banana to indisputable Utah team leader and top gun. He’s also changed the whole dynamic of the Deron Williams vs. Chris Paul debate. And it’s an honest debate when you consider that Paul plays the exact same position and was taken a couple picks ahead of Williams in ’05.
In college at Illinois Williams was overshadowed by teammate Dee Brown, who went on to have a cup of coffee in the NBA, and that’s it.
In high school he was a kind of second banana to Bracey Wrightm who went on to end up as Indiana’s 15th all-time leading scorer. That’s the extent of Wright’s accomplishments. He’s with Base Oostende in Europe these days.
So keep doubting Williams and he’ll keep proving you wrong. Look at the progress of his career, he maybe the best Illini pro of the modern era already, as no other former Illinois baller in the past 50 years has made to onto Team USA and an NBA All-Star team.
Here’s the complete Sports Bank Deron Williams anthology
The 3rd annual man-crush column
Case for Williams being best Illini pro everPowered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks