Wednesday, May 26, 2010

2009-10 Season Review: Marvin Williams

When Marvin Williams signed a 5-year, $37.5 million contract last summer it's doubtful that either side of that negotiation expected both his offensive role* and production to regress following a promising 2008-09 season but regress they did.

Usage rate? Down 15% and not just down, but lower than Mike Bibby's usage rate and roughly identical to those of Zaza Pachulia and Maurice Evans.

Scoring rate? Down 17%.

3PTFG%? Down 14.6%

eFG%? Down 3.4%.

FT Rate? Down 25.1%. TS%? Down 5.1%. These despite his FT% increasing from 80.6% to 81.9%.

Offensive rebound rate? Down 19.3%.

Defensive rebound rate? Down 2.6%.

His assist and turnover rates remained steady but neither have been central to his offensive value (or lack thereof).

*Largely explained by Jamal Crawford playing 485 more minutes in 2009-10 than Flip Murray did in 2008-09 while posting an even higher usage rate.

Worse, Williams looked bad offensively. Whereas his spacing had, in past seasons, been consistently sound and appeared effortless, he struggled to find the appropriate space to spot up for jump shots, finding himself unbalanced and/or unprepared when receiving a pass, and too often taking a jumper with one or both feet on the three-point line. It was likely not a coincidence that Williams appeared to lose confidence in his jump shot even as jumpers consisted of a greater percentage of his field goal attempts than in the previous season. He shot the ball poorly but did himself no favors by passing up open jump shots to drive hesitatingly into traffic, resulting in more missed shots and fewer trips to the free throw line.

Williams%FGA (16+')eFG% (16+')%FGA (rim-10')eFG% (rim-10')

Josh Smith wasn't the only young Hawk forward to settle for the long two-point jump shot too often. Given the lack of success Williams and Smith had from that range, it's remarkable the team's offense was as efficient as it was.

Williams%FGA (16-23')eFG% (16-23')%FGA (3PT)eFG% (3PT)

Despite the disappointing offensive season, Williams is far from a hopeless case. The bulk of the evidence suggests that he can shoot, especially when he has his feet set. He can finish at the rim. He's adept both at getting to the free throw line and making his free throws. In limited opportunities, he's shown some promise when he receives the ball in the mid- or high-post. He rarely turns the ball over. Too often though, these offensive abilities remain latent and with each passing season the concern that Williams is not capable of claiming a larger role in the offense becomes more serious, even more so given the level of investment in him now that he's no longer on his rookie contract.

It may or may not be encouraging with regard to his offensive woes, but Williams does play a significant defensive role for the Hawks, being the only* player capable of guarding opposing small forwards.

NameDef EffPoss
Williams at 31.0194113
Anyone else at 31.1343319

*Joe Johnson could plausibly guard opposing small forwards were he not so busy being asked to guard players he can't possibly stay in front of, but he didn't.

Now, 16.3% of those "anyone else at 3" possessions occur with Williams still on the floor. Comparing the team's defense with Williams at the 3 against him at other positions:

WilliamsDef EffPoss
at 31.0194113
all other1.098543

Most of those "other" possessions have Williams playing the 4 so we're seeing both the difference between Williams and others guarding the 3 and the impact of not having both Josh Smith and Al Horford on the court which, over the course of the season, was worth 3.2 points per 100 possessions.

Marvin Williams figures to have the most to gain from the hiring of a new head coach. Any of 1) a larger role in the offense, 2) a better defined role in the offense, 3) a commitment to pushing the ball up the court, or 4) simply getting more minutes in recognition of his defensive value could reasonably be expected to lead to an improvement in his offensive production. How much ("if" for the more skeptical amongst us) his offensive production improves is ultimately up to him and will likely determine whether his future lies in Atlanta or elsewhere. If he cannot increase his offensive production to match that which he provides defensively, his contract, barring a sudden increase in league-wide revenue or a willingness from ownership to pay the luxury tax, figures to necessitate a trade.


CoCo said...

I definitely feel like this is a make or break year for Marv, especially if Joe leaves. We'll be fresh out of excuses for his inconsistent play.

weemsildinho said...

I agree, it is put up or shut up time for Marvin next year. He was a pretty solid player for us in 08-09, and if he could at least return to that level of production on offense in addition to solid defense, his contract would actually be a pretty good value