Let’s talk Deron Williams for a second. Best point guard in the NBA? There are plenty nipping at his heels, but for my money, yes. I’d start a team with him in reality. But fantasy? Williams settles in clearly behind Chris Paul in our little game here, and it could be argued Deron’s value is a little overrated. There won’t be many players with more assists, but do you really want to burn a first-round pick on someone who isn’t outstanding in any other category? Wouldn’t you rather wait until the third or fourth to take Russell Westbrook or Darren Collison? It’s a tough call when you are staring down a pick anywhere from seven to 11, so here’s some tough advice: do it. Williams has essentially treaded water statistically for three years, but with a tweaked roster (Al Jefferson in, Carlos Boozer out; Mehmet Okur hurt) I think you’ll see a more aggressive Williams, at least offensively. He’ll score 20+ points this season, increase his threes slightly and take that next step. He still won’t catch Paul, but you can build your geek squad around him.
Williams welcomes Jefferson this season to his arsenal of weapons, an intriguing move that should keep Utah at least competing for a spot in the top half of the West. Jefferson is one of the few pure back-to-the-basket big men in the game and he’ll command shots in the paint. Hopefully statisticians continue to award Williams with dimes even if Al holds onto the ball a little longer than Boozer did before shooting. Since this is Utah, we shouldn’t be too worried, right John Stockton? Jefferson should man the center position with the injury to Okur, who could miss a few months after rupturing an achilles. This means Paul Millsap is going to get starters minutes, and fantasy owners should be ecstatic. Millsap is a nightly double-double threat who could render Okur a bench option when he finally returns. He’s that good.
The rest of Utah’s lineup gives us some pause. Andrei Kirilenko is entering a contract year, but I’m not sure you should use an early pick on him. He’ll start at small forward, most likely, but the guy who averaged three blocks and two steals is not walking through that door. Kirilenko also hasn’t played more than 72 games in a season since 2004. The Jazz lost Kyle Korver and Wes Matthews in free agency, and in their place signed Raja Bell and will have to play rookie Gordon Hayward. I don’t see how this is a positive. I’ve also never been a huge fan of swingman C.J. Miles, likely the sixth man at this point. Ronnie Price is Williams’ backup and not a fantasy factor. The team is hoping to re-sign Kyrylo Fesenko before camp and recently added Francisco Elson, perhaps via reanimation. There’s not a lot of quality depth here, especially offensively; another reason I see Williams trying to make more happen.
D-Will should be secretly licking his chops that Okur is sidelined. This team needs a shot in the arm and a full-time Millsap could be the difference. From a fantasy standpoint, dorks like us can’t wait to watch Millsap and Jefferson team with Williams to form a three-headed statistical monster every night. This is going to be fun. I’m targeting Jefferson at the end of the second round; he should be over his knee injury and thrilled to be on a contender. He could easily average 20-23 points but Millsap and his magnet hands will make sure his rebounding average hovers around nine. Somebody get me Marvel on the line, I just thought of something cool.
PG – Deron Williams, Ronnie Price
SG – Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward
SF – Andrei Kirilenko, C.J. Miles
PF – Paul Millsap, Jeremy Evans
C – Al Jefferson, Mehmet Okur (injured), Francisco Elson
Up Next: Washington Wizards