D-Will > CP3

FEEL it comin’ in the air
AND the screams from everywhere
I’M addicted to the thrill
IT’S a dangerous love affair
CAN’T be scared when it goes down
GOT a problem, tell me now
ONLY thing that’s on my mine
IS who’s gonna run this town tonight….
(my obligatory HOV quote).

Nothing more appropriate for tonight’s game. Visiting the SLC this evening will be the 11-2, newly invigorated, New Orleans Hornets.  The team nobody was paying any attention to until recent impressive victories.  The team Chris Paul did not want to be a part of any longer until upper management gave him a time-out, (and Trevor Ariza).  The team that suddenly everyone and their mother is in love with, (cause no one likes Miami any more, until they start winning every game by 40 points).  And the player who has “re-claimed” his BEST POINT GUARD IN THE WORLD status…… Chris Paul?

(Imagine everything going to black and white, flashback style, to 2005)

….with the first pick of the 2005 NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select….Andrew Bogut.
….with the second pick of the draft, the Atlanta Hawks select…..Marvin Williams.

(This is about when Kevin O’Conner crapped his pants and realized the they would be able to draft either Deron Williams or Chris Paul with the third pick.  God Bless the Bucks & Hawks.)

….with the third pick of the draft, the Utah Jazz select…..Deron Williams!   and the rest is history. (Black and white fades back into color).

So why the debate.

“There is this perception that Deron Williams was always playing catch-up to Chris Paul. The truth is that Williams has been the best point guard in the world for a while.

Paul may have his Hornets sitting at a surprising 11-2. But who can forget what Williams did these past few weeks? He played 53 minutes and beat the Clippers with a tie-breaking layup. Then, he led a charge back from 22 down to punk the Heat in Miami. One night later, Williams went off for 30 and 14 in a win against the Magic, followed later that week by another second-half comeback in Charlotte, capped by his game-winning hook shot.

In head-to-head meetings over the course of their careers, Williams has gotten the better of Paul in every major statistical category. He has also shot 56% from the field against Paul, his highest versus any team.

Defensively, most will look at Paul’s career theft numbers (2.4 steals per game), and say he is stronger on this end. But Paul is disruptive in much the same way Allen Iverson was: by playing passing lanes and generally taking too many chances. Williams, on the other hand, is 6-3 and weighs anywhere from 210 to 220. Because of his size, he can play any type of guard without help and without cheating for steals.

Also, over the course of his career, Williams has missed just 24 out of 425 regular season games. With his frenetic style of play, Paul has worn down more than a few times. Last season, a knee injury limited him to only 45 games. Paul has missed close to three times as many games in his career as Williams.

Finally, as the “leader” of a team’s on-court performance, what is most often described as a point guard’s most important quality? The ability to make their teammates better. And win. I’m sure you may have heard, but in head-to-head match-ups over the course of their career, Williams has destroyed Paul. In 18 career games against the Hornets with Williams running the show, the Jazz are 14-4. That’s not some stat put together over a small sample size. That is five years of basketball, with different players and situations. I don’t even really need to mention that when they met in college, Williams’ Illinois team spanked Paul and his Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Williams has led Utah to the playoffs every year since his rookie season and has been to the Western Conference Finals. Paul has only one career playoff series win under his belt.”

Amen. Amen. & Amen.  And in case this article didn’t sway you over, keep on reading.  MVP style.

It’s never too early to start compiling contenders for the league’s Most Valuable Player award. And while the early MVP debate has centered around Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol — and even Joakim Noah according to some national analysts — right now Deron Williams should be ahead of the pack.

The numbers are there. Deron is averaging 21.3 points (19th in the NBA, 3rd among point guards), 10.1 assists (4th in the NBA) and a career-high 4.7 rebounds. He’s notched two games of 30 points, and four of 14 or more assists.

But the MVP is never solely about numbers. You have to find the right mix of team success, memorable moments, and perhaps most important, exceeded expectations that put you in good standing with the voters.

The Jazz are 7-3 overall (Now 10-5) and riding a 5-game win streak. At the beginning of the streak, D-Will made a coast-to-coast layup in double-overtime to beat the Clippers. Then he spearheaded four second-half comebacks on the road against Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte, including three games where he posted at least 20 points and 10 dimes. Deron capped the road trip with a buzzer-beating floater on Saturday to beat the Bobcats.

Now about the exceeded expectations. Going into this season, the Jazz weren’t seen as an elite team in the talent-depleted West. At best, they were expected to be playoff fodder (again) for the Lakers and a footnote in L.A.’s three-peat plans. After losing Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver to free agency during the summer, Utah’s significant roster additions included Al Jefferson — who had played on one above-.500 team in his six-year career — along with 20-year-old rookie Gordon Hayward, and 34-year-old Raja Bell. Plus starting center Mehmet Okur is sidelined with an Achilles injury until next month at least.

And yet, as Rondo threatens to break all-time records for assists and Paul has the Hornets undefeated, D-Will is holding on strong to whatever claim he may have as the best point guard in the world. His teammates have a combined two All-Star appearances between them, and Andrei Kirilenko is the only Utah All-Star actually playing right now. (Okur was an All-Star in 2007.) Deron is helping set Paul Millsap (21.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg) up for a career year, and may actually deliver Jerry Sloan his first-ever, long overdue NBA Coach of the Year award.

Is D-Will the best PG in the game? That’s an argument in which the answers change every day. But you don’t have to be the best to be the most valuable. So far this season, Williams is at least in the driver’s seat for that title.  (Courtesy of Dime Magazine)

And another….

When people see the story of Deron Williams, it’s a story that’s littered with him making each and everyone around him better. It has come at the expense of his potential accomplishments and accolades, which is perfectly fine and, maybe, according to the script.

It’s a story that started in high school, flourished in college, and continues in the pros. When he ran the point for The Colony High School, there was another player on his team (Bracey Wright) who got a majority of the accolades. When he took his abilities to The Fighting Illini, he took a backseat to two other guards (Dee Brown and Luther Head). And when he was drafted by the Utah Jazz, he was brought along slowly, almost like he was being hazed in an attempt to test the man’s character, by The Great Jerry Sloan.

The thing is when you looked back at those days, you could speak reverently about everyone else at that time, but when you look at October of 2010, there is still one man standing; one man who is now the best point guard in basketball, and did it in a way that should be applauded and appreciated…and that man is Deron Williams.

You may be taken aback when you see the words, “Deron Williams is the best point guard in basketball,” but for me, there’s a different take than what other basketball fans have of the man. It’s one that’s more reflective, more personal, and one that’s not so much rooted solely in what he’s done in the NBA.

It’s one that I’ve been able to witness for the past nine years, well before he put on an NBA uniform.

The story of him is truly about team and truly about doing whatever it takes to win. The man knows how to lead, plain and simple. When you look at what Utah has done with him at the point, it’s truly remarkable. Rarely do you see a franchise lose two legends, two immortals, two Hall of Famers, and have (at least) one fall in your lap so soon and watch him grow before your very eyes. It also helps that he has John Stockton’s seal of approval, and if Utah is able to continue to put players around him, the Jazz will continue to contend in the West for quite some time.

They’ve already made a Western Conference Final and two semi-final appearances with Deron running the show. To take it a step further, in the four years he’s played in the postseason, the teams that beat the Jazz went on to either win or represent the West in the NBA Finals. There’s a reason why some fans aren’t too concerned with Carlos Boozer leaving town and being replaced by Big Al Jefferson, and it’s because of the maestro of their symphony. Williams told Jefferson, as soon as he arrived, that he would make him an All-Star. Once again, it’s all about making others better.

Here’s Williams, someone who finally made the All-Star team for the first time last season, an act of irresponsibility by fans and coaches that should be a first-degree felony for taking so long, talking about how he would give someone else that same feeling of playing in the second weekend in February for the first time in their career. It’s always been about others, and never about self. Maybe that’s part of the reason why some don’t fully understand why the man is so great — his impact will never be fully reflective in the numbers.

When the Jazz need a bucket, he’ll get it. When they need him to make the right pass, he’ll make it. When they need him to make the right basketball play, he will deliver it. It will always be about the imprint he leaves on his teams, and for that reason, here’s hoping the man has an opportunity to someday soon experience basketball immortality, and win an NBA championship. That’s probably what it will take for the masses to realize what some of us have known about him for a long time.

For now, dubbing Deron the best point guard in basketball (and a top-10 player in the L) will have to suffice.