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Friday’s Overrated, Underrated: D-Williams 

Uh-oh.Two weeks ago, I went easy and only wrote about a couple of underrated players. This time I’m so miffed at the Jerry Sloan situation, I have to go off on Utah’s Mr. Williams for a while.



Deron Williams, Utah Jazz

Let’s get this up-front: I love Deron Williams as a player and think he’s at the top of any “second-best PG in the NBA after Chris Paul” debate. He sets up his team well, keeps everyone on the same page, gets in the lane at will with that cross-over, takes over when he needs to, etc. Give him the ball, and you can generally trust how the club will be run for the next 48 minutes. This placement of Williams in the Overrated bin is about the Jerry Sloan mess.

Let’s lay out what we seem to know about the situation (more to be revealed, no doubt): 1) Utah has a single major sports franchise, the Jazz, so the state’s fans are rabid about that team. 2) Jerry Sloan had been the coach of the Jazz for 23 years and was very successful in that role, which means he’s very popular in Utah. 3) Sloan is well known for being set in his ways – which again, were very successful ways. 4) As an old-school, set-in-his-ways kind of guy, young players sometimes didn’t like playing for him. 5) Williams apparently didn’t like running Sloan’s conservative offense and wanted more control of what happened on the floor. 6) Players will almost always side with star players over coaches. 7) As the team’s unquestioned leader and All-Star, Williams probably had a near majority of the players following his lead. 8) Supposedly Williams sometimes ran different plays on the court than what Sloan called, and there was a growing rift in the locker room between the players (who are lead by Williams) and the coaches. 9) Supposedly Williams made it clear to Jazz ownership that he would not re-up his contract next summer if Sloan was still the coach. 10) Sloan retired this week just a month after signing a contract extension.

This is headed nowhere good. Sloan was one of only three coaches in the NBA who has seemingly been around forever and has had success upon success (Greg Popovich, Phil Jackson). This is not the type of guy you get rid of. And now he’s leaving the team he’s been with since early in the careers of John Stockton and Karl Malone. And it’s likely he’s leaving because of Deron Williams, who will now be the most hated man in the state of Utah. Especially if the team gets worse with a slightly new system in place that will sometime soon be replaced by a totally new system that Williams likes, but will require new players and lots of practice, which will be accompanied by a downturn in the team’s success in the short-term, which will all ultimately result in Williams leaving town in a year or two. And there you have it, no more Hall of Fame coach and no more top-3 point guard.

If you’re not familiar with the Jazz’s ownership situation, they’re run by Greg Miller (officially the CEO who runs the Estate of Larry Miller), whose father Larry was the owner from 1985 until his death in 2009. Larry Miller was another conservative, set-in-his-ways kind of guy (he had Brokeback Mountain pulled from movie complexes he owned when he found out what it was about) who got along famously with Sloan. Utah sports writers and radio personalities have already said openly that this Sloan fiasco would have never happened this way if Larry was around, but he’s not. The team did what Williams wanted, which will make the team worse and make him a hated man in a location that doesn’t exactly have the free agency draw of Miami. Why would he stay?

Again, I love Deron Williams as a player, but he just ended the career of the third-winningest coach in NBA history (while his club was winning nearly 60% of their games) and probably ended the sustained run of success this franchise has been on. You don't push a guy like that out; the short-term results are never good

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    Friday’s Overrated, Underrated: D-Williams - Behind the Basket - The Antidote for Conventional Wisdom

Reader Comments (2)

Well, the heat that was on Carlos Boozer is definitely off and replaced with D-Will. This thing has been festering all season, and has played an integral part of CJ Miles inconsistency. Jefferson is not the player that Boozer is and is terrible running the pick and roll. Boozer could roll or pop. The trade of Ronnie Brewer should have been the flag to set management in motion for Deron to put a filter on his comments. After that, he knew he had the green light to say what he wanted in the press and to the coaches. I still believe there are a few point guards better than him and when things go awry he pouts and blames everyone else for his issues running the team. D-Rose took him to the woodshed the other night and he blamed Sloans ply calling, when in reality if the Jazz had hit their free throws this is all for naught, but it just would have lasted one more game, possibly. At this point, I don't see D-Will getting any better than he is. If it's Dallas he wants, I would oblige him and get something for him before he is looked at as a cancer by other organizations, which I'm told has already been the case. I'm glad Jerry took the high road because for a 69 year old man, he has still been known to invoke some fear in even the toughest of players. Time to burn it down, rebuild and let Deron take his minstrel show on the road elsewhere.

February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWill

so sloan leaves, corbin takes over for the rest of the season, says he won't change things up, d-will gets....what? More of the same but somehow different?

Thank christ the jazz have millsap, who can pick & roll with williams instead of a-jeff.

I hate to see a team like utah crash and burn so hopefully things pick up, but as you've pointed out it looks like this situation may get worse before it improves.

February 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJW

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