Will Marvin Williams be a better player for the Utah Jazz than he was for the Atlanta Hawks? The Utah Jazz certainly hope this to be true. A case can be made that Williams needed a move out of Atlanta.
However, before I do the analysis let me say I fundamentally believe a player is a player regardless of teammates and teams system. Al Jefferson has been remarkably close to the same player he was in Minnesota despite different system and different teammates. This is usually how it works.
In the case of Marvin Williams both psychologically and basketball wise it seems a new location and specifically Utah could allow Williams to prosper.
From the psychological standpoint Williams was drafted #2 ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul in one of the greatest draft gaffes of all time. Williams forever had the pressure of trying to live up to that mistake and he was never able to free him of that burden. For the first time this season he will be a member of a team without that expectation upon him.
On the floor, Williams became almost exclusively a spot up shooter. Last year, he was good at that hitting on 40% of his spot up three point shots. This was a big improvement from a year prior at 35%. Williams used 35% of his possessions last year on spot ups and 19% in transition.
His game didn’t fit the Hawks offense. The Hawks ran a isolation game with very little cutting and movement. Williams is not a good isolation player, he was just 6 of 18 shooting in isolation last year and the year prior he got more opportunity and struggled as well 15 of 53 shooting for 28%
Williams had success off cuts which is a large part of the Jazz offense hitting on 33 of 58 plays off cuts. This was true the year prior as well; he was 33 of 54 on the cut and got fouled 17% of the time on these plays. Watching him on synergy he anticipates well and moves off the ball with great smarts.
Williams was only involved in 37 post up plays and 16 pick and rolls all year. The question is whether that is because the system didn’t allow it or he couldn’t do it. A year prior he posted up more but didn’t have a great deal of success at 22 of 57 on post-ups.
One area of concern is Williams took a huge step backwards finishing at the rim last season. For the three years prior he was 64% at the rim and then this season he was just 54%, with 8.5% of his shots being blocked the highest in his career. He has been inconsistent on his 16 to 23 footer. The league average is 38% and last season Williams hit 34% after the year before nailing 44%.
Maybe the most important item is that Williams has always played better as a small forward rather than a power forward. In Atlanta he had to play nearly 40% of his minutes as a power forward. He was more productive on both the defensive and offensive ends as a small forward. He was overmatched defensively from the power forward position, but well above average defensively from the small forward.
Everything I have heard about Williams is he is a great guy, a hard worker and needs a fresh start. At this point he is a nice addition to a team and can fill a valuable complementary role, if can evolve beyond that in a new system will be the question.