Marvin Williams is the least essential Hawks starter. He scores points and takes rebounds but seems to leave no imprint on games, and one of the reasons Joe Johnson gets the ball with three seconds on the shot clock — or, worse, Josh Smith gets it 25 feet from the hoop — is that Marvin, four years a pro, still won’t assert himself.Now, Mr. Bradley has access to the team and the players that I do not share so I acknowledge the possibility that he knows things I do not about the internal workings of the team. Marvin Williams may well ask Mike Woodson not to run any plays for him if Joe Johnson is healthy*.
I want to see Marvin not assert himself elsewhere next season. I want the Hawks to re-sign him — he’s a restricted free agent — and ship him and Acie Law to Washington for Caron Butler and Javaris Crittenton. The Wizards are looking to cut salary, so that part would work for them, and they’re also looking to get younger. Williams turns 23 on Friday; Butler is 29.
Butler is a small forward with deep range and — key point — a ton of self-assurance. He wants the ball when the clock’s ticking low. He averaged 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists last season to Marvin’s 13.9, 6.3 and 1.3.
*Completing this thought, Marvin was clearly comfortable asserting himself in Johnson's absence on two occasions last season to beneficial effect for the club.
Thus, the difference between Butler and Williams is largely one of opportunity. Their career efficiency stats:
Outside of Butler's far superior assist rate, there's little differentiating these two per opportunity. Considering the possibility that, at 22, Marvin Williams 2008-09 three-point shooting (35.5% in 155 attempts) represents a new level of true talent where Butler, who has made less than 32% of his threes in five of seven NBA seasons (including two of his four in Washington) through the age of 28, is unlikely to improve to a similar degree in that respect and that Williams' FT Rate is significantly better than Butler's (34.6 v. 27.7) despite Butler's excellent free throw percentage (85.2% for his career) it's fair, I contend, to assume that Williams is more likely to score efficiently going forward even before accounting the circumstances* in which they compiled their numbers to date.
*Butler as a key component of Eddie Jordan's motion offense; Williams as an afterthought in Mike Woodson's motionless offense.
The difference between the two is opportunity. Again, career stats for both:
Personally, I'd prefer the younger guy who gets to the free throw line more often, is a better rebounder, and has greater range better to complement the two young frontcourt players (Al Horford and Josh Smith*) who need more touches in the post. Which isn't to say that it's vital the Hawks keep Marvin Williams just that he still possesses enough potential that exchanging him for a slight upgrade at the small forward position (which is likely the easiest position at which to find a relatively cheap complementary player) rather than acquiring a young point guard or a big man who can defend and rebound is unlikely to make enough difference in the short term to outweigh the risk that Marvin Williams' value (both on-court and trade value) may be on the cusp of increasing.
*Bradley, yesterday afternoon: "If the Hawks trade Josh, they lose me. (Unless it’s for Kobe.)" I think he's on board with my premise in that regard.