In a perfect world, Marvin Williams comes off the bench to provide the Charlotte Hornets with above average 3-point shooting and solid defense.
The world is far from perfect, however.
The reality is that Marvin Williams remains the Hornets starting power forward more off of circumstance than off talent. Don’t get me wrong, Marv is a talented player, but he’s at a point in his career where he could be most effective as a team’s 7th man.
The Hornets, of course, do not have a better option. The team’s current back-up four man is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who, after Monday’s game against the Bulls, has a total of four preseason games played at power forward in his six years in the league. Frank Kaminsky, the previous back-up four man, has slid over to both the five spot and the end of the bench if we are to read into the current rotation. No other player is truly challenging Williams at this point, and it’s kind of been that way since he arrived.
If there’s one challenge Williams has received, though, it’s from the coaching staff. Williams has long been a opportunistic shooter. He rarely forces shots, and instead opts for the open ones that come after the ball is rotated and the defense is off balance. It explains why he hasn’t averaged more than 10 shot attempts per game since his fourth season in the league, and partly why he’s only averaged more than four 3-point shots a game twice in his career (the other part being that he wasn’t a good 3-point shooter until his sixth season).
Williams has been content as an above average passive shooter, but James Borrego wants to put an end to that, at least when it comes to perimeter shooting. To be an effective starting power forward, according to JB, Williams must shoot more 3-point shots. Does this mean Marvin will suddenly morph into a gun-slinger? Not quite. But Borrego wants his team to shoot more 3’s, and that means calling upon the team’s best shooters to lead the way.
So far in preseason, we’ve seen a slight up-tick. In three games, Williams has attempted five 3-pointers twice, and six most recently against the Bulls. The makes have been more of a mixed bag. He shot just 1-for-5 against the Celtics in Chapel Hill (from my vantage point in the Dean Dome, he took a few too many ill-advised shots), but followed that with a 4-for-5 performance against the Heat. Monday’s game, meanwhile, saw him convert 2-for-6. Overall, not great, but he’s scored in double figures in each of the last few games. If anything, averaging 10 to 11 points per game should be well within the realm of possibility for him this season. To be quite honest, we should expect at least that from one of the team’s best shooters and highest paid players.
It’s important to point out that with the increased shooting will come the likely decrease in shooting percentage. He’s coming off the best 3-point shooting season of his career at 41.3 percent, but that was attempting nearly one less 3 a game. It makes perfect sense for his percentage to drop a bit if he’s attempt one or two more a game, and I’d say there’s little to worry about if it even drops between 37 and 38 percent.
The important thing is that Williams continues to be a perimeter threat and solid team defender. Age is against him, but he’s showing little signs of aging. Aside from the occasional drive and dunk, his game isn’t predicated off athleticism. It should be another solid season for Williams, but what could really make it stand out is how much it contributes to wins.