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It's pronounced DARE-in. That comes straight from the mouth of Jazz point guard Deron Williams, whose first name is butchered on a near-daily basis. "They say 'duh-RON' even when they're announcing my name at other arenas," says Williams. "That's something I can use as motivation."
If Williams, a 6'3" second-year pro out of Illinois, plays with the same brio he showed at the end of last year, he'll be a household name soon enough. The 22-year-old temporarily lost his starting job last December and saw his court time diminish, but he rebounded to make the All-Rookie team and became the first Utah rookie since Andrei Kirilenko to average double figures in points (10.8). A closer look at Williams's numbers--he started the final 28 games and averaged 13.8 points and 6.6 assists in April--suggests even bigger things ahead. He also made a four-day trip last month to Spokane to work out with future Hall of Fame playmaker John Stockton for the second straight off-season. "Learning from the best, that's what I was doing," says Williams. "I was just trying to pick his brain. He's more of an I-can-show-you coach. Then it's up to you to do what he did."
No matter how Williams performs, how far the Jazz goes will also depend on how well the other players hold up. Swingman Matt Harpring (sidelined for 11 games last season) and forwards Kirilenko (13) and Carlos Boozer (49) entered camp ready to go. "If we stay healthy, we are a dangerous team," says Williams. "Anything less than the playoffs will be a disappointment."
Projected Starting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics