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Everyone from Kirk Hinrich to John Paxson to Scott Skiles to Ben Wallace has taken heat for the Bulls' disappointing season, but Bill Simmons makes a convincing case that Jayson Williams is as much to blame as anyone. Remember him? He's the great Duke point guard who ended his career on a motorcycle.
"A lightning-quick, physical 6-footer who would have been unstoppable after they changed the hand-check rules in 2004, Williams had his moments as a rookie, including the 26-14-13 he slapped on J-Kidd and the Nets. He would have been a stud. . . . How did Jay's injury change what transpired with Chicago over the next five years? Imagine Utah only getting one season out of Deron Williams and you have some idea."
I think it's reasonable to say he'd have been better than Deron Williams and not as good as Chris Paul--which is awfully good. And the Bulls wouldn't be dependent on a second-tier point guard like Kirk Hinrich, which would be quite helpful given their lack of reliable playmakers.
Simmons also points out that Pax made Kevin McHale a totally reasonable offer for Kevin Garnett back in 2006, and because McHale is a notoriously bad GM, he didn't take it. If he had (and Jayson Williams hadn't wrecked his bike), Paxson would have had an incredible rotation and no need to chase poorly rounded big men like Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, and Ben Wallace, and the electric but inconsistent Ben Gordon wouldn't be the only go-to guy. In the absence of these events, Paxson made some questionable moves, but it's worth remembering he was working from plans C through E.