Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Season-Long Theme: Marvin Williams' Role

Previously: Rebounding, Josh Smith's Shot Selection, Three-Point Shooting, Jeff Teague's Playing Time, Backcourt Defense

Commenter Toq12 asked that I look at "the productivity of the Hawks offense when Crawford is playing in place of Marvin Williams." Anyway interested just in the answer that question is invited to skip ahead to the bolded text. The rest is (fair warning) context, tangential curiosity, and the avoidance of conclusions. Before the season, I suspected that Jamal Crawford might marginalize Maurice Evans. That hasn't been the case through seven games but Crawford's (generally) strong play has appeared to limit Marvin Williams' minutes.

Last season, Williams, despite missing 21 games and making cameos off the bench in the final two regular season games, played 53% of Atlanta's total minutes. Through seven games this season, Williams, in good health, has played 59.8% of Atlanta's total minutes. On a per game basis, Williams is playing 5.6 fewer minutes than last season and, whereas Flip Murray played 24.7 minutes per game last season, Crawford averages 29.9 minutes per game this season.

So, what has the impact of using Crawford in a three-guard lineup at the expense of Williams been so far in this young season?

Sub-question, how has Williams played (and the team done with him) as an undersized power forward?

First, the simple on/off efficiency numbers for both players...

NameOff PossTeam PtsOff EffDef PossOpp PtsDef Eff
Crawford (On)4244911.1584224591.088
Crawford (Off)2422571.0622412561.062
Williams (On)3884021.0363894081.049
Williams (Off)2783261.1732743071.120

The Hawks' offense has been much better (9.6 pts/100 possessions) and the defense slightly worse (2.6 pts/100 possessions) with Crawford on the floor. Conversely, the Hawks' defense has been much better (7.1 pts/100 possessions) with Williams on the floor. The offense, however, when Williams is on the floor, has been much, much worse (13.7 pts/100 possessions) than when he is on the bench.

Of course, Crawford and Williams share the floor some of the time (162 offensive, 164 defensive possessions).

NameOff PossTeam PtsOff EffDef PossOpp PtsDef Eff
Crawford & Williams1621841.1361641701.037
Crawford w/o Williams2623071.1722582891.120
Williams w/o Crawford2362381.0532252381.058

Almost all of Williams on-court possessions (191 offensive, 190 defensive) without Crawford on the court occur as part of the starting lineup which has been outscored 198-192 so far this season.

As for the original question, specifically about the offense's efficiency when Crawford is replacing Marvin Williams in the lineup, let's look at Crawford on the court without either Williams or Maurice Evans on the court.

Three-guard lineups without Marvin Williams on the floor...

TimeOff PossTeam PtsOff EffDef PossOpp PtsDef Eff
Through 11/10/091031351.3111071020.953

That rather tidy point differential is fueled by the aforementioned Bibby/Crawford/Johnson/Josh Smith/Horford lineup that has scored 99 points in 70 offensive possessions. The Hawks' offense has spectacularly, unsustainably better when Jamal Crawford has replaced Marvin Williams in the lineup. The defense has also been better.

Finally, Marvin Williams by position...

PositionOff PossTeam PtsOff EffDef PossOpp PtsDef Eff
Small Forward3043171.0433093341.081
Power Forward84851.01280740.925

A further breakdown of the team's defensive efficiency with Williams at small forward...

ContextDef PossOpp PtsDef Eff
w/ starting lineup1901981.042
all other lineups1171361.162

Far and away the two worst players in terms of on-court defensive efficiency are Joe Smith and Zaza Pachulia. The Williams/Joe Smith/Pachulia frontcourt has played just 15 defensive possessions together. The Hawks have allowed 20 points on those possessions. Williams was also on court for most of the disastrous Teague/Johnson two-guard backcourt possessions.

There aren't any real answers seven games into the season, but the right questions are coming into focus.


Unknown said...

i just waiting for the evidence that points to why the Hawks are better with Maurice Evans in the starting lineup and Marvin Williams as a super 6th or 7th man

Bret LaGree said...


Maurice Evans, coming off the bench: usage rate 16.2%

Marvin Williams, starting: usage rate 15.0%

I'm coming around to your way of thinking even though I suspect it would make little practical difference as Marvin would still be a lower offensive priority than any of Joe Johnson, Crawford, and Josh Smith who happen to be on the floor and, at best, co-equal to Bibby and Teague.

There has to be a way to take better advantage of Marvin's ability to get to the free throw line.

thirdfalcon said...

I was already coming around to ATL's idea, and this makes me more bullish. But I would definitely like to see more of the Bibby/Crawford/Johnson/Williams/Horford lineup. it's +6 in 16 minutes so far. It's worth a shot when Josh is in foul trouble if nothing else.

Bronnt said...

I suspect that many of us have also overrated Zaza Pachulia, coming off of what was a career year for him (also, because we just really like him). But it's bothersome that his rebounding impact has dropped so spectacularly thus far. Let's hope it's a minor dip rather than a lingering problem.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the in-depth analysis...the troubling trend here is that it appears Marvin is looking like our 7th best player this year, not sure if he is still feeling effects from his previous back injury, but he has looked slower than usual on offense and is not the agressive defender he proved to be last's hoping to Marvin turning things around, because if he can be more productive, the Hawks are a real match up nightmare for other teams