Thursday, May 29, 2008
Season Review: Marvin Williams
Marvin Williams can do one thing relatively well: shoot spot-up 18’ jump shots though even that skill deserves a caveat: when he’s stationary and balanced. Early in the season, Williams was almost always stationary and balanced when receiving the ball in a position to shoot. His spacing in the half-court was excellent and he was nearly as valuable to the Hawks’ offense as Joe Johnson. Through December 31st, Marvin averaged 16.7 points per game, shot 50.5 eFG% from the floor, 78.9% from the line, and had a FT Rate of 44.5. Even without much value as a defender, passer, or rebounder, that’s a useful line.
Unfortunately, something changed. He began to try other things offensively, things he wasn’t very good at and he became far more prone to shooting his spot-up jumpers off-balance or while floating to the right or left. Why these things came to pass I do not know. From January 1st through the end of the year, Marvin averaged 13.8 points per game, shot 44.1% from the floor, 84.6% from the line, and had a FT Rate of 32.5.
Williams’ struggles with balance are a key reason (another being his lack of upper-body strength) he’s ineffective when posting up (and he got a mind-boggling number of attempts to demonstrate this last season), attempting to break down a defender off the dribble (To be fair, his awkwardness in these instances does cause officials to call a defender for a foul fairly often.), or finishing in transition. (Marvin had to lead the team in missed dunks caused by awkward take-offs.) Williams gives you a glimpse of what Josh Smith would look like without the freakish athleticism to compensate for a tendency to relax and an inability to anticipate what’s going to happen on the court.
Williams isn’t nearly as bad a jump shooter as Smith but you’d have to make an awful lot of long two-point jump shots to make it a worthwhile primary skill. Williams attempted a jumper on 69% of his field goal attempts and shot 40.8 eFG% on his jumpers. There’s certainly some number of made free throws that should be allocated to the value of each possession that resulted in a Marvin Williams jump shot, but we’re starting from a position of 0.816 points per possession. As is the case with Josh Smith (-3.4%), the Hawks offensive rebound percentage dropped precipitously (-4.4%) when Marvin was on the floor so the vast majority of those misses ended with the ball in the opposition’s hands.
Marvin capped off his disastrous 2008 with a truly miserable performance in the playoff series against Boston. Atlanta averaged 1 point per possession against Boston over the course of the series. During the 199 minutes Marvin played, Atlanta averaged 0.92 points per possession. Atlanta allowed Boston 1.14 points per possession in the series. During the 199 minutes Marvin played Boston scored 1.20 points per possession. Atlanta was outscored by 27.6 points per 100 possessions when Marvin was on the court (Atlanta was outscored by 1.6 points per 100 possessions when Josh Childress was on the court.) despite Marvin’s missing the final 21 minutes of the Game 7 beatdown having, mercifully, been ejected. Mike Woodson sure as hell wasn’t going to stop playing him. It wasn’t until a little more than 4 minutes into the fourth quarter of Game 7 that Childress passed Williams in minutes played for the series.
The Hawks essentially control Marvin Williams for two more seasons. Either he’ll develop into a valuable NBA player (One cannot question his effort. Watching Williams awkwardly get himself into an untenable position on the court leaves me feeling far more sad than maddened.) or the Hawks will have to let him go for little or no compensation. I cannot imagine Marvin Williams, at his current level of play, having any significant trade value. A poor first half of the 2008-09 season may see him leave as his salary is used as a make weight in the inevitable trade of Mike Bibby’s expiring contract.
Up Next: Mike Bibby