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Examining Marvin Williams role with the Hawks

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

When discussing the Atlanta Hawks, the topic of Marvin Williams always solicits much debate and very differing opinions. Today I want to examine Marvin’s play and try to explore just how important he is to the Hawks success or failures.

This past off season Marvin signed a contract extension with the Hawks for the next 4 seasons that also includes a players option for a 5th season. Marvin makes 7.5 million this year and that number actually drops next season to 6.7 before escalating back up. Its not a terrible contract and one that you would think wouldn’t be too terribly difficult to trade if was so desired.

Over Marvin’s last 5 games he is averaging:

  • 7.2 points per game
  • 6.4 rebounds
  • 16 for 36 shooting
  • 2 of 5 from deep

On the season Marvin is averaging:

  • 29.6 minutes
  • 10.2 points per game
  • 5.1 rebounds
  • .442 % shooting from the field
  • .344 % shooting from deep

Despite signing the extension over the summer Marvin has seen a reduction in his minutes and role this season. The addition of Jamal Crawford has kept Williams on the bench during many 4th quarters. Looking at the numbers Marvin is averaging about 3 points and 1 rebound a game less than last season while playing about 5 less minutes.

Early on this season it appeared that Marvin was searching for his role, he looked lost and confused. Still today he appears to be the forgotten man on offense and has only recently appeared to be looking for his shot more. Too often though Marvin is too passive on offense and just becomes a spot up shooter in the Hawks iso driven offense. However, Marvin has taken on the role of guarding the opposing teams best offensive wing. He appears after that early confusion to be figuring out what the team needs him to do which is rebound and play good solid defense.

To Marvin’s credit he has never complained. A lot of players that signed an extension like he did would scoff at taking a reduced role. Especially a player that has taken as much criticism as Marvin Williams. It would be easy for him to ask for more time or a more defined role in the offense or even a trade. To his credit he hasn’t done that. He comes in and tries to do his job and then leaves without anything said.

Still when I play with various trade simulators Marvin is always the first contract I pull up for the Hawks because I deem him the most expendable. Is he really that expendable? The defensive short comings of a lineup of Bibby, Crawford, and Johnson would mount with increased playing time. Starting Mo Evans in Marvin’s place would further weaken the bench. Any scenario that moves Josh Smith back to the 3 is just ludicrous in my opinion.

Fact is every good team out there has glue guys and right now that appears to be Marvin. We can look at the numbers all day and feel like this season has been a struggle for Marvin. I feel he probably has struggled but it is a direct result of less opportunities due to the advancement of Horford and Smith and the acquisition of Jamal Crawford. Give him those opportunities back and he is probably right around last years averages or slightly above his career averages. There in lies the problem because so much more is expected out of a #2 overall selection in the draft.

In the short term what the Hawks have is working. If you hypothetically traded Marvin for someone like a Caron Butler then it may or may not work as well. Butler would not accept the amount of shots that Marvin is taking and therefore would probably take away from Horford or Smith. You also could lose some on the defensive end. For me the uncertainties out weigh the certains in any potential trade of our key players.

What do you think about Marvin? Should the Hawks be shopping him at the deadline? Should Mike Woodson try and give him a bigger role? Or is everything alright like it is right now?

Topics: Atlanta Hawks, Marvin Williams

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  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Thursday night I met one of the Bulls beat writers and I found myself ferociously defending Marvin Williams. The writer talked about how much Marvin had regressed and etc. and I tried to explain to him that Marvin is playing a specific role with this team. I explained to him that Marvin is probably the best on ball defender the Hawks have and he’s the epitome of a company man. He does what is asked of him and he does not complain. Every team needs that guy. I don’t think Marvin has regressed because he’s not a good player, I think that he’s regressed because he’s been given less opportunities. He’s at best the 5th option on offense unless he finds himself on the floor strictly with the second team, then he’s about 3rd because Jamal is option one and two. I honestly believe Marvin is a better player than his numbers suggest. But, you’re right any trade scenarios pretty much start with him. His contract is reasonable and if you’re going to bring in someone comparable or better than him then there has to be some money involved. Marvin is one of those players the casual fan and or the person who looks from afar cannot appreciate.

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  • KWillis

    I would challenge that Bulls writer with that Marvin is precisely the kind of glue guy that the Bulls need.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I feel like Marvin gets a bad rep because of who he is not, but in reality Marvin’s in a situation that is better than Chris Paul and or Deron Williams. He has a better chance of coming out of his conference than either of them and as a Hawks fan that is my concern. I don’t care that Marvin’s numbers aren’t eye popping. If he can come in and play his role and get my favorite team to championship contender status, he’s fine with me. WE only have a small sample of a few games, but when Joe doesn’t play, Marvin plays well. I’m not saying he can step right in and fill the shoes Joe may leave this summer, but you know what, he might show that he is capable of being a scorer and that maybe that #2 pick was justified. This league is all about opportunities and if Marv were the focal point of the offense, he might actually produce. Who knows?

  • KWillis

    I agree with all of your points here. I purposefully did not mention Paul in my post because he will forever be tied to Marvin. Would I love to have Paul? Absolutely! Would we be better? Who knows? I also agree that Marvin could score more, probably pretty well on a team where his usage rate would go up. The thing I admire about Marvin is as a young player he seems to be committed to winning. Too often that is the opposite with young players.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    True, he could totally have gone the other way. I think Marvin is actually genuinely just happy to be in the NBA and be able to provide for his family. I saw an interview a while back about how happy he was that he could put his family through college. Who cares if he never becomes a super star. If he has a good NBA career and wins a championship it won’t matter. And, Marvin is only 23, the book is far from being written about him.

  • KWillis

    Would you also agree that his being content is also part of many fans criticism? I think he is doing what the team requires him to do. However, there is the opinion that Marvin is just that too complacent. That he doesn’t work on his game. I don’t necessarily agree with it but I can see where that comes from. Marvin is happy to be in the league and is glad to be a key peace on a winning team. On the other hand Chris Paul is trying to be the best point guard in the NBA. NBA all star, and Olympian.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I would agree that his complacency could be a problem, but there’s no room for anything else on this team. There’s already this worst kept secret rivalry between Joe and Jamal. They all say the right things, but don’t you know it is burning Joe up inside to hear his teammates, the guys he’s been with for years say all of these glowing things about Crawford night in and night out. Joe can score 34, but the 22 Jamal gives is viewed at as more important. The Difference huh? Anyway, there’s no room for another ego on this team and I think Marvin is mature enough to understand that. There’s a pecking order and try as he might, he will not be moving up that list this season. Chris Paul is definitely a great offensive guard and it’s great that he can run a team and he’s given the opportunity to do so. Marvin is not int that situation because everyone is viewed as more valuable than him so obviously they aren’t going to take a back seat to him. He’s going to continue to be a role player unless something drastic happens to one of the core guys.

  • KWillis

    Well said. Its a testament to Marvin that he can figure out what his role is and then perform at it. It has to be frustrating to have a decent game going and to never get back in the game during the 4th quarter.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    And you would think from a defensive standpoint Woody would favor a lineup of Marv, Joe, Jamal, Josh and Al. Let’s be honest, the fourth quarter offense is basically a bunch of isolation plays. They don’t necessarily need Mike Bibby in there for that. It seems to me it would be more beneficial to at least have your best defender on the floor. I don’t know what the future holds for Marvin, but like you said he’s the kind of guy every team needs and he’s not over-paid. The only real complaints people have about Marvin are that he isn’t Chris Paul. There’s nothing he can do about that.

  • KWillis

    You know early on it seemed that Bibby was the odd one out late in the game but more and more recently it has been Marvin. Maybe it will have to do with match ups.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Yeah, I guess we should assume it’s about match-ups, but it’s hard to make that argument when you consider Bibby is an absolutely dreadful defender, so it clearly has more to do with the offensive side of the ball. The side Mike Woodson thinks will take care of itself……

  • KWillis

    Yep, hoopinion does some good breakdowns of the “effectiveness” defensively of the Bibby and Crawford back court.

    While writing this post I kept stopping and saying to myself that I don’t mean to be ripping on Marvin. I like Marvin and I have always been pro Marvin. I feel like I should appreciate what he brings more.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I think that when assessing Marvin there are just things we have to be able to keep in perspective. It may sound like excuse making on my part, but I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of why Marvin’s numbers are where they are. I often times come off as an apologist for certain players, but that’s certainly not my intention. Even though people say numbers don’t lie, sometimes they don’t tell the whole truth.

  • KWillis

    If you give Marvin back the same role as last season then I think you are looking at the same type of numbers given how he has played this season. Now that is both good and bad. 1. it means that he isn’t struggling as bad as it feels which is also exactly what me and you have been saying. 2. It also means that there hasn’t been a lot of growth to his game either. Of course this isn’t a perfect comparison because it deals with a hypothetical situation. That said this off season will be an interesting one. I don’t know what will happen with Joe. Marv may become a much more important part to the Hawks or may be the guy that we trade away to try and shore up some other areas.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    This off season will be interesting. Peachtreehoops looks at the ramifications of this off-season as it pertains to the 2011 CBA. Check that out if you get a chance.

  • KWillis

    I read that earlier, and it also hammers home the idea that we better get Horford signed long term.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I only hope management is smarter than fans when it comes to assessing the Joe Johnson max contract situation and how that will affect their ability to re-sign Horford.

  • KWillis

    I must admit I have a hard time when it comes to that area as well. There is always that worry that we will let the team slip. With the Hawks it has been easy to not trust management.

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