If you compare Marvin Williams' stats from the 2010-11 season to the 2009-10 season you see some major similarities. Williams averaged slightly more points (10.4 to 10.1) per game this season than last while playing nearly two minutes less. His shooting percentage from the field stayed essentially the same (.458) while he improved in three point percentage (.336) and free throw percentage (.845). So if Williams was essentially the same player in 2011 that he was in 2010, then why did it seem like he was so much worse?
For one, he was injured and out of the lineup a lot this season. Williams played in just 65 games this season after playing in 81 in 2009-10. We also witnessed Williams get bumped from the starting lineup in favor of Jason Collins when Larry Drew elected to go with a big lineup. Perhaps that move makes Williams appear expendable to the Hawks and maybe he is. However, with Williams being owed in excess of $ 8 million for each of the next three seasons, it may be hard to find a taker for Atlanta's most expendable forward.
It was thought that the move from a more isolation offense to more of a motion concept would help Marvin in the big picture of what is the Hawks offense. There was nights that it did but all to often, especially coming down the stretch of the season, he seemed to disappear and was little more than an afterthought. The fifth man in a lineup where there is a small distribution of shots available.
It is difficult to have a conversation about Marvin Williams without bringing up where he was drafted and who he was picked ahead of. I have been of the opinion that over the last several seasons that Marvin has been the object of criticism more so for who he is not rather than who he is. Despite letting his feelings about coming off the bench be known, he has approached his role on the team in a pro like way without rocking the boat and wanting more touches. The problem lies that when Atlanta invested a sizable contract extension on him, they perhaps need him to rock the boat a little more. It is not like Marvin is completely useless on offense. For a player that primarily is a jump shooter, a 46 percent shooting percentage looks pretty good.
The biggest problem is that it seems that Marvin peaked offensively for the Hawks when he was 21 years old and averaged 14.8 points per game 2007-08. Williams attempted 11.5 shots per game that season but over the last two seasons he has averaged just 8.2 and 8.3. That no doubt has a lot to do with the presence of Jamal Crawford in the lineup.
I am of the opinion that Atlanta will shop Williams hard this summer as he perhaps needs a fresh start with a new team. It remains to be seen if they can find a taker because his value likely took a hit as he slid further and further into the background for the Hawks. If Atlanta is unable to move him, then the challenge is the same that it has been for the last several seasons when it comes to Williams. They have to look for ways to get him more involved in the offense. That is also the challenge for Williams. To stop simply trying to fit in and to go out and become the player that Atlanta thought it was getting when they signed him to that extension whether that role is starting or coming off the bench.
Will it happen? I'm not sure but it sure does sound pretty good.