Entering his eighth season out of the University of Illinois, Deron Williams has certainly proved that he is more than worthy to be considered as one of the top point guards in the league. Often tied to fellow 2005 draft pick Chris Paul (Deron went third overall, Paul went fourth), Williams has had to make his case for the best point in the league night-in and night-out – a case he may actually be winning.
With career averages of 17.6 points, 9.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, Williams has shown the ability to remain relevant in all aspects of the game from his position while shooting 45.5 percent from the floor, 35.1 percent from three, and 81.2 percent from the line. In comparison to Chris Paul, these career averages are almost identical, meaning more research must be done to determine the best floor general in the league (Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook cannot be considered as the best point guard in the league as they have never been the best player on their team, and Steve Nash, at age 38, is respectfully removed from the debate as well).
Two common factors often used to determine the better of two quarterbacks are their individual success in the playoffs and their success in head-to-head match-ups. These two aspects of the game can certainly be used for point guards as well.
Williams wins both.
In terms of meetings within the playoffs, Williams and Paul have had none, but they have met 17 times in the regular season. Williams has beaten Paul in 13 of them. Only one has come with either on their new team, with Deron winning that match-up as well.
With almost four inches and thirty pounds on Paul, their 1-on-1 match-up is almost too obvious to predict after just a few possessions. In their match-ups, Williams has been able to outscore Paul while shooting at a much higher percentage (52.4 percent from the field, compared to 43 percent – and 41.1 percent from three, compared to 27.5 percent).
For the point guard purists, in their meetings, Williams was able to get ten or more assists in nine of their seventeen meetings, with Paul only able to hit double digits six times.
Despite having slightly higher career averages, Paul has been unable to match those in any contest against Williams, meaning the size and physical ability of Williams easily makes up for the less than one-point deficit in the career averages that Paul holds over him at a win percentage of 76 percent.
In terms of playoff success, both have led teams that have qualified for the postseason in four of their seven seasons. Williams has seen ten more playoff games in that span, meaning more success per postseason. This is including the 2010 playoffs where, while missing two starters, Williams became the first player in NBA history to have at least twenty points and ten assists in five straight playoff games.
It appears clear that by using the method of comparing playoff success and head-to-head meetings, Williams is definitely the top point guard in the game. His ability to mirror the statistics of Paul, while winning more individually (and head-to-head), makes it hard to argue against him. He possesses the size and physical ability of very few points guards in the game, and in no way does this limit his ability to run the ‘one’. He creates match-up problems for almost every team in the league in a way that Paul cannot.
Fortunately for NBA fans, this debate has certainly not concluded. It appears as if both are currently on the best teams that they have ever been on and are both destined for deep playoff runs.
The two will meet twice this upcoming season.