Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — During this election season, there won't be strategically placed placards or billboards campaigning for Deron Williams to be voted in as Utah Jazz team captain.
You won't have to watch TV ads of Williams boasting about being an All-Star or a gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympian. Don't expect mudslinging about potential longshots. "Say Nyet to A.K. 47!" and "Don't Ring This Bell!" slogans will not emerge from his camp.
Williams won't be making grandiose promises, either.
But Jerry Sloan does endorse this candidate and his message.
Considering the Jazz coach is the only one with a vote in this non-political process, that's a strong indicator Williams will formally be named captain once again.
"He'll probably be considered," a grinning Sloan recently joked.
Of course, Williams' Jazz teammates don't need an election to know who's hoisting the leadership mantle for the team heading into the 2010-11 NBA season.
"It's clear," swingman C.J. Miles said, "who our leader and captain is."
So clear, in fact, the sixth-year pro didn't even mention Williams' name, yet it was still obvious that he was talking about his Dallas pal.
Williams is the one who's setting the tone for this symphony of NBA talent.
"That's his job," Miles added.
Even a 20-year-old rookie picked up on that crystal-clear fact.
"I think D-Will, in my eyes, would be the leader," rookie Gordon Hayward said early on in fall camp. "You need someone that's going to push everyone and make sure everyone's going hard, kind of hold people accountable. He definitely does that and makes sure everyone's doing their job."
Williams has shared these responsibilities for the past couple of years with former co-captain Carlos Boozer, and he embraces the role that has evolved into him becoming the go-to guy when it comes to leadership.
Not that he plans on doing anything differently.
"I'm going to do the same thing I did when he was here: play hard every night, keep the team together, be an extension of coach on the floor," Williams said. "It doesn't really change."
Others on this Jazz team will help carry weight, but most of the burden of helping a mixture of new and old jell well rests on the shoulders of the guy sporting the No. 8 jersey.
Williams knows, even relishes, that fact of Jazz locker room life.
"It's definitely my job to keep this team together, keep 'em focused every night, night in and night out," Williams said. "I think I need to do a better job of that."
That, Williams pointed out, will help the Jazz beat teams they're supposed to beat. On the opposite end of the letdown spectrum, it also will help them realize their potential against the NBA's upper-echelon. They are one of the best teams, he said, so they should believe that they can beat the rest of the best.
Accomplishing consistent, positive results against everybody from Minnesota to Miami will take a team effort, Williams acknowledges. But the success or possible setbacks start with him.
That's why Williams got on the phone with Al Jefferson shortly after the Jazz traded for the center and told the new big man in town that he was going to help make him an All-Star.
That's why Williams asked Raja Bell, a well-traveled defensive wizard, to take Miles under his wing at the beginning of fall camp and help him fortify his defense.
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