Marvin Williams will start at power forward for the Hornets this season, Hornets head coach Steve Clifford said at media day today. There was some debate about whether Williams or second-year big man Cody Zeller would start at the four this season, with most national media outlets suggesting Zeller would start while local media outlets were leaning toward Williams. Now we know for sure.
According to 82games.com, Marvin Williams played 63 percent of the Utah Jazz's power forward minutes last season, and sported a Player Efficiency Rating of 14.3 at the four while his opponents averaged a PER of 18.8 against him. In contrast, Zeller played at the power forward spot in 47 percent of the team's minutes at the position, with a PER of 14.1. Interestingly, his opponents posted an average PER of 14.7.
The decision to start Williams comes down to two factors. One, Williams' experience greatly overshadows Zeller's high motor. There's no doubt that Zeller would allow the team to play at a faster pace, but his inconsistency on the offensive end and lack of understanding of NBA systems hinders his ability to be productive. Williams is a vet and a leader. Two, Williams gives the Hornets' starting lineup a much needed shooter, which is hugely important to the team's Jefferson-centric offense. Clifford is from the Stan Van Gundy coaching tree, and the systems he's put in place in Charlotte echo those of the Howard-led Magic teams of the late 2000s. Williams lets the Hornets space the floor and punish opponents for doubling Al Jefferson in the post.
Zeller may blossom into a starting caliber power forward later in the season, but it sounds like Clifford is intent on having him come off the bench for the foreseeable future, even saying that Zeller will see some minutes at the center spot as well.