By Paul M. Banks
When the Chicago Bulls welcome the Utah Jazz tonight, you’ll hear a lot of applause and cheering for one specific opposing player: Deron Williams. And he’s not from here either, he’s actually from Dallas. But his collegiate heroics (including a few memorable moments that occured in Chicago) make him a fan favorite in the Chi.
During the first four years of Deron Williams’ professional career, the Jazz were regarded as “Williams and Boozer’s” team. And because the golden era in Utah Jazz history centered around Karl Malone and John Stockton, two guys who played the exact same positions (power forward and point guard) as Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams, it became impossible not to compare the current combination with the legendary duo from the ’90s.
However, this is the season that Williams has really asserted himself as the Jazz’ most valuable player, not just co-MVP. Make no mistake, Boozer is no slouch. He was named Western Conference Player of the month for February, and he just edges out Williams as Jazz leading scorer. But the front office has flirted with the idea of moving “Booze.” The concept of letting Deron go is unfathomable. He is their floor general in the purest sense of the word: their leader and coach on the floor when times get tough.
The Jazz, traditionally not a very good team away from home, have as many road wins now as they did all of last season.
“It’s a good sign, we just gotta beat the teams that we’re supposed to beat,” Williams said after his team reached that mark.
The Jazz are 19-5 when he scores 20+ points in a game and 5-1 when he has 15+ assists. And he’s doing it all despite a ton of lingering pain in his shooting wrist.
“I’m just back and forth trying to fnd something. I tried a brace, tried tape, I wanna play with nothing on it…You gotta play through it because at any time in the game I could land on my wrist. I could just hold somebody up and it will start hurting again,” Williams said following Utah’s 116-108 win at Phoenix.
The All-Star Williams is currently third in the NBA in assists and holds a special distinction among the league’s top point guards. In that group (Chauncey Billups, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Tony Parker and Chris Paul) Williams is the only one whose scoring and assists averages increased during each of his first four seasons. Therefore, it seems like the best days are still ahead for D. Will.
And the start of his career hasn’t been too bad either, as he averaged more points, rebounds, and assists than the immortal John Stockton did his first four seasons.