Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Off the Dribble: Mahoney: For the Hawks, It's a Marvin Williams Moment

Rob Mahoney brings Marvin Williams' excellent start to the season to the readers of
Break Williams’ production down per minute, and the improvements really start to take shape. His scoring is up to 17.2 points per 36 minutes from 13.0 last season, largely because Williams has begun to turn one of his weaknesses – spotting up for jumpers on the perimeter – into a potential strength. Williams still takes his fair share of jumpers when the ball swings to him on the outside (he’s made nearly half of his 3-pointers this season, a shooting mark that will surely regress), but he’s also looked to put the ball on the floor against a defense scrambling to challenge his shot. Thus far, Williams has used these driving lanes to great benefit, as he’s nearly tripled the rate at which he draws fouls in spot-up situations, per Synergy Sports Technology.

Williams is getting to the free-throw line a career-high 6.6 times – and turning the ball over a career-low 0.5 times – per 36 minutes. We’re months away from knowing if those numbers have any real staying power, but there’s no question that Williams has been exceptionally efficient in limited minutes early this season.

Yet the most pronounced change in Williams’ game has come on the glass, where his career mark of 6.2 rebounds per 36 minutes – a statistical anchor from which he’s barely strayed in his season-to-season performance – has been dwarfed by the 8.9 rebounds per 36 that Williams has collected in his first six games of the year. That’s a profound difference, especially considering that the Hawks play at one of the league’s slowest paces. If we refine the data even further and evaluate Williams’ rebounding on a per-possession level that removes pace as a factor, he rises to the top as one of the elite rebounders at his position.

Again: this may all be a very quaint exercise in Small Sample Size Theater. But Williams’ work on the glass has been the result of genuine effort and an emphasis on box-out position, two rebounding components with the potential to help Williams sustain his success throughout the season. That doesn’t mean he will, per se – effort can fluctuate just as easily as any other area of performance – but the logical foundation for continued production is certainly there.
Read the whole thing. It's worth one of your 20 articles a month.

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