Growing up in Salt Lake City, I watched a lot of Karl Malone and John Stockton. Two of the purest players to ever play the game – you dont see those kind much nowadays.
Going home to Utah last weekend and attending the Jazz/Hornets game, I had glimpses of déjà vu. Watching Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer perfectly execute a pick and roll, is like watching the 2007 version of Stockton and Malone but with a few more tattoos and slightly longer shorts. Like Stockton, Deron is the ultimate floor general. Fundamentals over flash, D-Willy is a smart, competitive point guard equip with every attribute a point guard should have. Boozer might be one of the last pure 4s in the league today. A bruiser like the Mailman was, Carlos can rebound, post up and knock down 15 footers like three-foot putts.
Sitting in the stands of the Energy Solutions Arena, I started to think. I wondered if Williams and Boozer were actually better than their predecessors, and whether they could give the Jazz to the one thing the Hall of Fame Stockton and Malone couldnt: a championship.
My answers? Yes and yes.
In just his third season, Deron is far more advanced than Stockton was in this stage of their careers. Williams has already lead his team to the Western Conference Finals and earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. This year, Williams is averaging 17.4 points and 8.3 dimes, versus Stocktons third-year averages of 7.9 points and 8.2 assists. Plus at 64 and 200 pounds, Deron is bigger and more athletic than Stockton.
While Stockton was more a lead-by-example sort of leader, Deron is more vocal. Who could forget training camp, when he called out Andrei Kirilenkos work ethic and commitment. Whether you agree with his choice to do that, Deron is a true competitor that wants to win. Deron will continue to improve, and it wont be long before he and Chris Paul will be the best point guards in the league.
Boozer, on the other hand, is almost a carbon copy of the Mailman. Both players had that stacked physique of around 69 and a solid 260. Near the end of his career, Malone was a better shooter and post passer than Boozer is now. But Carlos is only 25-years old and with has plenty of time to grow. The downfall for Carlos is he is injury prone. Malone and Stockton were two of the most durable players in the history of the game.
As fart as chemistry goes, Williams and Boozer got it. If they got compliment each other well right now, can you imagine if they stay together for another 10 years? There is no question if they stay healthy, that they will be NBA champions. Can they do it this year? Probably not. Although they made the Western Finals last year, it will be hard for them to return to that point. Right now, the Suns and Spurs are still better teams in my eyes and the team is still one player away from overcoming the hump.
Eventually Nash and Duncan will start to decline and that is the time Williams and Boozer will start to peak. And when they do, theyll bring home the hardware and the city will go crazy. Well as crazy as you can get in Utah anyway.