If youre looking for reasons for his success this season, look no further than the fact that he is the leader
of the 24-10 Utah Jazz and the 3rd seed in the loaded Western Conference. His high basketball IQ combined with better decision making has led to this wonderful start to his season. Its no coincidence that when Williams records double digit assist totals this year the Jazz are 9-1. He is the motor that makes this Jazz team go and has Utah fans thinking championship for the first time since Stockton and Malone departed.
The glaring difference between this season and last is Williams assertiveness on the court, he has tremendous poise and does not hesitate to take the clutch shot. His increased confidence has come as a result of a four day camp he attended over the summer with John Stockton
and not having to worry about competing for the starting job. Last season was an up and down year for Williams along with the rest of the Jazz. A lot of the uncertainty surrounding him last year was the fact that he was hands down the best point guard on the roster yet he did not earn starters minutes in practice for much of the year. He looked out of shape and unprepared for the NBA game at times and it showed on the court. When Williams started last year the team suffered, but not to worry, those days are long gone. The biggest improvement in Williams game besides his decision making and shooting has been his defensive effort. Against the top points in the league Williams has not let a single one of them have a big game. Steve Nash
, Tony Parker
, Chauncey Billups
and Jason Kidd
have all had good to mediocre games while being guarded by Williams. As a matter of fact, the best game Williams has allowed to an elite point guard was the 17 point, 10 assist performance Steve Nash
had in the second game of the season. Deron did get burned by Stephon Marbury
on December 18th for 28 points and 8 assists in a loss to the Knicks, although it took a miracle lay-up at the end of the game for the Knicks to pull out the one point victory. That just showed that Williams defense is a major factor in their wins and losses.
Another factor contributing to Williams turnaround season has been his decision making. Too many times last season on the fast break Williams would go coast to coast and not finish or be stuffed at the rim. This season hes passing on the break more often, which has added to his assist total. However, he has also been pulling up for the three a lot which has contributed to his alarming drop off in three point accuracy. All in all he has improved his transition game, although its not yet up to par with the elite points in the league.
Williams decision making has excelled in the half court offense. It appears he has learned that his offense will not come from taking his man off the dribble; hes not as athletically gifted as the majority of the guys that play his position and this is the weakest part of his offensive game. His ability to catch and shoot off screens and his execution of the pick and roll is a major part of why Williams a better player this year than last. Also, with his increased role in the offense, Williams has been taking care of the basketball. His assist to turnover ratio is up from 2.48 to 3.1 despite the increased amount of time he has been handling the ball. Increased confidence can do wonders for young players and theres no doubt confidence has played a major role in the breakout of Williams.
Prior to this season, many had forgotten about the second year player out of Illinois. While fans and writers listed their group of top young points in the NBA, Williams name was remarkably left out. Last summer Williams said that every time someone doubts him he becomes more and more motivated to improve. Well one things for sure, if Williams keeps playing at this higher level he will earn the respect of those that doubt him now.