The Nets have had a crazy off-season thus far. Despite being rumored in signing (or trading) for a number of players, it wasn’t until the Nets signed former Hawk, King, Timberwolf, Celtic, Nugget and Knick, Shelden Williams, that the Nets were officially “in the game”.
Although the signing of Williams isn’t the splashiest off-season move — and hopefully more are coming — with an already thin front-court, the Nets were in desperate need of an abled-bodied big, and Shelden is certainly that.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer a look at some of the things we could expect from Williams this season.
Taking one look at Shelden’s career points per game total (4.5 in 303 games) should tell you all you need to know about his offensive game. I don’t think any of the Nets front-office brass signed Williams and expected him to be a primary offensive weapon, but he can do some things on that end of the floor.
Well for starters, you can throw the ball into him in the post. Sometimes. At 6’9″, Williams doesn’t have great size, so in the post he tends to either finish over his left shoulder (with a hook shot), or face his man up and shoot a short jumper. His release is quick and compact, which allows him to get that jumper off with little issue.
As a roll man in pick and roll situations, Williams is mobile and quick, rolls hard, and generally rolls to the front of the rim. He’s not the springiest of players and finishes below the rim more than I’d like, but, if given the room to gather he does show some explosion (see video below).
Where you’ll mostly see Shelden get his points, however, is from his energy playing without the ball. Hustle plays such as offensive rebounds and put-backs, cutting or diving off of post-ups, and creating good space when others are penetrating are where Shelden makes his living on the offensive end.
Shelden spent 17 games last season with the Mike D’Antoni-led New York Knicks, so hearing Avery Johnson say things like “contest the shooter!” or “hustle back in transition and defend” may shock his system at first. But — and this may shock you — Shelden didn’t last in this league for his offense. By all accounts, Williams is a tough, physical defender and is able to handle skilled post-players, which playing next to Brook Lopez is exactly what’s needed. He’s strong and has good footwork defensively in the post, which allows him to keep opposing players from getting deep post position. It’s this control of the space around the paint that’s earned Williams the nickname “the Landlord.”
In isolation situations, Williams has just enough agility in his feet to keep drivers in front of him and again, his physical strength is able to bump drivers off their path at first contact. As a pick and roll defender, Williams is able to jump out and provide a strong hedge on the ball handler, while quickly being able to recover to his man.
He seems to struggle the most when dealing with players who are longer or taller than him. He also seems to have a tough time dealing with players who throw more of a finesse game at him. Williams would rather deal with a player who physically tries to back him down, rather than face him up and play that way.
Everything that’s been stated about Shelden Williams since the Nets acquired him is the kind of presence he’ll bring to the team both on and off the floor. Williams is the kind of player who understands his role and how he can help teams win:
I mean, that’s been my job since I’ve been playing basketball. Be physical, rebound, play defense do all the little stuff. It’s stuff that doesn’t get a lot of positive feedback, but it’s just the job I do.
via Mike Mazzeo — ‘Landlord’ takes his game over the Hudson
He’s also someone who is going to give us leadership in the locker room, and possibly provide mentorship to our younger players. As a senior at Duke, Shelden took to the dry-erase board before an important game against rival Maryland, and wrote out all the keys to the game, addressing the team before the head coach Mike Krzyzewski even got in the locker room. It’s that kind of intangible leadership that may go further than anything he provides on the court.