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Utah Jazz: NBA’s best point guard? Deron Williams getting votes

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DENVER — Deron Williams is the best point guard in the NBA.

Says who?

Deron Williams, that's who.

Not that they're biased or anything, but you can add Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko to that list.

And ESPN columnist Bill Simmons has finally stepped aboard the D-Will bandwagon, too — a revelation that will come as a huge shock to anybody who knows how big of a Chris Paul fanboy "The Sports Guy" is.

Asked Wednesday about Williams' point-guard supremacy, Kirilenko didn't hesitate with a "yes, yes" response. Boozer replied, "Hands down."

Told about Boozer's proclamation, the Jazz playmaker didn't flinch or disagree in the slightest.

"I feel like I'm the best point guard in the league," Williams said.

And he's felt that confidently "for a while." He puts his pal Paul as No. 2 and ranks Phoenix's Steve Nash third, for the record.

But Simmons?

The same guy who once pleaded with people to stop comparing Williams with Paul — whom he gushed "fell out of the sky" — because, "It's just dumb." The writer who claimed Williams might go down as a great generational point guard while Paul could end up a top 25 all-time player. The dude who wrote: "Comparing (Paul) with Deron Williams is like comparing Pearl Jam to Stone Temple Pilots. Don't waste your time."

My, how Simmons has changed his tune since 2008.

"I've got to say I think he's the best point guard," Simmons said Wednesday on his ESPN podcast. "Chris Paul, we don't know about his knee, you know, bad team. I think Deron Williams has the point guard conch, using the 'Lord of the Flies' term."

Simmons started making the realization that Williams is the game's best point guard — as sacrilegious as it might be for him to utter — at this year's All-Star Game. To him, it was clear that D-Will had elevated to elite-four level amongst the NBA's finest.

"That kind of made me rethink: 'Is this guy better than maybe I'm giving him credit for?' " Simmons said. "I thought he was awesome down the stretch. He's been awesome in this series."

That praise is almost like hearing Simon go ga-ga over a singer.

As for Kirilenko, he believes his teammate is at the top of his game and above every other point guard's game.

Kirilenko described Williams' play — in which he averaged 26.8 points and 12 rebounds while putting Utah up 3-1 — as "probably MVP-style basketball." He gave Williams a ton of credit for the Jazz's first-round success despite the absence of himself and Mehmet Okur because of injuries.

"How Deron goes, the whole team goes," Kirilenko said. "And he's really the engine of our team."

Adrian Dantley didn't weigh in on the informal point guard poll, but Denver's acting coach completely agrees with how vital Williams' contributions are to Utah's effectiveness.

The old Jazz star might have shown his hand, though, when explaining that the Nuggets were much more effective in bottling up Chris Paul on traps when Denver stormed past New Orleans in the first round last postseason.

Dantley even used eyebrow-raising descriptions of Paul and Williams.

CP3, the coach said, "is like slow-motion."

Comparatively, Dantley continued, "Williams goes; he's quicker; he's fast; he's bigger."

By his gestures, you could read into it that Dantley was talking about how Williams explodes to the basket with a dizzying first-step burst, while Paul seems to dance around like lightning en route to the hoop.

Edge: Williams.

"He's pretty good," Dantley said. "We've played pretty good defense, but he makes some great plays, bottom line."

You can guess who Jazz coach Jerry Sloan would call the NBA's best point guard.

Actually, you'll have to guess.

Verbally crowning players as the kings of their positions just isn't Sloan's thing.

"I try," he said, "not to get involved in that argument."

But he doesn't mind that Williams cast a vote for himself.

"I don't have a problem with it. That's an individual thing," Sloan said. "I hope they have confidence. He certainly has always shown that he has confidence. Bottom line is, he's stepped out there and played pretty well."

Another war of words Sloan avoids?

Deron Williams vs. John Stockton.

The coach bluntly and humorously interrupted a Denver TV personality at a Wednesday media session when he started asking if anybody had asked Sloan to compare his two points at this stage in their careers.

"I was afraid somebody was going to ask me tonight," Sloan deadpanned. "I don't do that."

Stockton, the fellow Hall of Famer pointed out, played every game in 17 of his 19 NBA seasons. Williams is just in his fifth year.

"(Stockton) was an unusual player, so is Deron," Sloan said. "But they're different players and it's not fair to go through all the little things that they do differently or alike. That's who they are — they've got to be who they are."

So, why does Williams believe who he is and what he does put him above the rest?

"No reason," the All-Star said. "I just think I'm the best."

Seems like a popular opinion.

The proof is in the performance.

e-mail: jody@desnews.com