Ranking the NBA’s 30 Go-To Guys (#6: Deron Williams)

By: 12.08.10  •  17 Comments

Who do you want your offense to run through with the game on the line? Counting down from 30th to 1st (one per team), I’ve ranked the League’s go-to guys…

I’m not sure exactly when the shift happened, but it’s results are undeniable. Somewhere along the way, Deron Williams went from “All-Star hopeful” to “All-Star lock,” from his name hitting a ceiling at “one of” the best point guards in the world to receiving more “the best” mentions than all but one of his peers.

In his first All-Star season — though certainly not his first All-Star worthy season — Williams put up 18.7 points and 10.5 assists per game while leading the Jazz to the conference semifinals after a first-round upset of the Nuggets. In “clutch time,” his scoring (23.1 ppg per 48 minutes) was lower than teammates Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko, but Williams was second in the League in clutch time assists (11.5) and was the No. 1 option Jerry Sloan called upon to take big shots down the stretch.

This season, D-Will’s role hasn’t changed much (21.8 ppg, 10.0 apg), he just has a different variety of scorers around him. With Boozer and Kyle Korver gone to free agency, Williams is both the go-to scorer and most reliable outside shooter under pressure, meaning he’ll call his own number whether Utah needs a two or a three-pointer.

During one five-game stretch last month, D-Will led the Jazz to five straight wins (four on the road) that included second-half comebacks. Against the Clippers he won the game with a coast-to-coast layup in the final seconds. Against the Bobcats he hit a floater just before the buzzer to win it. In between, D-Will led the charge in W’s over the Heat, Magic and Hawks on the road, hitting crucial buckets and making the right decisions down the stretch.

It is that ability to produce in the game’s biggest moments that has Williams in place to be considered the best point guard in the world today. He is not as fast as Derrick Rose, not as athletic as Russell Westbrook, not as crafty as Tony Parker, not as strong as Rodney Stuckey. He turns the ball over more than Chris Paul, isn’t as pure a shooter as Steve Nash, and he only has two eyes in the back of his head, compared to Jason Kidd‘s three. What sets Deron apart is his crunch-time resume of big shots and smart passes.

No matter their position, the best go-to guys usually have one go-to move they can utilize at any time, against any defense, to set up a clutch shot. For Deron, it’s his crossover, which may be the best in the League. Quick and efficient, Deron’s cross allows him to create space for his pull-up jumper, or start powerful drives to the rim, or step back into a jumper under pressure. Any defender equipped with game film and a scouting report knows it’s coming, yet D-Will makes it tough to stop. That is the mark of a truly elite crunch-time performer.

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7. Kevin Durant (Thunder)
8. Steve Nash (Suns)
9. Chris Paul (Hornets)
10. Tim Duncan (Spurs)
11. Brandon Roy (Trail Blazers)
12. Joe Johnson (Hawks)
13. Derrick Rose (Bulls)
14. Tyreke Evans (Kings)
15. Vince Carter (Magic)
16. Gilbert Arenas (Wizards)
17. Amar’e Stoudemire (Knicks)
18. Monta Ellis (Warriors)
19. Danny Granger (Pacers)
20. John Salmons (Bucks)
21. Rudy Gay (Grizzlies)
22. Stephen Jackson (Bobcats)
23. Baron Davis (Clippers)
24. Ben Gordon (Pistons)
25. Andre Iguodala (76ers)
26. Yao Ming (Rockets)
27. Mo Williams (Cavaliers)
28. Brook Lopez (Nets)
29. Andrea Bargnani (Raptors)
30. Michael Beasley (Timberwolves)

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