The Evolution of Deron Williams
Hailing from The Colony, Texas, Deron Williams is arguably the best point guard in the NBA today.
He was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia on June 26, 1984. Williams loved basketball from a young age, and lists Jason Kidd and former Illini Frank Williams as his favorite athletes.
Williams ruled early, averaging 17.6 points, 8.4 assists, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game as a senior at The Colony High School just outside Dallas, Texas. He was the 2001 and 2002 First-Team All-State selection by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. In 2001, he also led The Colony Cougars to an astounding 32-2 record, bringing them to the Texas Class 5A state semifinals.
He left high school ranked No. 27 in the nation by All-Star Report.
Williams showed excellence from his first days at Illinois. In his freshman year, he started 32 of 32 games, averaging 6.3 points, grabbing 3.0 rebounds, and dishing 6.2 assists. He was ranked third in the league in assists, having at least two assists every night. He also had five or more assists 16 times.
As a sophomore, Williams missed three games due to a double jaw fracture. This happened on Dec. 11 when he ran into a screen while playing against Maryland-Eastern Shore. Despite his injury, Williams averaged 14 points and 6.7 assists. Williams also ranked sixth in three-point percentage (39.4 percent) and averaged 2.23 three-pointers per game.
Williams left Illinois early, in his junior year, to enter the 2005 Draft. He was selected third overall by the Utah Jazz.
His first year seemed decent enough. Williams instantly grew on the crowd with his non-selfish play and eager-to-learn awareness. He was strong, smooth, and savvy for his age and height. He more than impressed crowds with his three-point ability at all situations.
Williams finished the 2005-06 season averaging 10.8 points per game and 4.5 assists per game.
Williams' second year with the Jazz was incredible. He improved his defensive game, rising to 3.3 rebounds per game. He took (and made) fewer three-pointers, but burst up to 16.2 points per game. Williams shot .767 from the field, which was higher than the .707 he shot in his first season.
This is exactly what Williams wanted to accomplish. This season was all about warming up his already set-in-stone fundamentals.
Williams' third year as a Jazz player was his best. He averaged a staggering 10.5 assists per game, proving that his ability to pass the ball is undeniable.
This was the year he truly became the second half of Utah Jazz's heart and soul. Williams and teammate Carlos Boozer learned to work together and become what the other is not. They made the Jazz a well-rounded team, and actually made a legit playoff run in the 2007-08 season.
Part of this success must be credited to long-time head coach Jerry Sloan. Sloan is the first and only Jazz coach with a winning record. The 66-year-old won his 1000th game as the Jazz' head coach Nov. 7, 2007 in a 104-97 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in his 20th season at the helm for Utah.
Williams has come a long way, but his incredibly eager attitude to impress and please has stayed with him from his early days in The Colony. Whether it’s on the court or elsewhere, Deron Williams has a twinkle of confidence, and he’s had it for some time. It’s a swagger, a humbleness, and a confidence wrapped into a single gaze. This look hasn’t wavered for years, and it almost scares me how constant it’s been. Deron’s drive and focus will not leave until his plan is complete. The fact that his confidence is so pure makes doubting him impossible.
Williams had the honor of playing for the 2008 Olympic Games hosted by Beijing along with Carlos Boozer. Both had select plays which really benefited the 2008 United States Men's National Basketball Team. Both players were treated like heroes back on their home turf, congratulated on a job well done.
One thing agreed upon among all players on that 12-man roster: It's about the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.
Whether he's scoring or simply running the offense, Williams' presence on a basketball court is felt everywhere and immediately.
He can hit you equally hard with his left or right hand. His cross-over is deadly, and he will leave you dumb-founded when he drives to the lane like a man six inches taller than he is, and, yes, actually dunks on you.
Go ahead, underestimate him. He will go out every night and prove you wrong the moment he steps on the hardwood. His motto is: "What doesn't kill me will make me stronger." And obviously, it has.
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