Charley Rosen declares, in his charming shoot-from-the-hip fashion, that the only candidates are Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
By the way, think back to that 2005 draft. Everyone, myself included, was crazy about Paul. A few people, like the Jazz, were even crazier about Williams. Now, to be honest, I'd rather have Deron Williams on my team, because he spends the whole game making smart decisions in the team setting, then at the end he makes huge shots. There's a role for a guy like that on a top team.
Rosen has his own reasons for also giving a slight edge to Williams. This is how his article concludes:
So, then, how do the two compare? And who's better?
Paul is quicker, with and without the ball.
Williams is much stronger.
Paul is more of a creator, while Williams is more of a facilitator. That is, Paul mostly has to generate his own assist-opportunities, whereas Williams' are created by the constant ball- and player-movement in Utah's offense. That's why Paul tends to over-handle more than Williams.
Paul had a better handle moving north-to-south. Williams is better dribbling east-to-west (and vice versa) to set up his jumper.
Williams is a better finisher, and a much better shooter with better range and a quicker release. Williams is also more adept at creating his own shots.
Neither is more than an average defender, yet Paul's quicker hands gives him a slight edge here.
If Paul delivers better lob passes, Williams' entry passes are superior.
Both have incredible court vision, and Williams is just a bit more under control.
Paul is the perfect point guard for the Hornets' S/R, free-lance offense.
Williams is the perfect point guard for the Jazz' disciplined offense.
There is one deciding difference, however slight it might be: Paul is probably as good as he's ever going to be. But Williams is still developing his "pure" point-guard skills. And in today's game, where post-up players are routinely doubled, point guards have to be more consistent perimeter shooters than ever before.
Also, Paul's speed is somewhat neutralized by NOK's reluctance to run.
For the moment, then, Williams is a shade better than Paul. But what happens "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" remains a mystery.