NBA, The NBA's 30 Best Go-To Players / Dec 8, 2010 / 5:00 pm

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

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.

*** *** ***

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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  • wackaflacka

    Not as strong as rodney stuckey? I dk about that one. Stuckey is one of the stronger pgs in the league no doubt but d-will is a pretty beefy dude man i dont think theres a stronger pg in the league (except earl boynkins of course)

  • Lee

    My cousin shot him for the got milk ads. He said he’s one of the athletes most generous with his time and one of the good guys too. I’ve got a signed bball from him.

  • CTP

    Good write-up! D Will is playing like the league MVP so far this season!

  • nizzio

    I was right about Deron Williams! Lemme remind y’all the rest of my list:

    1. Kobe Bryant
    2. Carmelo Anthony
    3. Dirk Nowitzki
    4. LeBron James
    5. Paul Pierce

  • barons_beard

    @nizzio – Wade is surely Miami’s go-to guy in the clutch

    I’d go


    as my top 5

    Williams has been killer in the clutch this season, his crossover is a problem

  • Dagger

    Miami has the luxury of having two go-two guys in the clutch, and odds are both will have the mismatch (though it’s worth noting that Lebron has statistically been the better clutch performer).

  • Rieko

    D-Dub should be in that top 5 my man.

    Deron has been one of the deadliest guys in the clutch for the past few years! Yes, you can tell he has done majority of his late game damage in the regular season but it is STILL CLUTCH WORK.

    Now if your trying to tell me your more comfortable with the ball in DIRK’s hands rather than Deron later in the game, I got no choice but to say your crazy. Bigs ALWAYS get doubled in the crunch that’s why they are difficult to go to in the clutch (ie. Timmy D). I find Deron to be much more effective in the crunch not only because he can create his own shot, but the defense is unable to FLATOUT double team from the top.

    Deron should be top 5 in this list

  • http://www.chess.com smoove chips

    understatement if the yr. Deron’s cross is filthy. Wish we had him. A floor general par exellence that can shoot,dunk,defend,post up almost every pg in the league.. If he had a better handle on his turnovers ild take him ten times outta ten. At this point 7/10. The other 3 times I’d pick cp3

  • karizmatic

    How did Rodney Stuckey even get mentioned in this article? You should have figured out a way to put Rondo in and left the Stuckey reference out.

  • Arno

    Il a guy makes your list but ain’t his team”s go to player, the whole concept is flawed. So, what about Duncan at n°10, when everybody knows (1) that you don’t put the ball in the hands of a 70% FT shooter (2) you have Ginobili on board ?

  • hakasan

    i think you have to go

    5. carmelo
    4. dirk
    3. pierce
    2. wade
    1. kobe

    i can’t put guys who haven’t won it all before guys who did… (thus wade taking the honors before lebron)… plus when wade was the man, he was THE MAN… pierce won with allen and kg… dirk over carmelo because dirk has been doing it for such a long time… plus, who knows where carmelo will be when his article is published… taking the place of brook lopez? haha…

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Love the way you compared Williams to the rest of the NBA’s elite PGs. He’s not the absolute best at many things, but he’s great at everything.

  • Hucklebuck

    no weakness in his game.

  • Mo

    Deron Williams is also more likely to commit a crucial turnover in crunch time. How does he not have any weaknesses in his game if he’s always top 10 in turnovers in the league?

    And since Dime sucks on Deron so much why is it that he can never get a Dime cover? Come on Dime. You guys never answer that question.

  • Mo

    It must be his Supercuts haircut that keeps him from getting a cover right? LMAO.

  • srb

    #1 Pierce
    #2 Pierce
    #3 Pierce
    #4 Kobe
    #5 Pierce

  • nizzio

    I gotta admit, it was kinda hard to figure out who the go-to-guy is for the Heat, but LeBron will most likely be the one due to the fact that he’s an excellent passer. Not only can he drop the big buckets but he can get the nice dimes. I stand by my list.

    5. Paul Pierce
    4. LeBron James
    3. Dirk Nowitzki
    2. Carmelo Anthony
    1. Kobe Bryant