Marvin Williams: Don’t Call Him A Bust

Don’t look now, but Marvin Williams is playing in his eleventh NBA season. At his peak with the Hawks, the forward averaged a solid 14.8 points to go with 5.7 rebounds. What’s more, his improved production as a starter has 42-31 Charlotte in postseason contention for just the second time in six seasons. So why are there still whispers about Williams not living up to his potential? The short answer: because expectations are always going to be lofty for a high draft pick.

Williams may not be the MVP of the Hornets in 2015-16, but he’s a steady and consistent force. The veteran has proven just how much work he put in during the offseason especially on his range. He had an underwhelming first season in Charlotte when he averaged just 7.4 points and started fewer than half his games. So far this year, Williams has started 71 and made 131 three-pointers which is already a career-high. He’s also more accurate from the perimeter than ever before. Williams is even pulling down rebounds at a better rate of 6.6 per game.

Marvin Gaye Williams was born in Bremerton, Washington to mother Andrea Gittens and father Marvin Williams, Sr. Williams grew up with two brothers: Demetrius and J’Tonn. He also has a stepbrother. Williams attended Bremerton High and was coached by Casey Lindberg, becoming the nation’s second ranked power forward. Williams was recruited by the University of North Carolina, helping the Tar Heels win the 2005 national championship during his only season in Chapel Hill. He also took home ACC Rookie of the Year honors. Although Williams declared for the NBA Draft afterward, he eventually earned his degree in African American Studies in 2014. He has also worked with Special Olympics and visited Senegal in 2010 to support the league’s Basketball Without Borders initiative. In his spare time, he enjoys playing table tennis and watching movies.

After the Bucks selected Andrew Bogut with the first overall pick, the Hawks took Williams second. Williams had enjoyed a solid year on a superb North Carolina team. Moreover, his high school statistics as a senior were so good they sounded fictitious: 28.7 points, 15.5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 blocks per game. The Hawks only won 26 games in 2005-06, but Williams did make the All-NBA Rookie second team under coach Mike Woodson. After 30 wins the next season, Atlanta ended a long playoff drought in 2007-08 and Williams had his best statistical playoffs by averaging 11.4 points. Williams also scored a career-high 33 in a game at Seattle on January 25, 2008.

During those 2008 playoffs, Williams was involved in a controversial play when he knocked Boston’s Rajon Rondo to the floor during an ugly loss. He would serve a one-game suspension the following season. Williams was also suspended two games in 2011 for throwing punches with Shawne Williams of the Knicks. Marvin was a factor when the Hawks beat Miami during the 2009 postseason, but they’d be swept by Cleveland in the second round.

The Hawks wouldn’t miss the postseason for the rest of Williams’ tenure, but they never reached the Conference Finals even after Larry Drew became coach in 2010. Williams did have one of his finest playoff games on April 28, 2010 when he scored 22 against Milwaukee in a series Atlanta won in seven games.

Utah acquired Williams for point guard Devin Harris on July 11, 2012. Williams was playing pickup basketball in Chapel Hill at the time the deal was announced. In 2012-13 the Jazz would pile up 43 wins but still miss the playoffs, and the team fared much worse the following year. Williams became a free agent and chose to play two hours south of his alma mater in Charlotte.

At his press conference, Williams said: “North Carolina has always been like a second home to me.”

The Hornets finished five games behind eighth-seeded Brooklyn and Williams had a down year, even at the free-throw line. He shot 71% which is respectable for many big men, but not compared to his career mark of over 80%. After the season, Williams asked management what he could improve and was told that outside shooting would be key. The result has certainly been beneficial for the Hornets. It doesn’t hurt that Williams will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He is likely to get his last big contract, just as the salary cap rises considerably.

There’s a chance that Williams will be able to stay put next season, but right now nothing is certain. Although he has a degree of comfort in Charlotte, Williams is single and doesn’t have to worry about uprooting a family if another team makes a substantial offer. It’s worth noting that teammates Nicolas Batum, Al Jefferson, and Courtney Lee are also pending free agents. Williams never became a superstar, but he has enjoyed a fine career and shown the determination to improve himself. There are plenty of high picks who would love to have scored over 8,000 career points and still be playing a key role on a contender over a decade into their careers.

 

photo via llananba