Tomorrow when the Brooklyn Nets visit the Los Angeles Clippers for their second and final meeting of the season (barring an NBA finals matchup), we will be treated to the 19th chapter in the Deron Williams-Chris Paul rivalry. The two players have always been compared to each other after they were each selected as top 5 picks in the 2005 NBA draft. Following their college days, they were each drafted into small market NBA cities, Utah and New Orleans, where they starred on often good, but never great teams. Now, they are in much bigger markets, New York and Los Angeles, and each player has hopes to lead their once forgotten team to never before seen heights.
In this article, we will look at many aspects of each players’ career to try and determine who has been better.
Both Deron Williams and Chris Paul went to schools in major conferences, but schools whose traditions were often out-shined by other teams in the conference. D-Will’s school Illinois does not have as rich a history as schools like Indiana and Ohio State while CP3’s Wake Forest is a small school in comparison to Duke and North Carolina. Still, the two point guards led their teams to impressive seasons. In Deron’s 3 years in college, his team made the tournament all 3 times, going all the way to the NCAA championship game his final season. Deron had an impecable 88-16 record while at Illinois. Chris Paul, meanwhile also had an impressive record in college. In 2 seasons, Wake Forest had a record of 48-16 and went to the Sweet Sixteen in Paul’s freshman season.
Statistically, Chris Paul probably has a slight edge. In the 2005 season, he averaged 15 points, 7 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.4 steals. Deron Williams averaged 12.5 points, 7 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1 steal. However, because of Deron’s overall team success, he was selected 1 pick higher than Paul in the draft. It is very difficult to decide who had the better college career, but I believe the edge goes to Deron because Illinois reached the championship game in 2005 while Wake Forest was eliminated in the second round of the tournament that season.
Offense and Defense statistics:
Chris Paul has a slight edge over Deron Williams in nearly every offensive category. Below is a look at their career stats in many important categories:
Deron Williams: 17.7 points, 9.0 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 45.2% FG, 35.6% 3-pt FG, 81.7% FT, 3.1 turnovers.
Chris Paul: 18.6 points, 9.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 47.3% FG, 35.8 3-pt FG, 85.7 FT, 2.4 turnovers.
These numbers seem to suggest that Paul is the slightly better player over the course of his NBA career.
The two players have never met in the playoffs. However, Deron holds a commanding lead in head-to-head games, winning 14 of the previous 18 games he has played against Paul, including 2-0 with the Nets (once last season in New Jersey and once earlier this season in Brooklyn). In the head-to-head meetings, both players have averaged slightly below their career numbers, which means that both players have played pretty good defense against each other.
Deron Williams’s awards: 3 all-star appearances, 2 all-NBA second team selections, skills challenge champion, all-rookie first team, 2 olympic gold medals.
Chris Paul’s awards: 6 all-star appearances, 1 all-star game MVP, 2 all-NBA first teams, one all-NBA second team, one all-NBA third team, 2 all-NBA defensive first team, 2 all-NBA defensive second team, NBA rookie of the year, 2 NBA assists leader, 4 NBA steals leader, 2 olympic gold medals.
Chris Paul has gotten more awards than Deron Williams has. CP3 has received more recognition for his accomplishments.
Clutch-ness and Leadership:
This category is less about numbers and statistics and more about just watching the teams play. Chris Paul has always been the go-to #1 option on offense for his teams, especially when he was with New Orleans. Although he did have some good teammates such as David West and Tyson Chandler, both those players were more defensive than offensive and it was often up to Chris Paul to take the final shots of games. Even now with the Clippers, CP3 is the team’s closer, even with Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, and Chauncey Billups.
Deron Williams has never really seemed to have the clutch-ness gene, nor has he ever looked to take important shots. In Utah he had offensively talented players with him like Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap, and Mehmet Okur and in Jerry Sloan’s system, he never needed to take the last shot of games. Since he has joined the Nets, he has not made many last second shots either. This season, the Nets have turned to Joe Johnson and even Brook Lopez with the game on the line. Deron has made some big shots in the last 5 minutes of games, but not very many in the final 30 seconds. Additionally, most people would not consider D-Will the leader or captain of the Nets. Gerald Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, and Keith Bogans have been the veteran leaders for the team even though they are obviously not the best players. Deron falls short in this category.
In Chris Paul’s 7 NBA seasons, he has made the playoffs 4 times, 3 times with New Orleans and once with Los Angeles. He has been eliminated twice in the first round and twice in the second round, including being swept last season by San Antonio. His playoff record is 14-20.
Like Paul, Deron Williams has also made the playoffs 4 times in his 7 full seasons. After missing the playoffs his rookie season, Deron made the playoffs in 4 consecutive seasons with Utah. The next season he was traded to the Nets, who were already out of the playoff picture by the time of the trade deadline, so we cannot blame Deron for missing the playoffs that season. The season after that, the final season in New Jersey, Deron’s team suffered the most injuries in the NBA and again did not make the playoffs. Unlike Paul, Deron has only lost in the first round once and has made the conference finals, where Utah lost to San Antonio. Deron has a record of 20-24 in the playoffs.
Each player will also make the playoffs this season and right now each is in 4th place in their respective conference. Although Deron’s teams have not been as good as Chris Paul’s teams the past two seasons, overall his teams have had more success and have went farther in the playoffs. One could say that D-Will’s teams were more talented with Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap, and others, but CP3’s teams also had David West and Tyson Chandler, two of the premiere defensive players in the NBA right now.
If you were expecting me to answer the question of who is the better point guard, I’m sorry because I don’t have an answer for you. Although Chris Paul has probably played better this season and is the more popular player, Deron Williams has been fighting off nagging injuries the whole year and only now appears to be healthy and has probably been playing better than Chris Paul over the last month.
In the 6 aspects of basketball I listed, each player takes 3 of them, meaning we have a tie. However, both players are in the prime of their careers and still have lots of time to leave their legacies. The Nets and Clippers will play again tomorrow night at 10:30 pm eastern.
Who do you think has had a better career? Leave your thoughts below.