Thursday, August 28, 2008

10 Things other Point Guards do better than Deron Williams, and why.

Deron Williams hungers for respect Utah, as Kenny Smith tells me every game I play as the Jazz in NBA 2k8, took a lot of heat for picking Deron Williams back when Chris Paul was on the board still -- waaay back in the 2005 NBA Draft. It looked like a poor choice after their rookie seasons ended.

However, Deron seems to doing just fine for himself. That said, let's look at the other point guards in the league, and try to figure out why they do things better than Deron -- is it a talent issue, or something else entirely?

[All statistics are from the 2007-2008 regular season, unless noted otherwise.] Each category displays what a leader in that category achieves, and how Deron fares in comparison.

Furthermore an examination of how the other top Point guards fared in direct comparison to one another in the playoffs follows. You may just be surprised to see who came out on top over-all.

Probably if you are among the same people who were surprised at Deron Williams' record result during the NBA All-Star Skills Competition . . . presented by Playstation.
Photographed by: Getty Images/NBAE  

1. Points --

Baron shoots the ball enough times to score more than any other point guard

Baron Davis: 21.8 ppg (.426, 7.9-17.9 FGM-FGA)

Deron Williams: 18.8 ppg (.505, 6.9-13.6 FGM-FGA) (#3 pg)

Baron scored the most out of any point guard in the NBA last season -- though he was far from the most efficient scorer. He shoots the ball 18 times to score 22 points. That's basically Nellie ball at it's best (worst?). Deron Williams doesn't shoot as much, but shoots much smarter shots, he's one of the few Point Guards to have a fg% greater than 50%. Deron can score just as much as Baron, as the box scores of their 2nd round match-up in 2006-2007 clearly show. In this playoffs Deron upped his scoring per game to 21.0 ppg . . . while Baron Davis was unable to get his team there. A guy like Davis would have trouble in Sloan system. Deron can score with the best of them in any system.

Photographed by: Rocky Widner, NBAE/Getty Images  

2. Field-Goal shooting --

Jose rarely takes an ill-advised shot

Jose Manuel Calderon: 51.9%

Deron Williams: 50.7% (#2 pg, #1 pg who has taken 1000+ shots in the 2007-2008 season)

Jose came off the bench last season to be a highly effective point guard, and ended up splitting time with T.J. Ford. This season Jose will be the starter as T.J. was shipped off to Indiana. You don't shoot the ball at a 52% clip if you take bad shots. Nothing in Jose's game is really forced as he is very unselfish and easily a Top 10 point guard in the league. It doesn't hurt when you don't shoot a lot of shots -- but perhaps this will change as he gets more playing time this season. Deron is no slouch when it comes to playing a control game and taking good shots. He did have to change his role during the playoffs from a primary distributor to a primary scoring weapon . . . and that affected his FG%. He's still pretty awesome for scoring so efficiently while taking over 1100+ shots.


3. Three point shooting --

Steve Nash is money from downtown

Steve Nash: 47.0 3PT%, 2.2 3PTM/Game

Deron Williams: 39.5 3PT%, 1.0 3PTM/Game (#12 pg, #3 in PGs who score 15+ ppg)

How good is Steve Nash from deep? Just a point of reference here . . . Nash shoots better from three than Baron Davis (the top PG in terms of PPG) does over-all. Deron Williams has been a pretty good three point shooter in his career (usually around 40%), but Nash shot nearly 50% last season. That is truly spectacular. Nash takes a lot of quick shots during transition and the early stages of an aborted half court attack. This is partly due to the Phoenix Suns' offensive attack, and partly due to Nash (he knows his talents, and he used to play this way back in Dallas as well). Deron Williams is strong from deep, and is quite clutch from three as well. He's a smart player, but his true potential for bombing is slightly curtailed by Jerry Sloan's penchant for avoiding shooting the three almost as much as Vampires avoid having wooden stakes in their hearts. When you limit the field to only point guards who score 15+ ppg, Deron goes from being the 12th best to the 3rd best at three point shooting. This is a huge jump that removes a lot of specialists. Deron's complete game includes the three. As a top level PG you have to score at least that much, and keep defenses honest with a three point shot.

Photographed by: Roy Dabner/AP Photo  

4. Free Throw Attempts / Game --

I get to the line for a variety of reasons . . . skill, experience, veteran savvy . . . and being a champion surely doesn't hurt

Chauncey Billups: 5.6 FTA / Game

Deron Williams: 5.0 FTA / Game (#3 pg)

Getting to the free throw line is an art form for some. It is a true product of veteran savvy and skill. It doesn't hurt if you are a star player who has a ring and a finals MVP trophy to show off time to time. (Those who don't usually resort to flopping, or their sense of entitlement) Deron Williams doesn't have the credentials of a Billups, the flopping of a San Antonio, or the world on a platter that Chris Paul does -- but what he does have is an ability to drive to the basket, be a physical point guard, absorb contact and go to the line 0.6 times less than the top man in the league at his position. While I never expect Deron to get those 'Chris Paul calls', I do expect that as he gains more playoff experience and exposure that his FTA/game will only go up as well.

Photographed by: Roy Dabner/AP Photo  

5. Assists --

White people love to pass, according to the internet.

Steve Nash: 11.1

Deron Williams: 10.5 (#3 pg)

Steve Nash may not be the apg king of the NBA any longer, but he's still one of the best. For the second straight season Deron Williams finishes right below Nash when it comes to dropping dimes. Nash plays only 34 mpg, but the style of play of his club is one where they push the pace of the game and there are more assists to be had. I know Nash is a great point guard, but how many assists per game would he get in a ball control, slow tempo offense? (Not unlike what the Jazz used to run when John Stockton was getting older) Deron Williams leads a very efficient Utah attack as well, but Nash has better offensive weapons to pass to. (Amare, Shaq, Raja Bell and Barbosa are better scorers than Boozer, Memo, Andrei and Ronnie Brewer) That said, 0.6 less apg isn't that big of a deal in the big picture. In the 2008 Playoffs Nash and Deron's rankings were flipped, with Deron being #2, & Nash #3. Nash will always remain a much flashier passer though.


6. Assist to Turn Over Ratio --

Taking care of the ball is kinda what I do

Jose Manuel Calderon: 5.38 Ast/TO

Deron Williams: 3.09 Ast/TO (#13 pg, #6 in PGs who play 30+ mpg)

I'm sorry, but Jose's Ast:To ratio is just insanely high. He just takes care of the ball very well. Deron isn't even in the Top 10 of this for the regular season . . . but when you eliminate all the point guards who play less than 30+ mpg then he's 6th best in the league. That's not that bad, the magic number for point guards has always been that 3:1 ratio, and Deron satisfies that requirement. Jose rarely makes a mistake on offense as he's the NBA leader among point guards in FG% and Ast:TO ratio. So he gets major props from me. It's that much more impressive when you factor in that Jose has to sometimes pass the ball to guys like Kris Humphries. On the same wavelength, Deron's turn overs would be severely reduced if Jerry Sloan cut Matt Harpring's playing time.


7. Rebounds --

I shouldn't have to be doing this shit no more, i'm almost 40

Jason Kidd: 7.5 rpg

Deron Williams: 3.0 rpg (#12 pg)

Jason Kidd, at 6'5, is a great rebounding point guard. He has a nose for the ball, he seems to always be in the right place, and more than anything else that we can attribute to Jason himself, he's played with some of the worst rebounding bigmen ever in his career. Who is the best he's played with, Kenyon Martin? Has he ever been in the Top 10 this millennium? Deron Williams, on the other hand, has had to take whatever he can get when it comes to boards has he has Boozer (11+ rpg), Okur (9+ rpg), Kirilenko (8+ rpg), Harpring (8 rpg), Millsap (6 rpg) on his team to do all of that for him. [N.B. these are career highs showing rebound potentials] I'm certain that if asked to, Deron could board more -- especially if he was on a different team. Look at Chris Paul -- his power forward (David West) gets 8 rpg. Boozer gets over 10 rpg. Paul has to make up some of the difference.

Photographed by: Rick Havner/AP Photo  

8. Steals --

Must . . . steal . . . ball . . .

Chris Paul: 2.71 spg

Deron Williams: 1.10 spg (#14 pg)

Flat out, Chris Paul is an amazing steals guy. He is very quick and is an absolute terror in the passing lanes. You don't luck into getting nearly 3 spg -- it's a talent that you have. Some guys have it, others do not. Still, others could be okay steals guys, but don't have the green light on defense to roam around getting them. I don't think that John Stockton was the best man-to-man defender ever, but he has the league record for Steals. Why? Because for a large part of his career, Stockton basically played free safety for the Jazz on defense while the paint was anchored by Mark Eaton and Greg Ostertag. That allowed him the liberty to go for steals and play aggressively like that. If he was burned, Big Mark would send the shot back. Chris Paul benefits from having Tyson Chandler around. That doesn't mean that Paul only gets steals because he has a big man watching the paint -- it means that Paul can cheat a bit more than guys on other teams could have. For a point of reference, Deron Williams scored higher during the pre-draft combine on some agility drills than Paul did -- but he has Mehmet Okur watching the paint -- so he can't go for steals, he has to stay on the ball handler at all times. If Deron had a better defensive bigman protecting the basket I'm sure he could cheat for more steals -- but surely nothing like 2.7+ spg.


9. Blocks --

Yeah, that's right fellas . . . three times last night

Marko Jaric: 0.43 bpg

Deron Williams: 0.28 bpg (#5 pg)

Okay, Marko is 6'7 and Deron is 6'3 . . . I'm okay that Deron isn't the best shot blocking point guard in the NBA -- Top 5 isn't bad at all. My question is: does Marko get extra points for being the most hated cock-blocker on the Internet? Seriously? Adriana Lima? WTF?

Photographed by: Danny Moloshok / Reuters  

10. Double Doubles --

CP3 is the double double king . . . so far . . .

Chris Paul: 56

Deron Williams: 52 (#2 pg)

CP just edges out Deron for this one . . . and it's really no surprise. Chris Paul had an amazing 2007-2008 season, and nothing can take that away from him. Deron, on the other hand, had a ton of 8 or 9 assist games (13 actually), that resulted in Jerry Sloan sitting him without him getting the requires stats to be self-satisfied. (Similar to how he'd continually sit John Stockton when Stock would have 20+ assists, but not let him try for the single game record -- it was about the win, and not about the stats for good ol' Jer.) CP, no doubt, had a ton of those games as well, so for all things considered, these two point guards are quite similar in their double-double abilities -- with Chris Paul getting the job done a whopping 4 more times than Deron in a season. In the playoffs Chris had 8 double doubles and 1 game of 9 assists while Deron had 7 double doubles and three games of 9 assists -- basically the same.


Ordinal Ranks?

Regular Season: PPG FG% 3pts FTA APG A:TO RPG SPG BPG Double Doubles Average
Actual 3 3 12 3 3 13 12 14 5 2 6.9
Adjusted 3 1 3 3 3 6 12 14 5 2 5.2

So if you adjust the rankings to include only those point guards who score 15+ ppg, have taken over 1000+ shots in the season and play at least 30+ mpg . . . Deron Williams is clearly a Top 5 Point Guard in the NBA. Keep in mind that his statistics went up during the playoffs, and that's when he really shines. (21.6 ppg, 50.0 3PT%, 10.0 apg, etc.)

2008 Playoffs: PPG FG% 3pts FTA APG A:TO RPG SPG BPG Double Doubles Average
Actual 3 4 1 3 2 9 6 10 2 2 4.2

Over-all, he's one of the top Point guards in the league, and his average of 4.2 is nothing to laugh at; especially when compared to the other Top Guards in the league.

2008 Playoffs: PPG FG% 3pts FTA APG A:TO RPG SPG BPG Double Doubles Average
C. Billups 6 10 11 2 8 5 10 9 16 6 8.3
C. Paul 1 2 23 1 1 1 2 1 11 1 4.4
D. Fisher 12 9 6 9 15 11 15 2 15 8 10.2
D. Williams 3 4 1 3 2 9 6 10 2 2 4.2
J. Calderon 10 6 3 23 4 2 6 21 21 6 10.2
J. Kidd 15 16 4 17 5 6 1 4 1 8 7.7
J. Nelson 4 1 2 7 10 13 4 18 7 8 7.4
R. Rondo 13 9 20 13 6 7 3 3 4 4 8.2
S. Nash 4 5 13 14 3 8 11 14 7 4 8.3
T. Parker 2 3 16 4 7 14 5 7 17 3 7.8

* Some point guards did not qualify for some categories (like Chris Paul for threes), so their total rank was used for point guards (not just the qualifying rank, as they failed to qualify).

Yeah, let's take a look at this, now shall we? Billups, who has attained Sainthood for his playoff performances here in Detroit gets an average ordinal rank of 8.3, which is good enough for a tie for 7th best over-all. Jameer Nelson, on the other hand, had a very strong playoffs statistically (#3 over all), but he's far from the 3rd best point guard who played in the playoffs last season. Chris Paul is clearly one of the top point guards, especially with this metric where his individual ordinal rankings for each of the 10 categories is rarely out of the top 2. That said, his failings do put him below Deron Williams over all by the smallest of margins (4.2 vs. 4.4).

This is fitting, I believe, because it shows something important. Deron is hardly going to be the absolute best at one thing, but he'll be among the best in many things -- perhaps making him the best over-all. When you have a point guard who averages 21 and 10 in the playoffs while shooting 50% from deep you have a pretty good point guard. He may not get as much publicity as someone who appears to be head and shoulders over everyone else (i.e. Chris Paul) -- but in the over-all scheme (hence, the ordinal rankings), Deron Williams seems to be just as good (if not a little bit better). I like to call him The Dominator, but perhaps a more fitting name would be the Gestalt Point Guard, or Voltron, or something like that . . . he's strong in just so many ways that he can beat you -- eventually -- by finding your weakness and exploiting it.


JazzHaveHeart said...

Great stats. Deron William is definitely one of the best PGs currently playing the game. I think it is very likely that DW and CP will be 1 and 2 at the PG position for the rest of their careers. Which one will be number 1 and which will be number 2 probably doesn't matter. They will be close. They will each lead at different times, and DW will still be the best for the Jazz.