Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Who Ya Got? Chris Paul Vs. Deron Williams

Note to writers and bloggers everywhere: if an article idea pops up in your head at any time, write it. Write it as quick as possible. That way, you won't feel stupid when you see your idea somewhere else.

Anywho..after seeing the post at Dimemag, I obviously decided it was time to unveil the second installment of the immensely popular and equally controversial Who You Got? series.

The first installment drew a few readers and even landed on ESPN's Truehoop. But that really wasn't my aim (well, it was, but still). I wanted to tackle a debate that had been waging for some time now, and simply add my two cents. Of course, it was a tad one-sided but shit, this is a blog, and blogs are 90% subjective. If you want my objectivity, check me out at Houston Style Magazine. Frankly, I think Derrick Rose is better than O.J. Mayo and I wanted to tell everyone my reasons for that theory. Yes, Rose is my favorite over the two, but it's because I think his game is superior to Mayo's.

But this one's going to be a lot harder. Let me throw this out there right now: Chris Paul is one of my favorite players in the league, moreso (by a wide margin) than Deron Williams. CP was one of my favorite college players (though he went to Wake Forest and I'm a diehard Tar Heels fan) and that carried over to the NBA (even though his Hornets share a division with the Rockets).

Deron's breakout season in '06-'07 caused me to dispose of the grudge I carried against him due to the fact that:
A. He's from Dallas, and Dallas and Houston sorta have this rivalry going on since forever. He and Acie Law are slowly knocking down that barrier, though.
B. During the '04-'05 season, I had to frantically argue with my roommates who said his Illinois team was as good or better than the North Carolina team that had the Illini up by 20 at halftime of the Championship Game. I think overrated is what I called him.
C. He plays for Utah, and in case you haven't heard, we hate Utah in Texas. If Paul would have gotten drafted there, I would've disowned him.

But what he did last year kinda makes up for those past transgressions. You are forgiven, Deron. On to the subject.

This is easily one of the toughest comparisons in the NBA. It can go either way, but it must be done. Who you got?

Playmaking Ability - Chris Paul has been one of the premier point guards in the league since he was drafted. Coming out of college, he was touted as the best player in the '05 Draft because of his ability to dominate games through his passing. Plus, he's averaged 8.3 assists on an average team in his two years in Lilweeziana.

D-Will's rookie year should come with a big asterisk the size of Jerry Sloan. Deron drastically improved as a playmaker his second year as his confidence grew and Sloan untightened the ropes for him to run the offense. Coming out of Illinois, he was seen as the poor man's Jason Kidd, due to his size, though he pales in comparison to Kidd (and Paul's) otherworldly court vision. Williams still has shown over the past season that he can run a very good NBA squad and he's dished out 6.9 assists over his two seasons in Salt Lake. But...

Team Accolades - CP3 has taken the New Orleans Hornets to the brink of the postseason in both of his seasons in the league, despite having to carry the team as a rookie in '06 and the Hornets being ravaged by injuries (Paul missed 18 games in '07) in 2007.

The Utah Jazz were nowhere close to the preseason in '06, but not having Carlos Boozer was a huge part of that. The Jazz rebounded with a healthy Boozer and a vastly improved Williams to make the Western Conference Finals with Deron becoming the catalyst against the Spurs. No disrespect to Chris, but Deron takes this easily.

Individual Statistics - In 142 NBA games, Chris Paul has averaged 16.6 points (16.1 in '06; 17.3 in '07), 8.3 dimes (7.8 in '06; 8.9 in '07), 4.8 boards (5.1 in '06; 4.4 in '07), and 2.1 steals (2.2 in '06; 1.8 in '07), in 36.3 minutes per game. Amazingly, he didn't make the All-Star Game in either his rookie or sophomore season.

In 160 NBA games, Deron Williams has put up 13.5 points, 6.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 0.9 steals in 32.9 minutes per. Those numbers are skewered because of the Jerry Sloan/rookie dilemna, but there's no excuse for being 6'3 and only averaging 3 boards per game. In the all important second year, he put up 16.2 points and 9.3 assists (second in the league in '07), and still make the All-Star Game either. I'll give him a curve. But still....
ADVANTAGE: Paul (slightly)

Accolades - Neither has made the All-Star Game in their two seasons in the L, but Chris Paul has that shiny Rookie of the Year award from '06 and several Rookie of the Month awards from that season. Williams dished out 21 assists last season and was drafted before Chris. As far as accolades go...

Efficiency - Come on, they're point guards. Elite pgs at that. They've gotta be efficient with the ball in order for their teams to be in a good position to win. In two seasons, Paul has averaged 2.4 turnovers per game to go along with his 8.3 assists. But CP dominates the ball and is bound to have a few miscues.

In the same span, Williams has also averaged 2.4 turnovers to 6.9 assists. The Jazz run a motion/pick-and-roll offense, so his turnovers are highlighted a little more. But he had a 3-to-1 assist/turnover ratio in '06-'07 (as did Paul), so....

Shooting - And not in the Pacman Jones way, either. Deron is the better outside shooter (36.5% on 3-pointers in 2 seasons, 48% overall to Paul's 32% on 3-pointers and 46% overall), but, though his percentage is lower, Paul gets into the lane for easy layups at a rate rare for a player of his stature. Guards who aren't great shooters don't usually shoot 46%. However....

Leadership Ability - Both are great leaders. Chris Paul has been showing it since he was a freshman at Wake, and Williams took over the Fighting Illini as a sophomore in the shadow of Dee Brown (who is now his backup). Paul has led exceptionally in his pro career in the face of Hurricane Katrina moving his team to and fro Oklahoma City, being the go-to guy as a rookie, and having half the team out with injuries for extended periods.

Williams took a backseat as a rookie on Sloan's team, but burst out his second year, averaging 9.1 assists and leading the Jazz to the Northwest Division title and then the Western Conference finals, where he took over sole possession of the leadership role as the Spurs bottled up Carlos Boozer. He averaged 19.2 points and 8.6 assists going up against Rafer Alston, Baron Davis, and Tony Parker.

Paul has had to carry a weak squad, but you can't deny Deron's playoff performance. Fuck it...
ADVANTAGE: Tie They're both two elite leaders on up-and-coming teams.

Defense - Neither are the Glove, but both are good defenders at the 1 position. Deron harasses guards with his size and stays in front of people with his deceptive quickness, except on this infamous play.

Chris harasses with his quick hands and feet and has been among the league leaders in steals, averaging 2.1 in his two seasons.

Bonus: Marketability - In our final category, we ask who is more marketable? You know, nobody wants boring NBA point guards anymore. Paul has a more flashier game, is part of the Jordan Brand family, and the Rookie of the Year award, and appearance for Team USA and the All-Star Skills Challenge has definitely boosted his popularity.

Deron plays in Utah of all places and has a solid, fundamental game that is highlighted by his size and steadiness. But his '07 playoff explosion and Team USA appearance has definitely put him into the public eye.

In my opinion, I would have to say....it's a tie. Yeah, I'm a spineless bastard. But they basically cancel each other out. The things CP is better at, Deron's not far behind. Vice versa. They're both in the short group of elite, dominant point guards in the NBA, and will be for a long time.


Ty Keenan said...

At the very least, I respect that you tried to answer such a tough debate. I'll pick Paul just because I like him more, but you really can't go wrong with either one. So I guess my cop-out answer is: it depends on the system.

Trey Jones said...

I had to say the same thing. I like Paul way more than Deron and I find myself asking who I would pick.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that Cris Paul gets a lot more steals that Deron Williams because he is a much better athlete thant Deron. Deron gets in the lane most by using this cross over dribbles where he is basically "palming the ball," where CPW uses athletic skills.