Deron Williams led his Illinois team to the NCAA Championship game. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz #3 in the 2005 NBA Draft. He became an All-Star, an All-NBA Player, and a Gold Medal winner with this team. A few playoff flame outs later combined with the front office's continual a) inability to get a player to get them over the hump, b) the continual trading, waiving, or walking of his boys, transformed Happy Deron into Pouty Deron. Then he continued to be a headache to our Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan, the team blew up, and he is now going into his fifth season with the Brooklyn Nets franchise. And we should talk about him.
Deron Williams is older now, and his play suggests that he is past his peak. If you ask around some people either just lament his fall from grace, or label him a coach killer. He has played for Jerry Sloan, Tyrone Corbin, Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo, and Jason Kidd all within the last four seasons. This season he'll get to work under Lionel Hollins, his sixth coach in five seasons. I'm very happy that the Nets hired Hollins, primarily because the Utah Jazz hired Quin Snyder a few weeks before. I didn't want Hollins to be our coach; but perhaps, he'll be able to get Deron back on track.
And I believe that Deron does need to get back on track. In his last full season with the Jazz he was a 20 / 10 / 4 / 1 player who could win games for your team all by himself. He had averaged a double double for four straight seasons before things fractured in Utah. That "half" season with the Jazz had him still average 21.3 ppg, 9.7 apg, 3.9 rpg, and 1.2 spg. Deron was cooking, but every year with the Nets his on court production has gotten worse and worse over time. Injuries, coaching changes, role changes, and a lack of good luck are the major culprits we hear.
As a result the "best" Jazz player in recent memory has become a shadow of himself. A guy who was knocking on the door of doing National ad campaigns is now regarded as a butt of internet jokes. (Eg. "Remember when CP3 vs DWill was a thing? Lolz".) And for me it's sad. I see a lot of talent in Williams. I see a guy who should be in his peak, not someone who is on the way down in his career already. The general consensus suggests that Deron is a falling star now.
- Over the last four seasons ESPN has ranked him #9, #10, #20, and now #55 this season.
- Sports Illustrated has ranked him #24 down to #45 this year.
- Slam Magazine has ranked him for the longest time, starting in 2008-2009 till now: #11, #11, #8, #10, #7, #16, and this year #49.
- Even NBA 2K is on the bandwagon, his rankings have gone down over time as well: 92 Over-all, 87, 90, 85, and now 84 this year.
I really don't like how the whole Jerry Sloan / Deron Williams things went down. But I do sill root for the guy who makes a point to return here (uh, I mean SLC, not Chicago) every off season. He was a legit star player for our team and a recognized star in the league. The Jazz went to the Western Conference Finals on his amazing playoff series games against the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. The WCF is a sweep without his amazing performance in Game 3. Some of the most recent "good times" in Jazz history were with him.
And even as he departed he gave the Jazz the players, or parts of the pieces needed to get the players: Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Trey Burke. Those are three of our five starters. That's a great assist.
Our Utah team is rebuilding now, but far from being a playoff force like they were with Deron at the helm. The team does not have a recognized star -- though the same places that have buried Deron seem to be taking a shine to Gordon Hayward. Time will tell who our next star will be. But at this point in history, Deron Williams was the last real star this franchise had.
And I guess that's the real reason why it hurts to see Deron struggle. He was our guy. Our draft pick. Our rookie. The guy who had a chip on his shoulder who would dominate Chris Paul one on one. He was the best player on our team, and was the best player when he left. And now . . our "best guy" is now someone who is behind 50 other players in the league. (According to ESPN, SI, and Slam)
As a hyper sensitive fanbase there are some of us who are still, always, going to be Deron fans. And for those of us who are D-Will fans, seeing Deron's star continue to fall (dude is 30 years old! Only 30!) is a sad, sad thing. I would really like to see him return to form, or at least, get back to having a 20+ PER. (He had a 7 year streak broken by last season's play.)
I know that with Trey Burke and Dante Exum the Utah Jazz point guard situation is going to be fine for a long time. Hopefully one of them becomes the star that Deron was in the future, if not greater. Deron is a guy I will wish the best for. If for no other reason than the fact that he was the third best player most of us have ever seen in a Utah Jazz uniform