Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry and Tony Parker. Those are the names of the players people have put among the top point guards in the NBA all season. But there is one player who is missing.
After a slow start to this season, Deron Williams has finally hit his stride and put himself back in the discussion for the best point guard in the NBA.
The Utah Jazz selected Williams with the third overall selection in the 2005 draft. In his first five seasons, Williams averaged 16.7 points and nine assists per game, including three seasons in which he averaged a double-double.
He was traded to the team formerly known as the New Jersey Nets in the middle of the 2010-11 season. Now the Nets have moved to Brooklyn and brought in some talent around Williams that has put them in position to finish among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Despite having guys like Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace as his supporting cast, Williams struggled with consistency at the start of the season.
In the 50 games before the All-Star break, Williams averaged 16.7 points, while shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from three. He looked tired and out of shape.
Then the All-Star break came and gave Williams a few days off. And those days off seemed to do wonders because he has been the best player in the Eastern Conference, not on the Miami Heat, since the All-Star break.
In the last 14 games, Williams has averaged 23.4 points, 7.7 assists and 2.9 rebounds, with a 47.6 field-goal percentage and 46 percent from three.
He also hit 11 three-pointers in a game against the Washington Wizards. The 11 three-pointers was a Nets record and the nine threes he hit in the first half, was an record for three-pointers in a half.
The Nets are 8-6 since the All-Star break and have moved within one game of their rival New York Knicks in the Atlantic Division. They are in a good position to surpass the Knicks, finish second or third in the Eastern Conference and make a decent run in the playoffs.
Much of the Nets' success the rest of the season and in the playoffs depends on Williams.
What separates Williams from most point guards is his size and speed. He plays physically and uses his size to outmatch his opponents, while also using his speed to explode past them.
For the past couple years, many argued between Paul and Williams, as who the top point guard in the league was. But because of the rise in elite point guards and Williams' struggles to start the season, Williams fell out of the discussion for a little while.
Now, with the way he is playing, Williams has returned to his elite point guard form and is back atop the rankings of best point guard in the NBA.