If you’ve missed the NBA playoffs so far, you are missing one of the most exciting playoffs in years. You are also missing the emergence of the next great point guard in the NBA: Deron Williams.
I remember in 2005 when Deron Williams got drafted with the No. 3 pick in the draft ahead of Chris Paul, I was in shock. Not because Williams wasn’t a phenomenal player, but because Paul was still available. I really liked Williams in college. He hit some huge shots during the NCAA tourney that year and he was the teammate to my namesake Dee Brown, which made me root for the fighting Illini during that run to the championship game versus North Carolina. The knock on Williams coming out of college was that he wasn’t quick enough to be a full-time point and he would struggle running a pro team.
Last year, Chris Paul won the Rookie of the Year and was anointed the next great young point guard in this league. Williams also had a solid season under Jerry Sloan‘s tutelage and you saw the makings of a point guard controversy brewing over the next 15 years… Who would be the best floor general?
Now it’s 2007. Williams was second in assists during the regular season behind two-time MVP Steve Nash, led the Jazz to a Midwest division title and is on the verge of getting the Jazz to the Western Conference finals.
So how good is Deron Williams? He’s not just good. He’s the next great point guard in this league! I’m not taking anything away from Paul, because his supporting cast is not as talented as Williams and CP3 makes all those players better – just ask David West and Desmond Mason – but Paul hasn’t reached the playoffs yet and Williams is two wins away from the Conference finals.
What makes him the next one?
First, he is a lot quicker and faster than people thought (including me) coming out of college. He has that Jason Kidd change-of-direction speed. Everyone compared him to Kidd because of his size and court vision but not his speed. Second, he is a physical point. Do you see what he is doing to Baron Davis in this series? Davis just bullied the Mavs guards. He can’t do that with Williams. He is just as physical and tough as Davis and that’s a plus when it comes to big point guards in the league. A combination of speed and physical play – that’s a hard blend to stop for anyone. And lastly, he can shoot with range. He can shoot off the break, pick-and-roll situations (Williams to Boozer). Doesn’t that remind you of a tandem that used to play in Salt lake City? And he is not afraid to take the big shot. He hit that shot in Game 2 to send the it to overtime and took the life out of the Warriors there. He has that killer instinct that you want from your floor leader.
Right now, he is the best player from the 2005 draft. I still give much respect to CP3, but Deron Williams is Jason Kidd with a sweet stroke.
Remember, the true sign of a player’s worth in this league is winning games. Deron Williams is still playing games in May. If he keeps getting better every game as he has shown during the 2007 season and playoffs, he could be playing in June, which means he might have a chance to do something that John Stockton never did – win a championship.