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What Deron Williams thinks of Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and their beefs with Shaquille O’Neal

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Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams smiles after a basket during the NBA playoffs first round game 1 in Denver, Colorado, Saturday, April 17, 2010. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Probably not since Deron Williams was the point guard in 2007 and the team made the Western Conference Finals has there been as much hype about the Utah Jazz as there is this season.

On Friday night during the broadcast of the Jazz’s 129-115 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Williams was interviewed for a few minutes by Craig Bolerjack and Thurl Bailey and was asked about Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, particularly in the context of their beefs with Shaquille O’Neal.

Here’s what Williams had to say.

On Donovan Mitchell:

“I think he’s got that ‘it’ factor. He’s got that infectious charisma. You can see he leads by example. He plays hard. His game speaks for itself. That’s never been an issue, and I think this year he’s definitely stepped up in that leadership role.

“He was challenged by Shaq, and I think he’s pretty much answered that challenge. He’s got this team playing really good basketball and it’s fun to watch him. It’s fun to watch him grow and he’s gotten better every year and just continues to grow.”

On Rudy Gobert:

“It’s a different game (today compared to when O’Neal played). His production doesn’t just show up in stats. ... What you don’t see is all the shots that he challenges and how many guys miss just because he’s in the lane and they have to kick it out. His impact isn’t just with stats.

“Shaq’s always been a hater of big men, especially the modern big men. I mean, he just constantly is, and it’s kind of sad honestly to see, but if there’s anybody that can talk and have the ability to talk about guys, it’s Shaq, because he’s put in the work and you can’t really say anything to him.”

At the conclusion of the interview, Williams dropped an interesting line when Bolerjack told him he was welcomed on the broadcast anytime.

“Hopefully I’ll be around more with (new team owner) Ryan (Smith) here. I’m looking forward to it.”