The Charlotte Hornets signed Marvin Williams to stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting.
Imagine how improbable that would have been just six years ago.
In his third NBA season with the Atlanta Hawks, Williams treated taking a 3-pointer as a last resort. Or whatever comes beyond a last resort, like a necessary evil.
“When I took them, I’d shoot in the upper 20s (in percentage), and coach (Mike) Woodson would get on Josh (Smith) and me about taking them,” Williams said.
“My third or fourth year in the league I took like 10 3s (1-of-10 the 2007-08 season), and they were all literally as the (shot) clock was running out.”
The second overall pick in the 2005 draft out of North Carolina, Williams focused on driving with the ball. Then Woodson asked him to spend an offseason working on his corner 3-pointer. A career-extending transformation took place.
Williams, who is 6-foot-9, showed up in Charlotte coming off a career season from his now-favorite spot on the floor. He shot 35.9 percent from 3-point range with the Utah Jazz. His 84 3-point makes were by far the most of his nine NBA seasons.
That got the Charlotte Hornets’ attention after power forward Josh McRoberts left for the Miami Heat. Now Williams is a Hornet, and coach Steve Clifford penciled him in as a starter before training camp started last week.
Clifford needs the 3-point range Williams provides. But that’s not the only reason he’s a Hornet.
“Marvin is a very good defender, both individual defense – pick-and-roll defense – and he’s got the reaction (time) to play good team defense,” Clifford said.
“He’s a smart player – when he’s open, he shoots; when he’s not, he passes.”
That’s an imperative in Clifford’s approach to basketball; messages in huge type on the walls of the practice facility implore players to shoot, pass and move; don’t let the ball “stick” in place with indecision.
That’s not an issue with Williams, according to Hornets center Al Jefferson, who played with him in Utah.
“He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around. He knows how to adjust his game to make the team better,” Jefferson said. “I’m going to make his life easy, and he’s sure going to make mine easy” by spreading the floor.
Williams appreciates the praise, but he said he’s just a product of good coaching – from North Carolina’s Roy Williams through Woodson and the other pro coaches he had in Atlanta and Salt Lake City.
“I think sometimes guys take for granted the blessing of a good coach,” Williams said Sunday after practice. “Not that there are a lot of bad coaches at this level, but some guys take a little more time to teach the basics.”
There’s a smoothness and ease in the way Williams conducts himself. He said that’s about having made peace with who he is and isn’t at the NBA level.
“I’m not going to do anything I’m not comfortable doing or capable of doing,” Williams said.
“There comes a point when you have to accept who you are, not who you think you are. You don’t want to tell people what they can and cannot be, but at some point in your career you have to see who you really are.”