Check out the entire report cards over at QCH, as they are running one for each player on the Hornets over the course of the off-season.
Name: Mo Williams
Position: Point Guard
Team: Charlotte Hornets
2014-15 Grade: B
The move to acquire Mo Williams halfway through the 2014-15 season was one made out of necessity. The Hornets lost their starting point guard and go-to scorer, Kemba Walker, right in the midst of a tight Eastern Conference playoff push, and without a legitimate full-time fill-in on the roster things looked grim.
Enter: Mo Williams.
Williams was added near the deadline as sort of a stop-gap measure. The organization hoped that he could serve as a solid enough replacement for their prized player, and at least help to keep the team afloat in the East while Walker was on the mend. Williams and Walker play a similar style – both undersized scoring guards – so the move made some solid sense, and it worked well, at first.
The Hornets went on a five-game winning streak shortly after Williams’ arrival in the Queen City, and Williams carried a big load on the offensive end initially. But as the season wore on, inconsistency set it. Williams shifted to the bench when Walker returned, and the Hornets struggled, dropping 7 out of their last 8 games and missing out on the playoffs; something hyper-competitive owner Michael Jordan was probably not too happy about, especially on the heels of the team’s playoff appearance last season.
Williams performed much better in his first 14 games as a starter (19.8 ppg, 43% from the field), than he did in the final 13 in a reserve role (14.5 ppg, 34% from the field). The twelve-year veteran is an unrestricted free agent this summer, making his future in Charlotte uncertain to say the least.
|Image via usatoday.com|
Strengths: Mo can score. Quite simply his biggest asset to a team is his ability to put the ball in the basket from the guard position. His ability to score is why he has been able to last so long in the league, despite being bounced around – he has played on seven different teams – and that is why he was brought to Charlotte. In that regard, he didn’t disappoint.
In his 27 games with the Hornets, Williams averaged 17.2 points per game, good for the second highest average on the entire team, behind only Walker’s 17.3 points per. He has the ability to score in a variety of ways, as he can penetrate into the paint or pull-up from beyond the arc. His ability to hit three-point shots was a help for the Hornets, as it allowed them to stretch the floor in the absence of any other reliable long-distance options. Charlotte was 25th league-wide in three’s made per game with only 6.1, and Williams connected on 2.2 of those per game during his time with the team. This helped him to keep opposing defenses on their heels and in turn opened up opportunities for teammates.
Although he is mainly known as a scorer, Williams is also a decent distributor. He has a respectable career average of five assists per game, and he improved upon that number during his stint in Charlotte. His average of six assists per game with the Hornets led the entire team. Second was Walker with 5.1 per contest. The Hornets weren’t exactly bursting with offensive options, but Williams made the most out of it. In his 27 games with the team, Williams became their second leading scorer, and leading assist man on the season; not too bad.
Weaknesses: You know that saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’? Well, that pretty aptly applies to Mo Williams. After twelve seasons and seven franchises, you pretty much know what you’re going to get with Williams, both good and bad.
While Williams is a solid scorer, he is far from an efficient one. During his time with the Hornets last season, he shot only 39% from the field, despite taking over 15 shots per game. While he shot 33% from three-point range, he posted an effective field goal % of only 46. He is a high-volume scorer, meaning he needs the ball in his hands and needs plenty of opportunities to produce. He might put up 30 points, but it is going to take 25 shots, and while that may work on an individual game basis, overall it is not great for the flow of an offense, especially from the point guard position. His usage percentage with the Hornets was a whopping 28.8 – on par with guys like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. In short, Williams is going to put up points, but he is going to eat up an offense doing it; think of a less dynamic and tenacious Allen Iverson.
Aside from straight ahead, where Williams likes to operate from, he didn’t shoot especially well from anywhere in the field with the Hornets, and actually shot below the league average right around the rim:
Williams was also never the best defender. When he was younger at least he had quickness, but at this point he is often a liability at that end, especially when matched up against some of the league’s elite young guards like Curry, Russell Westbrook, or Kyrie Irving. With mounting injury issues, Williams’ defensive lapses became difficult to recover from at times, and that put a lot of pressure on the Hornets defense. It is safe to say that no one interested in Mo Williams’ services at this point in his career want him for his defensive ability.
Check out the rest of the report card, including reasons for optimism/pessimism here.