HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We barely got a chance to savor All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo‘s historic performance before another All-Star point guard, Deron Williams, blew the lid off of a star-studded weekend with a career-high and NBA-season high 57-point performance in a win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
In an era that has to be classified as the golden age for NBA point guards, there are any number of supernatural performances that come out way on a weekly basis.
But the 57 points (a franchise record) Williams dropped Sunday night deserve another look. He only took 29 shots to get his points, though he was a perfect 21-for-21 from the free throw line. And he did have seven assists and six rebounds to go along with his points, all done in just 38 minutes of game action.
In a season that could have been lost for Williams, who is headed towards free agency this summer, he is showing off why he is considered one of the top three or four point guards in basketball.
Williams remains a unique figure in this generation of NBA players for more than just his superstar skills. His trade from Utah to New Jersey last season marked a major milestone for teams dealing in the realm of players manipulating their own futures. Williams was the one star to get moved without the benefit of the build up (guys like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and now Dwight Howard enjoyed or are enjoying).
The ramifications of the decision to trade Williams that way were highlighted by SI.com’s Ian Thomsen:
Utah’s decision to trade Williams had lasting impact. It demonstrated that teams need not be held hostage to the demands of franchise players. It also set the stage for the Nets’ pursuit of Howard, and for the Mavericks’ hope of acquiring both Williams and Howard as free agents this summer.
If Williams had known he was on the trade market, [Jazz GM Kevin] O’Connor‘s fear was that he might have tried to seize control as Howard has done by insisting that he would sign a contract extension with no teams other than the Nets, Mavericks and Lakers. That restriction has limited the Magic’s options in spite of Howard’s superior value. “Deron Williams is not Dwight Howard,” O’Connor said. “There’s LeBron [James], Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. To me, Chris Paul and Deron aren’t quite in that ballpark. I might be wrong, but if you were to ask most people in the NBA who would you rather have, I think they’d list those three.”
I disagree with O’Connor on at least one part of this theory. Kobe Bryant, Paul, Williams, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose (who dropped 35 points of his own on the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday) are all in that “ballpark” of great, franchise-changing players, albeit it to varying degrees.
But his point is well taken. Still, in a league where elite point guards absolutely change the face and fate of franchises (Rose in Chicago and now Paul in Los Angeles with the Clippers), the value of Williams can easily be weighed against the value of a player like Howard.
And if there is anything to some of these trade rumors, it might not matter anyway. Because Williams and Howard could be teammates one day.
Highest scoring games this season
|Deron Williams||March 4||NJN||@ CHA||38||16||29||55.2%||4||11||21||21||57|
|Kevin Durant||Feb. 19||OKC||vs.
|Kobe Bryant||Jan. 10||LAL||vs. PHX||39||18||31||58.1%||0||3||12||13||48|
|Monta Ellis||Feb. 7||GS||vs.
|Dwight Howard||Jan. 12||Orl||@ GSW||44||12||21||57.1%||0||0||21||39||45|