Deron Williams schools Jeremy Lin by dropping 38 on him

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Deron Williams made a statement with his game. He said “welcome to the big boy table Jeremy Lin, this is how we do it here.” Or maybe “I’m getting sick of hearing about Linsanity, let’s silence it.”

The New York Knicks lost for the second time in the Lin era falling to the rival New Jersey Nets 100-92. Williams scored a season high 38, with eight 3s and 6 assists, absolutely putting a clinic on the international media sensation. And you might have seen this coming, given how D. Will reacted to questions about Lin a few days ago:

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Deron Williams does Jerry Sloan Damage Control, Likely Leaving Next Year

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How did NBA coaching legend Jerry Sloan go from re-signing to resigning in a whopping five days? Conventional wisdom says that he was forced out, and that former Illini legend Deron Williams was the ring-leader in getting Sloan run out of town.

If true, it makes Deron look like a petulant pud to say the least. This was a PR catastrophe on all levels, whether it’s accurate or not. The World Wide Leader, the evil empire, the mothership of ESPN seems to be on Williams’ side, shifting the issue to other less salient points, and the blame elsewhere.

Still, you can’t un-ring this bell, and the dominant narrative still seems very likely to me. Despite what Williams is doing today to dispell that notion.

By Paul M. Banks

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Demetri McCamey’s NBA Draft Stock Rises with Illini Wins

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When Illini point guard Demetri McCamey was a freshman, he was a highly regarded recruit with a few explosive games but also terrible choice in shot selection. His sophomore year, the Illini needed a leader and a closer and McCamey developed into that go-to-scorer. He developed immensely on offense, but was still non-existent on defense.

Meechi’s junior season, he pretty much WAS Illini basketball. He made huge strides in his individual game despite his team’s considerable regression. McCamey became the team’s unquestioned leader, but wasn’t vocal enough in asserting his leadership. He finished second in the nation in assists, and broke a single game school record in that same statistic.

He tested the waters of the NBA draft, and learned what he needed to do when returned to Champaign.

By Paul M. Banks

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Is Derrick Rose the Next Deron Williams?

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With the signing of three former members of the Utah Jazz, the Chicago Bulls earned the nickname “Utah Midwest” this summer. Bulls fans hope they don’t become “Utah Jazz East,” as in the Jazz of the Eastern Conference postseason because Utah’s recent playoff experience is not worth emulating.

You’ve heard the expression “NBA Hell?” Well, that’s exactly where Utah is- a place where the ceiling has been reached and every May just repeats itself like the movie “Groundhog Day.”

One aspect of the Jazz certainly worth emulating is the play of their point guard. In recent years, we’ve seen University of Illinois product Deron Williams evolve into the greatest ex-Illini in the professional ranks, and later the greatest overall point guard.

Can Derrick Rose make a similar leap? A couple of Williams’ former teammates believe so.

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Deron Williams IS THE BEST PG in the NBA

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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.

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Did you see Deron Williams Posterize Derrick Rose?

Video and screen capture from the Utah Jazz blowout of the Chicago Bulls last night. Whoever keeps saying Deron Williams is fat; is a complete MORON. Remember, as every announcer says “he’s deceptively quick” and “he’s just big and so strong.”

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Deron Williams is Utah’s Leader Now

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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. [Read more…]

Jazz-Suns will be the BEST Playoff Series Ever!

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By Paul M. Banks

PHOENIX, AZ- Utah’s 116-108 victory over the Phoenix Suns Thursday night felt like a playoff precursor of exciting things to come. The high-scoring affair saw Utah race back from ten points down in the fourth quarter and it put the Jazz 1.5 games ahead of Phoenix in the Western Conference playoff race. If current standings hold, the Jazz would have home court advantage in a first round playoff match-up against these same Suns that would undoubtedly be the most exciting pairing of all.

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Deron Williams, All-Star: About Frickin Time!

By Paul M. Banks

Yesterday was a glorious day that I have waited a long time for. It felt exactly like a special night about 14 years ago when a T.F. South high school cheerleader took…well never mind, let’s just focus on the now.

Deron Williams will return to his hometown as an NBA All-Star. The former Illini will suit up for the Western Conference Feb. 14 NBA at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, according to the report. The Utah Jazz point guard is the first NBA All-Star from Illinois since Don Ohl in 1967, according to UI sports information.

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Illini Leading Scorer Demetri McCamey Exclusive

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By Paul M. Banks

When it comes to Illini junior point guard Demetri McCamey, perhaps his Coach Bruce Weber describes him best. “If you study him over the course of time, he has very good games and a tendency not to be real consistent, this goes back way to high school and AAU and that’s where he’s got to mature. He has the big one and then average, average. He needs to be more consistent if we’re going to be a very good team because he can do things that other people can’t do,” Weber said this season.

Last season McCamey was the Illini’s leading scorer and became the man the team went to when a last second game winning shot was needed. As evidenced by his buzzer beater at Northwestern, he started to become a clutch player. The third-team All-Big Ten selection led the Illini in scoring and was second on the team and fourth in the conference in assists, He also led the Big Ten in assists during conference play, and finished second to Kalin Lucas in the league in assist/turnover ratio.dwilliams_feature01

But his game still needs polish which I discussed with both him and Coach Weber extensively during the season. His shot selection is sometimes suspect: “When my little brother says it than I know everybody notices, my little brother told me I was settling for too many threes, so I got to get back to attacking the paint like I used to,” McCamey said.

His work ethic needs improvement and his defense can often be non-existent. However, he’s also the Illini player with the most athleticism and star potential. On a team that will be ranked in everyone’s top 25 next season, that’s quite a compliment. “He’s got to learn the game: how to use screens, how to play without the ball, and if he could do that he could be the guy. He passes well, shoots the three, he’s got a big body and can pull-up,” Weber said.

McCamey is often criticized, by Coach Weber and Big Ten announcers alike, for his work ethic, but Demetri says he’s dedicated to edifying and bettering himself…

“A student of the game, that’s the only way you’ll get better. It’s all about making the right decision and every possession is worth something. Coach McClain and I watch film, I like to come in and watch film. If I’m at home, my roommate Alex {Legion} and I- that’s all we do is watch college and NBA basketball.”

watch the video below to get to know him better. He mentions former Illini Deron Williams as his favorite player to look up to.


And for excelling in the role of true point guard/go-to guy-“It’s not just scoring for me, especially on the defensive end and becoming a leader, being more vocal- don’t yell at guys, pick your spots and be a true leader.” Demetri is often candid about how he has to improve his defense, but I asked him what else he needs to improve?

“Standing up a lot and watching instead of attacking, sometimes I rely on my teammates too much when I can just push the ball and make plays happen instead of just trying to wait for them to happen. It’s being aggressive all the time and take every play like it’s your last and make the right decision,” he responded.

Current Bull and NBA Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose is a friend of McCamey’s and someone that he’s talked about modeling his game on.

“He’s a wonderful player. I played against him all the way since 7th grade, he knows me, I know him and I know I’ll be in the same boat and playing with passion if I just listen to everybody, because they’re only trying to help…No matter how young you are, you can be a real good player. We used to be enemies on the court, now I’m a fan, maybe one day I’ll get to where he’s at.”

If Demetri matures into a consistent player, the Illini could make a deep tournament run in March and Derrick Rose could possibly see another Windy City friend in the NBA in 2011.

More Illini exclusives, click name for video interviews:

Mike Davis

Mike Tisdale

D.J. Richardson

Brandon Paul

Alex Legion and Dominique Keller

Western Conference Power Rankings

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By Paul M. Banks

1.  Los Angeles Lakers (6-1)

If you missed the battle of Los Angeles opening night broadcast on TNT, consider yourself lucky. The announcers were fawning all over this team and penciling them in at 40-1 already. Easy guys, the ’96 Bulls aren’t leaving the record books anytime soon.

2.  San Antonio Spurs (3-3)

I like the deal for Richard Jefferson a lot. They’re a quicker, younger team, and certainly not your older brother’s Spurs that were slow and plodding. They could be a Finals contender, but must improve their defensive rebounding and guarding the paint.

3. Phoenix Suns (7-1)

Maybe there won’t be a re-building phase after all. And they should be fun to watch in getting those wins too, conquering a foe with scores of 150-145 every so often. It’s like a NBA version of college football’s WAC conference.

4.  Denver Nuggets (5-2)

Don’t expect a let-down from last year’s breakthrough season. They have too much talent, and balance. They also have a certain Gestalt- the whole is more than the sum of the parts. And I’m not talking about the players’ body art. Denver unofficially leads the NBA in tattooed space.markcuban

5.  Dallas Mavericks (4-2)

Is there anything uglier than Shawn Marion’s shot release? Well, actress Julia Styles is no picnic to look at. We must be overdue for a Mark Cuban publicity stunt/fining/fake public outrage/ridiculous boastful public comment. There hasn’t been a news cycle surrounding the attention whore in quite a while. Oh wait, what’s this about him wanting to buy the Dodgers?

6.  Portland Blazers (4-3)

So any day now Greg Oden is going to start playing up to his pre-draft hype, right? Well maybe not. The rebounds and blocks are there, but the scoring? About as lackluster as an Ohio State performance in a national championship game.

7.  Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3)

Kevin Durant and company will make a big step forward this season. You should take the Thunder seriously this year. As long you can get past the fact that their logo and name sounds like either an Arena football or indoor women’s soccer franchise.

8.  Utah Jazz (3-4)

This is Deron Williams’ team, not D. Will & Carlos Boozer’s team. Williams, BY FAR the best player in the league never to have been an All-Star, gets ornery when he loses, so they must get much better on the road, and stop the 4th quarter collapses, if he is to stay in good moods. The defense in the final stanza MUST improve.deronwilliams

9. New Orleans Hornets (2-5)

Every time I’ve asked a college point guard who they look up to in the NBA, they say either Deron Williams or Chris Paul. Those two are the gold standard, and will be inextricably linked like Magic and Bird throughout their careers. I guess it’s fitting that their teams are right at the same level too.

10 Houston Rockets (4-2)

You may ask how they ended up this low, with a record as good as they have. Well, injuries will catch up to them soon enough, and the W-L will soon be under .500.

11.  Los Angeles Clippers (3-4)

If they can tread water long enough till Blake Griffin gets here, they just might be able to squeeze into the playoffs.

12.  Golden State Warriors (1-4)

Stephen Curry’s career is off to a quick start, as he establishes himself near the top of this year’s rookie class. They can succeed if they follow the Phoenix method of winning basketball games- outscore them!

13. Sacramento Kings (3-4)

Everyone makes the Clippers their NBA punchline, but don’t forget about Sac-town. With the exception of a couple years at the beginning of the decade, (and their one fluky deep playoff run) they’ve been tremendous slouches themselves. Don’t let the quick start fool you, they’ll find the basement soon enough.

14.  Minnesota Timberwolves (1-6)

Someone email me some rationale stating that David Kahn truly knows what he is doing. I’d like to think that a person who gets a job as a NBA GM actually has a clue when it comes to basketball decisions, but I just don’t see it.

15.  Memphis Grizzlies (1-6)

That goes double for Memphis’ General Manager Chris Wallace. Seriously, the Zach Randolph trade, the fact that they can’t sell any tickets even though their home court is located right on one of the nation’s biggest parkways of partying (Beale St.), the fact they’ll be a fixture in the lottery for years to come…I’ll stop there.

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