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Deron Williams and Chris Paul on similar missions: make their team No. 1

Bruce Bennett

After playing in Salt Lake City and New Orleans, Deron Williams and Chris Paul found themselves in big markets in 2011. Well, sort of big. Williams was traded to the Nets in February 2011, knowing that the Nets still had a little more than a season in Newark ... then uncertainty in Brooklyn. Paul's journey was a little different. After David Stern scotched a plan to send him to the Lakers in December, the Clippers made the right offer and brought Paul to Staples Center, just a different locker room.

For both, though, the mission is the same. Take their team, traditionally the second team in a big market, and make it No. 1. Paul has a bit of a head start, taking the Clips to the playoffs last season. D-Will now has a playoff-quality team and a new arena, uniforms, logo, etc., etc. He's optimistic that just as Paul made the Clippers relevant in Laker land, he can make the Nets more than a bit player in an off-Broadway show.

"There are definitely some similarities, I think," Williams tells Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times. "Two franchises that have been, for the most part, struggling. There have been some good years — some bright spots — but for the most part struggled. And now, have taken on new identities. It's been fun being a part of this rebuilding process, this growth. I'm definitely excited about the opportunity."