Top 50: Deron Williams, no. 8
The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.
by Kenny Masenda
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.
|SLAMonline TOP 50 PLAYERS||OVERALL RANK||POSITION RANK|
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.