Marvin attempting a very difficult basketball move.
From the very beginning, the vagueness of Marvin's injury and specificness of its location (the back) put a deep cloud of freak out over the preceding. Whenever an agent is publicly involved two days after the injury, things are not good. At this point, the most positive sign I have seen from anyone close to the Hawks goes something like "hopefully, Marvin is not done for the year." I think I would rather be lied to and told it was "day to day." I know they can do that. Speedy has been out with a pulled hamstring all season. But alas, the dark cloud has settled so it is time to put on the "what if" hat and travel down the Marvin-less road that might be the rest of the season.
The places Marvin exponentially helps the Hawks
- Playing really good defense on really good small forwards. If the Hawks make the second round, they will almost surely go up against Paul Pierce or LeBron James. A miracle would have to happen to win those series as is and without Marvin defending, we are looking at upwards of 4 to 5 miracles. In the short term, Marvin obviously guards some kind of small forward every night and while he may still disappear on offense, he has turned into a very good on the ball defender. Neither Mo Evans, Josh Smith, and Joe Johnson are as good, and from game to game that will show. It may only be two points, but you can lose a game by two points. (BTW when was the last time a small forward killed the Hawks? And no I do not consider 26ish point performances by the like of LeBron killing.)
- Hit the jump shot and be clutch about it. Marvin has off nights, but that jumper has been a nice offensive dry spell ender for the team. When Joe cannot hit and the inside is shut down, Marvin can hit that thing with ease. No other Hawk that will play the three is provided either enough space to do that or has the skill set to do it.
- Chemistry. Marvin is part of the four most used five man units. With him gone, players that do not normally play extended minutes together will find themselves doing so. This could show the idiocy of Mike Woodson's stringent subbing pattern and allow some players to blossom, or it could make a even greater mangled mess of an offense I sometimes nickname "the mangled mess."
- Marvin has improved dramatically around the basket. I have seem Mo Evans miss at least five dunks this year.
- Marvin can hit free throws.
Don't get so mad. I am only doing this list so I don't look bias.
The places Marvin's absence may benefit the Hawks.
- Al Horford could play more power forward next to Pachulia with either Josh Smith or Joe Johnson at the three. Rebounding has been a consistent issue. Maybe the with the
newold Josh Smith playing, those issues will change, but the Horford/Zaza front line is formidable at least in regards to boards.
- Marvin still disappears some games. He scores seven points in the opening quarter and starts thinking about D Lee! dunking on people. This has become less and less the case, but the Marvin that takes over games still is a rare occurrence.
- All that glowing stuff I said about Marvin....well the stats, don't necessarily agree. The small forward position has the worst PER (player efficiency rating) differential at -2.3. That is three times as bad as any other position. The defense's points per possession allowed with Marvin at small forward in the three most common five man units is 1.07, 1.09, and 1.03. It is .96, 1.09, and 1.08 in the three most common without him.
- Know that I really love Marvin. I love that he pays for all his brothers and sisters to go to college. That he wants to get his college degree. I love how he works on his game. I love the guy. And still, I am a terrible person for saying this, but this injury may make him cheaper this summer.
In the end, I struggle to see how anyone could argue that straight up the Hawks are better without Marvin Williams. He just brings too much to the team. Simply from the depth issue, the Hawks need him. Still, this is not a death blow. The Hawks can make the playoffs without him. Maybe even win a series. If he can come back this year, it would be huge because Woody will have been forced to build up his bench and we will have a vital cog to both ends of the floor for the playoff run. This team has enough talent that if stars aligned that come playoff time the Hawks could really surprise some people for the second straight year. Don't think for a second Marvin is not one of those stars.
Get well soon Marvin. Go Hawks!