SALT LAKE CITY — Love him or hate him, Deron Williams was an absolute stud for the Utah Jazz during the early half of his pro career.
But before he would become an All-Star talent, there was a young boy in Lincolnshire, Ill. paying close attention to the former Fighting Illini: Jalen Brunson.
As Brunson prepares for the upcoming NBA Draft, the 2018 Consensus National Player of the Year is welcoming comparisons to Williams.
Brunson attended an ultra-competitive pre-draft workout with the Jazz on Monday, which featured four potential first-round picks in Grayson Allen (Duke), Aaron Holiday (UCLA) and Khyri Thomas (Creighton). Utah holds the No. 21 and No. 52 picks in the upcoming draft on June 21.
Afterward, the beefy 6-foot-3 guard called the Williams comparisons “pretty fair.”
“I think so,” Brunson said. “I think Deron’s a great player. He definitely has proved himself in this league and just to be named in the same breath as him and other players it’s a great feeling, but I’ve just got to keep working hard to be the best me I can be.
“I loved watching his game, he’s someone I definitely watch film on and I still watch film on but I’ve just got to be the best me I can be.”
Brunson doesn’t share any close ties to Williams, other than the Illinois connection, but says he has conversed with him in the past. His father, Rick, also played in the NBA for nine seasons.
Utah’s VP of Player Personnel, Walt Perrin, doesn’t see the Brunson-Williams resemblance although both are strong 6-foot-3 floor generals.1 comment on this story
“Not really,” Perrin said. “We see him more in the Fred VanVleet and Andre Miller mold more so than Deron Williams.”
Williams left Illinois after three seasons to become the third overall pick in the 2005 draft. Brunson is also leaving Villanova after three years with two national titles under his belt but is projected to fall in the late first-round, mainly due to his defense and not-so-great athleticism.
“Deron was a pretty good athlete,” Perrin said. “Jalen is not a bad athlete but he’s not an elite athlete for the NBA.”