The next move for Deron Williams

February 3rd, 2011 | by Spencer Hall

[Editor’s note: Anytime Deron Williams gets some time at the shooting guard position, he bristles at the post-game questions about changing his position. Then again, he bristles about most questions. Guest writer Jason Schwarz makes the case for moving D-Will, to the 2-spot or otherwise.]

Since beating the Orlando Magic on December 10th the Jazz are 13-13 and it is clear that Jerry Sloan has yet to find an answer to the team’s slow starts. The early season success was a façade of sorts because of the reliance on divine 4th quarter interventions. Nevertheless, this team has shown glimmers of brilliance despite its inability to consistently win. So what is the answer…new players, new scheme or new rotation? Former players rave about the Jazz system but they aren’t so quick to rave about Sloan’s rigid rotation. This is a coach who has struggled to beat the Phil Jackson’s or Greg Popovich’s of the world because he fails to make essential adjustments at appropriate times. If there was ever a team in need of an adjustment, it’s the 2011 Jazz.

This Jazz group has proven unable to compete against the upper echelon of teams because the glaring inefficiencies in the lineup are too great to overcome. You cannot win in the NBA with a 2-guard who averages 7.9 points per game like Raja Bell. Nobody anticipated Raja would start when the Jazz signed him in the offseason. He couldn’t cut it as a starter during his last go around, what makes Sloan thinks he’s capable at age 34? That’s not to suggest Raja can’t perform a vital role on a championship team, but clearly he should be a 7th or 8th man rather than a starter. I’m confident that even Raja himself would admit to as much if confronted with the question. Sloan has unsuccessfully tinkered with all sorts of lineups but has yet to replace the veteran Bell in the starting lineup. So who should be the guy? Look no further than Deron Williams.

The D Will point guard pattern of lazily walking the ball up the floor in the first half, looking for his own shot in the 3rd quarter, and ramming it down the opposing teams’ throat in the 4th quarter has not benefitted his teammates. Whenever a team’s best scorer is also the point guard, the collateral damage can be difficult to deal with and this year’s team is no exception. Instead of fighting D Will’s versatility, both he and the Jazz should embrace it. This idea of moving D Will to the 2 is not novel; look no further than the U.S. Olympic team as a precedent. Coach Krzyzewski quickly realized that Deron is obviously a good point guard but he is exceptional as a 2. As a 2-guard he is free to shoot whenever he’s open, he can run the pick and roll from the wing, he can curl off a pick as well as anyone in the league, and he is the best passing 2-guard in the world. Would Deron be undersized? I would take the 2-guard version of Deron Williams ahead of Monta Ellis, Eric Gordon, Wesley Matthews or Ray Allen any day of the week. I would certainly feel more comfortable with him defending Manu Ginobili or Dwayne Wade than I am with Raja Bell and I would love to force Kobe Bryant to actually guard somebody when the Lakers play the Jazz.

Deron seems to walk with a chip on his shoulder because he hasn’t gotten the national credit he deserves. The fans and coaches are always putting Chis Paul, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, and even Tony Parker slightly ahead of Deron in point guard rankings. Deron might never be an All Star starter at the point guard position; in fact, it will be difficult for him to regularly make the team. If I could talk with Deron, I would tell him that this disrespect has nothing to do with him playing in the small market of Utah but has everything to do with him holding back his natural ability. The Jazz need to embrace what makes Deron so unique, by restricting his scoring ability they are hampering his progress. As a 2-guard he would become the western conference starter in the fast approaching post-Kobe era. If a player is capable of scoring 25+ points per game he should be put in a position to do so. With the Jazz searching desperately for a 2-guard they would be wise to look no further than the current roster; the second best 2-guard in the world is right in front of them.

It’s Jerry Sloan’s move…soon to be followed by Deron Williams’ move if this Jazz team can’t return to its winning ways. Many in the media are speculating that Deron Williams is next in line to follow in the free agency footsteps of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Deron’s hometown of Dallas seems a likely destination when he can opt out in 2012 and the Mavericks should be in position to offer him a max deal.

Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at
Spencer Hall
Spencer Hall

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  1. Nice take, Jason. The main problem with this proposal is that Deron Williams himself is the main opponent to this plan. My guess is that Jerry Sloan would love to use Williams at the 2 more often but DWill pushes back.

    At this point, why not? Might as well shake things up.

  2. As for speculation about free agency options for Williams, I’m kind of excited for the first few questions that people ask. I guarantee the media circus will lose interest after Deron doesn’t entertain any questions and makes it abundantly clear that he doesn’t want to talk about it.

  3. Kevin Malphurs says:

    Great post. I enjoy any ideas on how to improve the Jazz and a change in the rotation isn’t a bad one. Also, it is hard to argue against the point that Raja Bell is anything short of a disaster as a starting shooting guard.

    My main issues with Deron Williams as a shooting guard are his defense and the leftover hole that would create at point guard. The first point is that i think Deron Williams is not a good defender. Everyone piles on Jefferson’s defense especially on the pick and roll, but at least Jefferson seems to play decent on ball defense. Williams on the other hand seems to struggle with both. I am not a big fan of watching him get lost on defense and seeing his player score. It is hard to quantitfy someone’s impact on defense, but one stat that tries is an adjusted +/-. According to Deron Williams defensive rating is -11.66 net. That is the worst on the team. Now he is an extremly good offensive player, so that makes up for part of his poor defense, but still doesn’t mask the fact I think other shooting guards would destroy Williams.

    The other point is that the Jazz don’t have any backup point guards. Earl Watson played a great game last night, but is a below average point guard without much potential of really improving. If the Jazz would have kept Eric Maynor then option of moving Williams would make a lot more sense. However, with just Watson and the way below-average Ronnie Price it seems like switching Williams from point to shooting guard would just switch the problem.

  4. Adam Palcher says:

    Out of all the possible incarnations I’ve heard this makes the most sense. Great write up!
    So we would have:

    PG – Watson
    SG – DWill
    SF – AK
    PF – Millsap
    C – Jefferson

    Deadly! Maybe? I don’t know. Intriguing for sure.

  5. Holly Langston says:

    We have seen minutes in a game where Earl and Deron play together, Earl is the point. It’s so much fun to watch Deron come off a screen for a shot and even more fun to watch him in the post! He has good size and he can use that big body to post up most of the other smaller guards in the league; with his quick first step and deadly crossover he is scoring more points moving without the ball. Sure he is an exquisite point guard, but he is also an incredible scorer, capable of averaging a triple-double in any game.
    Since we have been .500 since the middle of December, why not change it up and see if it works?? As a dedicated jazz fan, I’m happy to see the Jazz win.. small market or not, this team has talent!!

  6. Jefferson says:

    First of all, congrats are in order for D-Will for being named an All-Star. No doubt, he is among the best in the league and deserves a place in its annual showcase.

    I am definitely intrigued with Deron at the 2, but I am a little concerned with the viability of his replacement with the current roster. Watson is good in stretches (looked pretty good in 44+ minutes against Houston), and I love Ronnie P – he is a hustler, even if undersized. One option? Word on the street puts Andre Miller on the market, and we know that Portland likes Utah assets…perhaps management could send a bench asset or two to the Blazers, in turn for Andre Miller. I understand he still maintains contact with the U of U. Of course its just a pipe dream, but Andre Miller at point and D-Will at 2 would be a sick backcourt. Thoughts?

  7. Armaughani says:

    Great take Jason! “Let Deron be Deron”, love it! Earl is perfectly capable of running our offense and why limit our top scoring threat? Earl to Deron..sounds pretty good!

  8. BillM says:

    Great idea. Too bad it will never be tried, at least not while Deron’s in a Jazz uni. Deron, Matthews, Maynor, not a bad young backcourt rotation, sigh…

    The Jazz were hoping Hayward would be ready for some serious time at the 2, and that Raja had starters minutes left in the tank, and it’s been a disaster, no way to spin out.

    From playing around with ESPN’s Trade Machine it seems impossible to construct a logical trade headup where the Jazz get Andre Miller and the salaries match. Have to be a multi-team deal. Portland would want some real talent back, and the Jazz would have to save money on the deal. Plus Miller has another year on his deal at almost 7.3mil.

  9. Zach Point says:

    I too played around with ESPN’s Trade Machine it sucks you can’t trade it so Jazz get Andre Miller with matching salaries.

    But you’re right, you could with a multi-team deal.

    Portland NEEDS talent, and Jazz would def. save money.

  10. BillM says:

    From an idea by Bill Simmons, here are the modern-era champs whose leading scorer (regular season) also lead them in assists: Kobe ’09-’10; Wade ’06 (LOL refs); Isiah ’89 (AD traded mid-season was slightly higher) & ’90; Magic ’87; Bird ’84 & ’86. Ugh. We’re slightly dissimilar to those teams. The year Tiny Archibald lead the league in both scoring & assists his team missed the playoffs.

    And aside from the three Pistons champs (inc. Chauncey ’04 and that was the most unusual champ ever) and maybe Seattle ’78, you have to go a loooooong way back to find a champ whose best player was a ‘pure’ PG. I guess you can say a PG is a PG so Magic counts, or that MJ handled the ball as much as a PG, but that just helps my argument, IMO.

    A strong case can be made that Sheed was the best player on the ’04 Pistons instead of Chauncey, and again, that team is as dissimilar from this Jazz squad as two teams can be. What the Jazz have been trying to do is just a very tough historical mountain. Now, maybe if we had Ray Allen & Joachim Noah…

    The most successful playoff run in the DW era featured him playing some 2 alongside another, smaller PG, IIRC.

    All that said, if we were more solid at outside shooting and interior defense, DW can play PG all season long.

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