Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Williams takes CP3's title

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - Coaches in all sports are fond of saying you can't lose your spot due to injury.

That cliche only gets ramped up if you are a star.

The NBA's best point guard, Chris Paul, went through his most difficult season as a pro this year in the Big Easy. After a poor 3-6 start to the season, the Hornets fired head coach Byron Scott in November and replaced him with general manager Jeff Bower, a move Paul didn't agree with. The three-time All-Star expressed his displeasure and sparked some controversy when he claimed management should have consulted with him before pulling the trigger.

The next day, Paul suffered a left ankle sprain against the Portland Trail Blazers and missed eight games. His injury-riddled season continued in early February when an MRI revealed a torn meniscus in his left knee, forcing the former Rookie of the Year and Olympic Gold Medalist to undergo arthroscopic surgery.

Paul was sidelined for nearly eight weeks, missing 25 contests and the 2010 All-Star Game. He finally returned to action on March 22 but with the season going nowhere, New Orleans shut down its superstar for good just over two weeks later.

Through it all, rookie first round pick Darren Collison actually excelled in Paul's absence, but anyone thinking the former UCLA star has any chance of taking minutes away from Paul next season probably needs a few sessions with a therapist.

Chris Paul went through his most difficult season as a pro this year.
Chris Paul isn't losing his spot to a rookie with an upside.

His mantle as the game's best point guard, however, is in play.

Just like boxing fans, who often like to debate who the best pound-for-pound pugilist is, basketball fans love comparisons.

Head down to the legendary Blue Horizon in North Philadelphia and you are sure to hear the locals discussing the merits of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao. Head down to your local barbershop to talk hoops and it might be "Who's better -- Kobe or LeBron?"

Before this tortured season, Paul was the undisputed King of NBA point guards. Now, Utah's Deron Williams is topping more than a few lists.

Jerry Sloan's quarterback has been spectacular in the team's Western Conference quarterfinals series with Denver.

Despite missing two starters due to injury, the Jazz have a commanding 3-1 edge in the set with a chance to put things away in the Rockies on Wednesday. Williams has been the catalyst, torturing fellow All-Star Chauncey Billups.

"I have great respect for Chauncey, but Deron Williams is just kicking his (butt)," TNT analyst Charles Barkley said Sunday. "He is dominating this series totally. He has been the best player in every game. He is imposing his will and this team is missing two of their better players (Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur)."

The dynamic Illinois product scored 24 points and distributed 13 assists in Sunday's pivotal Game 4 win, joining the Cincinnati Royals' Oscar Robertson (1965 Eastern Division semifinals vs. Philadelphia), the Suns' Kevin Johnson (1989 Western Conference finals against the LA Lakers) and the Lakers' Magic Johnson (1990 Western Conference semifinals against Phoenix) as the only players in NBA history to register at least 20 points and 10 or more assists in each of the first four games of a playoff series.

"One of the reasons why Chauncey can't do anything is because Deron Williams is going after him," Chris Webber said. "Defensively, he can't lock down on him."

So, who's the best right now -- CP3 or D-Will?

"(Williams') size, his strength and his vision as a point guard. This is the best point guard in the game right now," Reggie Miller said.

"If somebody says (Deron Williams) is arguably the best point guard, nobody's arguing," Barkley added. "He is the best point guard in the NBA."

Hail to the new King.

No comments: