The Utah Jazz have boasted the best point guard in the National Basketball Association on at least one occasion. Of course, we’re talking about John Stockton, who held that title unequivocally for a large portion of his NBA career, spent entirely in Salt Lake City. However, from 2005-06 up to midway through the 2010-11 season, the Jazz arguably rostered another player worthy of that moniker in Deron Williams. Here’s the trade that changed the Utah Jazz for a half decade, after a disastrous 2004-05 season that saw the team finish with a 26-56 record.
The rest is history. The Utah Jazz would go onto select Deron Williams with the 3rd overall pick in the 2005 draft. Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers would select future journeymen Martell Webster, Linas Kleiza and Joel Freeland.
Let’s just say the good folks at Rip City Project probably won’t include this trade in an article about their franchises’ best historical trades.
All told, the swap generated a whopping 46.7 future Win Shares (WS) for the Jazz, compared to 13.3 for the Trail Blazers. Deron Williams was rivalled only by Chris Paul for the status of best point guard in the league during much of his tenure in Utah.
The zenith of combined individual success for Williams and team success for the Utah Jazz likely came in 2007-08. That season, Deron Williams averaged 18.8 points and 10.5 assists per game. His advanced metrics were equally robust, with a 20.8 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and a 4.5 Value Over Replacement Player (VORP). Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz finished the season 54-28 and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals.
Sadly, William’s reign as the face of the Utah Jazz came to an abrupt ending, as the star point guard fell out with Utah Jazz icon Jerry Sloan and was jettisoned to the New Jersey Nets over the 2010-11 season. His run as one of the NBA’s elite point guards was cut equally short, as by 2013-14, Williams was almost inexplicably a shell of his former self in his age 29 season.
Things may have not have worked out between the hyper-talented point guard and the Utah Jazz in the fashion that all parties involved would have hoped, but Jazz fans need not lament. It’s difficult to imagine we’d be discussing the Martell Webster era of Jazz basketball in 2021.