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The improved play of Marvin Williams could be key the rest of the season

Williams is starting to play like he did last season, but it could be too late to make a difference.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Charlotte Hornets played the New Orleans Pelicans. Unfortunately, the Hornets could not find their sting in overtime, coming up short by three points in the end. However, one bright spot was Marvin Williams, who was 12-20 from the field, totaling 27 points total, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. While he’s played better recently, its important to ask whether its come too late.

Since the All-Star break, Williams has been on fire, averaging 14.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, shooting 53.2 percent from the field. These are well above his season averages of 11.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. In terms of production, that increase is similar to that of adding another player to the roster.

Williams is playing some of the best basketball of late, and the Hornets need to use him. He can not only good in the paint, but beyond the arc as well. He may be an nontraditional power forward, but he creates match-up problems, which makes him valuable.

So what’s changed? He’s finally hitting shots. He has been amazing in the paint, sinking over 65 percent inside the three-point line since the All-Star break. Beyond the arc, Williams has been good as well, hitting 38 percent of his shots — a mark closer to his percentage last season.

Williams is starting to helping the Hornets again, but unless his teammates also step up, Charlotte’s playoff run will fall short. While the Hornets have been no push-over lately, they haven’t been what the average NBA fan would call a ‘good team’, going 5-5 in their last ten games.

The Hornets’ next four games will be crucial, starting at home to Chicago, then at Indiana, Washington, and Atlanta. Three of those teams are in the playoff picture right now, and all four are ahead of the Hornets. There are sixteen games left, and if the Hornets really want to make the playoffs, they will have to win at least ten of those sixteen, if not more to even have hope.

How did they even end up in this situation? Among other things, they relied too much on one or two players — Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum. To make the playoffs, other players will have to step up.

This makes Marvin Williams’ recent stretch important. Instead of only relying on two players (Walker and Batum), Williams has been able to step up, but they need more from players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller as well. If the bench starts to play better, they have a shot at the playoffs, but as it stands right now, it is going to take a whole lot more than will-power.

If the Hornets want to be successful, and make the playoffs this season, they will need Williams to continue playing well in order to take pressure off of Walker and Batum. Otherwise, they will find themselves outside the playoffs come April.