While it had been known for a few weeks that the Charlotte Hornets were going to sign free agent PF Marvin Williams, both parties finally inked the two-year, $14 million deal last Monday. Williams is another player to add to the long list of offseason acquisitions and comes to Charlotte by way of the Utah Jazz. He will be looking to compete for the PF position that is up in the air. With Cody Zeller entering his second season and newly drafted Noah Vonleh entering the mix, the PF position for the Hornets looks quite crowded. Williams, however, brings a unique set of skills that make him
similar to Liam Neeson the front runner going into the preseason in this three-horse-race to play alongside Al Jefferson in the Hornets frontcourt.
The 28-year-old Williams will be entering his tenth NBA season when he takes the court wearing the purple and teal this fall. (Just writing purple and teal makes me so happy. RIP Bobcats) He has been a consistent starter over his career and has also seen time as a valuable 6th man. Playing for two different franchises in both the Eastern and Western Conferences (Atlanta and Utah) has provided Williams with a great outlook and mindset that will hopefully transfer to this young Hornets team.
During his stint in Atlanta, Williams appeared in 42 playoff games. This will be a tremendous boost to a Hornets franchise that has only appeared in 8 playoff games since the Bobcats came to town in 2004. Being able to handle the playoff pressure will be a key factor in what looks like another tight Eastern Conference playoff race.
Williams came into the league as a player looking for a position. Was he a large slash-and-drive SF or a small, stretch PF? That question continued to linger and cloud NBA fans’ judgment of the former North Carolina Tar Heel for his first three seasons. Between his third and fourth seasons, however, Williams developed a 3-point jumper and saw his 3-point average raise to a respectable 35.5%. He has not fallen below the 30% mark since then, solidifying his role as a “stretch 4”. That is good news for Hornets fans who might be worried about replacing Josh McRobers ability to shoot the rock from deep.
The Hornets play an inside-out offensive style featured around Jefferson and need shooters to create spacing around the wings. Williams, who played with Jefferson in Utah in 2012-2013, should be able to fill that void and solidify the offense. He has averaged 10.8 PPG and 5.1 RPG during his career, both of which are higher than departing PF Josh McRoberts. McRoberts may be a slightly better passer, but Williams is much more athletic and a better free throw shooter.
As mentioned above, Williams played his only season of college basketball at the University of North Carolina. The one-and-done career of Williams was not wasted, though, as he was a key contributor and 6th man for a Tar Heels team that won the national championship that season. The locals in Charlotte and the surrounding “Triangle” area around Chapel Hill surely remember Williams’ contributions and should come up to support the former North Carolina star.
Vonleh and Zeller may end up taking over the starting PF role as the season progresses, but Williams should definitely be the starter in Week 1. He brings a much needed veteran presence and an offensive game that compliments the Hornets’ style very well.