Deron Williams vs. Chris Paul
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SECAUCUS, N.J., Nov. 8, 2007 --It is bad enough when I get e-mails from readers questioning my player rankings in the Race to the MVP, but now I have a co-worker coming at me sideways.

Here is an instant messenger conversation I had with editor John Jacobson.

John: Mo, take this as constructive criticism. There is no way that the Jazz’s Deron Williams is better than the Hornets Chris Paul.
Maurice: Good afternoon to you too.
John:: Oh my bad, how’s it going?
Maurice: Anyway, I don’t know about that. I originally thought that Paul was the more talented of the two, but last season Williams passed him by.
John: How do you figure?
Maurice: Where do you work at again? With the exception of Phoenix’s Steve Nash and New Jersey’s Jason Kidd, Williams was the best point guard in the league last season. He averaged 16.2 points, 9.3 assists and 3.3 boards a game and he led the Jazz to the Northwest Division title.
John: Williams' postseason performance and Paul's injury woes have wrongly convinced people that Deron had a better season, but if you look beyond the most basic statistics you would see that Paul was more productive. The Jazz would be better off with Paul at the helm and any Gm would be crazy not to take CP3 over his Utah rival.
John: And by the way, if you want to simply compare basic stats, Paul's numbers were great. He put up 17.2 points, 8.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds. Across the board, he had better stats.
Maurice: Last time I checked, 9.3 was greater than 8.9. I thought you graduated from Princeton? Check out what some fans e-mailed me:

Craig in Utah: I enjoy the column but I have one big complaint. There is no way that Chris Paul deserves to be ranked ahead of Deron Williams. Williams does it all for the Jazz. He is like having a second coach on the floor.

Donnie in Salt Lake City: Not only should Deron not be behind Paul, he also shouldn’t be behind Boozer. Ask any Jazz fan and they will tell you that Deron is the most important player on the team. Other than that, keep doing what you do.

John: They are both from Utah so of course they are going to say Williams is the best.
Maurice: The Jazz won 12 more games than the Hornets last season. And Williams and Carlos Boozer might be the best tag team in the league. You can argue that Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson in Denver or Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady in Houston are better but that’s about it.
John: Which is exactly my point. Williams has a better team, meaning Paul is doing more with less.
Maurice: Deron had a higher field-goal percentage (45.6 to 43.7). Paul had a higher free-throw percentage (81.8 to 76.7) and he took care of the ball better (2.52 turnovers to 3.08).
Maurice: Paul is better in the open floor because of his athleticism and despite being smaller, rebounds better. Deron is a better shooter and defender and the perfect fit for Utah’s style of play.
John: Did you see the numbers Paul put up the other night against the Lakers? He had 19 points and a franchise-record 21 assists … That’s sick.
Maurice: And one day later, Deron upstaged him by going coast-to-coast for the winning layup with a second left to offset LeBron’s Cavs.
John: Fine, we agree. They are both pretty good.
Maurice: Yeah, I would love to have either one of them on my Sixers.
Maurice: By the way, what is your beef with my rankings? This season, Paul, who is averaging 18.6 points, 12.4 assists and 5.4 rebounds for the surprisingly good Hornets (4-1) is ranked sixth, while Williams, who is averaging 22.6, 9.8 and 3.0 for the first-place Jazz (3-2) occupies the 10th spot.
John: Hmmm… I guess I shouldn’t have complained to begin with.
Maurice: Nope.

  • Let me respond to some of your e-mails. And if you read this, you know I don't have a bunch of free time. Therefore, for one week, you get two-word responses.

    Ardi in Toronto: Maurice, you're trying to tell me that the Raptors have no chance of winning the Atlantic Division? Let's make a bet. When Toronto wins it, you have to write an entire column about it. Peace.

    Brooks: OK, deal.

    Colon in Phoenix: Hey, it's great to have you back! My input is that you should seriously consider Shawn Marion as one of the top Defensive Player of the Year candidates.

    Brooks: Wrong column.

    Jerome in Oregon: What up with all the haters? You don't write for the league for nothing.

    Brooks: I'm salaried.

    Will in Denver: I generally enjoy your writing, but I am troubled with this quote from your latest column: "The Diesel hasn't been a legit MVP candidate since Steve Nash stole his trophy in 2005." I personally agree that Shaq deserved the award, but to insinuate that Nash 'stole' the MVP from him is inappropriate. Nash is widely known as being a great player off the court (in terms of community service) so why tarnish his reputation with your choice of diction? I understand that you are utilizing figurative language, but nonetheless, Nash himself has never campaigned for himself to win the award. He let the voters choose for themselves. Nash didn't 'steal' anything, he simply played his best. To blame him for doing so is ludicrous and extremely unprofessional.

    Brooks: I'm speechless.

    Anthony in Maine: With the Patriots being unstoppable, the Red Sox winning the World Series and the Celtics having Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Massachusetts is the place to be. How far do you think the Celtics will go this season?

    Brooks: NBA Finals.

    Jesse in Arizona: I'm sorry, but I think your rankings are horrible. Just because you are on everyone reads your rankings and thinks this guy really knows what he is talking about. Your articles influence the way people vote for MVP.

    Brooks: Doubt it.

    Izzy in Brazil: I really appreciate you for being open minded about fan responses and for pointing out your errors. There are few experts that do that especially on a site as popular as You are a true professional.

    Brooks: I try.

    John in Texas: You said you would put Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain on your all-time starting five. I would rather have Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Shaquille O'Neal.

    Brooks: You lose.

    Sawyersauce in Australia: Howdy Maurice. I loved your work last season, but this season I think picking Kevin Garnett No. 1 this early is way too ambitious. The Celtics are an unknown. They made some great offseason moves, but rather than speculate you should go with players on teams who you KNOW will perform well.

    Brooks: Ask Denver.

    John in Philadelphia: Wow you are back again? Tim Duncan is the best player in the NBA and should be the MVP every year. You are so stupid. Give me your job because you don't know jack.

    Brooks: Jack who?

    Manuel in Florida: What about Joe Johnson and Josh Smith? The Hawks are doing well and must have at least one MVP candidate.

    Brooks: Next week.

    Ashley in Australia: What about the Clippers Chris Kaman? He's not going to win MVP, but he has been good and deserves a mention in the On the Outside Looking In section.

    Brooks: Duly noted.

    Gerald in Los Angeles: I know Michael Jordan won six titles, but Kobe Bryant has three and he's not done playing yet. In your opinion, who is better?

    Brooks: Michael Jordan.

    Victor in New York: Last season I read R2MVP each week and although I sometimes disagreed with you, it turns out you were right because Dirk Nowitzki was named MVP. After one week, you have T-Mac first. I disagree again. It should be Garnett, although I'm sure the person in the top spot will change this season about as often as Sean Combs (P-Diddy, Diddy, Puffy, Puff Daddy) changes names.

    Brooks: That's funny.

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