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Just The Sports: A Legendary Point Guard's Successor

Just The Sports

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Legendary Point Guard's Successor

From the looks of NBA goings-on, when the Utah Jazz drafted Deron Williams with the third pick of the 2005 NBA draft, they were drafting their point guard for the next decade or so and if they were lucky, the next John Stockton or at the very least a close approximation. In only his second NBA season, Williams has shown enough improvement that announcers have started pronouncing his name correctly. For the record, it is pronounced like Darren and not like De-Ron.

When I decided to compare Williams's exploits in 2006-07 to what John Stockton did in the 1987-88 season, I was doing so because both seasons represented the first years where the two players averaged over thirty minutes a game. What I did not realize at the time I selected the 1987-88 season for John Stockton is that it represented one of the best offensive seasons he ever had in his nineteen seasons in the NBA. In that season, Stockton had his highest assist rate (48.5) and the third highest true shooting percentage (64.5%) of his career. Stockton also posted an amazing 1.29 points per shot attempt on the way to averaging 14.7 points per game. Not surprisingly, those numbers make what Deron Williams has done look worse than it really is.

Williams, though, has acquitted himself fairly well even if he has not reached legendary point guard status. Right now, Williams is averaging 17.4 points per contest, which is more than Stockton scored in 1987-88 or in any other season for the matter, but he only has a true shooting perccentage of 54.3% and points per shot attempt of 1.09, much worse than Stockton in both categories. Even Williams's assist rate of 32.7 looks embarrassingly mortal when stacked up against Stockton.

Part of the reason Williams's numbers look different from Stockton's is he is asked to be a different player than Stockton was. Williams is not just a distributor for the Utah Jazz, but he is also asked to shoulder a little bit more of an offensive load. His 14.4 field goal attempts per game are a higher total than John Stockton ever shot and it stands to reason that the more shots Williams attempts, the fewer assists he will be able to dish out. The most important thing for Williams is to continue to improve and then to maintain his peak for as long as possible, a la John Stockton.



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