Deron Williams, Devin Harris, and the Best Point Guard in the NBA

Here is Billy King – the Nets general manager – commenting on the Nets acquisition of Deron Williams:“I feel Deron Williams is the best point guard in the NBA. And when you want to try to win you need a point guard and a center, and I think we have two of the best.”

Okay, Brook Lopez is not really a great center. Last December I wondered why Lopez was not part of all the packages the Nets put together in an effort to acquire Carmelo Anthony.  And now his current WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes] is -0.068. 

This short post, though, isn’t about rehashing the problems with Lopez.  I want to talk briefly about the idea that Deron Williams is the best point guard in the game.

The following table compares Deron Williams to Devin Harris and Chris Paul. 

Williams is replacing Harris in New Jersey.  And as one can see, Williams offers more than Harris.  The big difference is that Williams is a much more efficient scorer.  Consequently, Williams offers – across 3,000 minutes – about six more wins than Harris.

Currently the Nets are on pace to win about 24 games, and that puts the Nets firmly in the lottery.  With Williams, the Nets would be on pace to win about 30 games.  That is enough to… okay, Nets are still a lottery team.  And since the Nets had to give up Derrick Favors to make this happen, fans of the Nets should still think there team has improved. But the team hasn’t improved very much.

Now what if the Nets actually acquired the best point guard?  Yes, that would be Chris Paul.  CP3 doesn’t just shoot efficiently (like Williams).  Paul also rebounds, grabs steals, and avoids turnovers.  Consequently, Paul produces many more wins.

In fact, it appears the difference between Paul and Williams is bigger than the difference between Williams and Harris.  In other words, it appears the difference between Williams and the point guard the Nets had is smaller than the difference between Williams and the actual best point guard in the NBA.

And all that means that the assessment of Billy King appears to be a little bit off.  But that doesn’t mean the Nets aren’t a bit better today.  And that means the Nets lottery pick, which is going to Utah this year, might not be as good as it looked yesterday (but I still think it could be pretty good).

Of course just getting a lottery pick doesn’t guarantee that you will get a productive player.  But the Jazz have a good chance of missing the playoffs now, so they might be getting two lottery picks (and yes, that isn’t a guarantee of anything either).

– DJ

P.S.  My hope is to post more on the two big trades this week from the perspective of the Jazz and Nuggets.  Look for these posts in the next few days.

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