Paul best young point guard

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Player A and player B are both point guards in the NBA. Player A is the better passer, scorer, penetrator, leader, defensive player, free throw shooter, rebounder and ball handler. Player B, meanwhile, is the superior outside shooter and has better size. So who is the better player? This seems so clear-cut that I shouldn’t even have to ask. But apparently, I do. Many of the so-called experts and other sorts seem to think that the choice is player B. Player B is Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz. And to many, he is better than player A, Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets. Somebody should strip these people of their media credentials, because that’s a bit preposterous.

To figure this out, it’s important to define what a point guard should be. Firstly, he’s the floor general, so he needs to take care of the basketball and get his teammates involved. Being a good passer is a must, as is limiting turnovers and maximizing possessions. Also, if teammates are struggling on offense and aren’t making shots, the point guard should be capable of taking on the scoring load.

The point guard should be an extension of the coach and a leader on the floor. He should control the tempo and take the opposing point guard out of rhythm with tough defense.

I would argue that Paul does all these things better than Williams. But don’t just take my word for it, look at the statistics – they all agree with me.

Ever since Williams and Paul were taken back-to-back in the 2005 NBA Draft, they have been constantly linked and compared to each other. Utah selected Williams with the third pick, Paul with the fourth by New Orleans. At the time, the Jazz received a fair amount of criticism for passing up Paul in favor of Williams. They argued that Williams was a better fit for their offense, which very well may be true – but that doesn’t change the fact that Paul is the better basketball player. Let’s start the analysis with the statistics most important for a point guard – assists and turnovers, which pretty accurately gauges the effectiveness in how the player runs the offense. Although the gap in assists per game has narrowed between the two, Paul had a decisive edge in his rookie season. At the age of 20, Paul averaged 7.8 per game, while Williams just 4.3. Currently, Paul ranks second in the NBA with 10.8 per game, with Williams fourth at 9.7. Even more telling are the turnovers. Williams averages almost a full turnover more per game than Paul, as only four players in the entire league turn the ball over more frequently than Williams. Despite constantly having the ball in his hands for the Hornets, 27 players – including several forwards – turn the ball over more than Paul. Adding to that, Williams and the Jazz play slower on offense than the Hornets do, so their turnover rates should be the complete opposite. Most importantly, Paul is miles ahead of Williams in assist-to-turnover ratio. Paul ranks 4th in the NBA with an impressive 4.02-to-1 ratio, while Williams ranks behind 20 players at 2.78-to-1, including several backup point guards like Jeff McInnis, Anthony Carter, Charlie Bell and Carlos Arroyo. Paul supporters would, just weeks ago, mention that Williams has a better supporting cast (Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur) than Paul has (David West, Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic). They would argue that Paul has less to work with, making what he was doing even more impressive. After a recent nine-game winning streak for the Hornets – giving them the best record in the Western Conference at the time – coupled with West being named to the All-Star team, some may disagree that Williams has superior talent surrounding him. But the point is being missed here. West is a terrific player and so is Chandler, but it is no coincidence that both players took major leaps forward when Paul came to town from Wake Forest. This is particularly true for Chandler, who was essentially left for dead by the Chicago Bulls. A lot of the credit goes to Paul, who helped those two guys reach the next level. Paul also deserved some praise for all the other things he does on the floor, such as rebounding and scoring. The two arguments that I hear most often for Williams over Paul is shooting and size. Yes, Williams shoots at a higher clip from the field for his career (46.1 percent to 44.5) and from the perimeter (37.2 to 32.2), but Paul is well above those averages this season. Forget that – Paul scores more points than Williams, consistently, despite also doing a better job distributing the ball to his teammates. And free throw shooting isn’t even close (Paul 84.3 percent in career, Williams 76.2). Paul currently averages a career-high 20.3 points per game, while Williams is averaging an even 19. In career average, Paul holds the edge by nearly three points per game (17.5 to 14.8). What is even more ridiculous is the size comparison, like somehow the fact that Williams is three inches taller (6-foot-3 to 6-foot) makes him the better player. The incredible thing is that the height should aid Williams in two key areas – rebounding and defense, but Paul has the edge in both areas. How come with a three-inch height advantage and 30 extra pounds, Williams has been outrebounded by Paul in every season of their careers? Paul has averaged 4.6 per game in his career, Williams just 2.9. And even most experts agree that Williams doesn’t use his physical presence well enough on defense. Paul plays tougher “D” and holds a monstrous edge in steals over Williams.

Paul led the NBA in steals last season and leads again this season. Williams has had problems averaging 1.1 per game, while Paul was on pace earlier this season to be the first player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 10 assists and three steals per game. So who’s better? Don’t listen to those ESPN experts, just use common sense. Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]