The trade for Mo Williams was far better than I regarded it at the time.
Williams came in and was able to sustain a hot shooting streak for long enough to replace the then-injured Kemba Walker. His skill to always be able to create a shot for himself or to drive in order to find a team-mate (and finish the drive with a field goal attempt of his own only in the most extreme of situations as evidenced by his career-low rate of shots at the rim) was a breath of fresh air that this offense needed.
Mo can find himself a makeable look in the transition game whenever he feels like it and it has manifested itself in the Hornets playing at the second fastest pace whenever Williams hits the floor (the trigger-happy Hairston artificially creates the fastest pace). These shots generate much-needed points for our offense.
His ten-game groove with the starting line-up of Hendo/MKG/Zeller/Al resulted in an offensive rating of 106.7, which would rank at an unnaturally high sixth place in the league for our pathetic offense. It comes to show what kind of an impact a great shooter can have on a team that otherwise suffers from spacing problems.
What you have to mention though is that his sub-par defense had that particular starting line-up giving up 104.1 points per 100 possessions. Williams isn’t capable of facing starting point guards every other night and keeping them away from the middle. Just quickly setting up in front of the screen to “ice” the pick-n-roll is a task that sometimes gives him trouble due to his size.
His quick trigger gave coach Clifford an opportunity to run some creative plays like this one where Williams goes through three screens to get to a corner three.
In time, when opposing assistant coaches had scouted the play (and, oh, it did noticeably happen with the defender who’s guarding the last screener stretching out his arm to prevent the pass to Williams in the corner), it could turn into all kinds of different action. Williams, sensing that his man is anticipating the play, could hit the brakes and fool him by turning back. It could also turn into a pick-n-roll (in the ideal scenario, however, it should come instantly with Williams runnin in a curling motion to the middle, unlike the way it unfolds in the following example).
Any athleticism that Williams still might possess isn’t anything that he relies on. The scoring punch he offers is much needed here in Charlotte and I’d be glad to sign him to a new contract.
Keeping him on the roster, however, is likely to create a situation where him and Kemba Walker clock a few hundred minutes together on the court. This season line-ups with Walker and Williams sharing the back-court miraculously managed to survive by only giving up 97.8 points per 100 possessions (a mark that would be the best in the league) in 223 minutes.
The extra-small three of Walker, Williams and Gerald Henderson produced an ever better return as they defended well enough for a defensive rating of 95.3 (while scoring 103.9 points per 100 possessions) in a sample size of 94 minutes.
It is a questionable long-term solution though. The two would likely have to see less minutes together if we reached a post-season series due to the potential of opponents exploiting our size. Both can be man-handled by certain point guards and having one of them one a 2-guard would be even more dangerous, even if Walker performed at the peak of his peskiness.
On defense, Mo is a smart veteran who’ll show his disdain for the shooting prowess of the Ramon Sessions’s and Ish Smith’s of the NBA world.
His defensive mindset, however, borders on absolute over-confidence that is reminiscent of an old Kobe’s or Andre Miller’s approach to certain players. Williams will drift too far away from his man from time to time in an attempt to muck things up by himself, outside the constraints of our conservative schemes.
The Will Bynum assignment doesn’t have to be handled with absolute care the whole time he’s on the court but leaving your back to any NBA point guard for an extended period of time will create a situation where the defense has to scramble.
Here’s Williams going out of his way to double the post player, while leaving the dangerous Bojan Bogdanovic an opportunity to set up in the corner for a free look. In this case, an unrelated call bails Mo out.
Sometimes Mo will loaf when approaching the task of a close-out on a three-point shooter. It’s understandable and is to be encouraged when you’re daring Andre Roberson to take the three-point look (similarly to the way he went under screens against Ramon Sessions), however, Hedo Turkoglu does require a bit more attention. His close-outs on better shooters is somewhere between lacking effort and attempting a similar Jedi mind trick.
All in all, he’s a player whose fit on the roster is determined by other factors. Does Henderson stay on the team? Do we sign another two-guard? Perhaps, is it a player who can play both wing positions?
I’m not too hyped about playing Williams and Walker together for long stretches. I moreso would like to rely on it when a scoring boost is needed since Mo does indeed fill a shooting and scoring need that this team has.
He might have performed as a “B+” for certain stints, but I had to factor in him cooling off and being a part of the team only for 27 games.