Mr. Versatility: Terrence Williams

Williams_vsJazzBefore he was drafted last June, the one word that always seemed to be associated with Terrence Williams was “versatile.” He had the size and muscle to be an option at small forward, but his ball handling and passing ability made him an option to run the offense and create match-up problems as a point forward. To demonstrate his versatility, he had a double-double in his first professional game in October, and three more before the end of November. But his up and down shooting marred portions of his rookie season, and some off-the-court attitude issues cut into his playing time. So, while the following might sound like an obvious statement, let me preface it by saying that I’m ecstatic that TWill has gotten his act together to be in a position for me to be so obvious:

Terrence Williams does a lot of things really, really well.

For the month of March, Williams has averaged 14 points, 4.9 assists and 6.7 rebounds in about 30 minutes of playing time. It’s been a stunning turnaround for the rookie who some were saying early-on was bordering on becoming a bust. Instead, TWill has forced his way onto the court during critical end-of-game situations, primarily because he can do so many things to help his team win at three different positions.

Let’s start with some passing numbers. At the beginning of the season, I used to pick apart Williams for getting too “cute” with his passes, and underestimating the speed of the NBA game. In the past six weeks, TWill seems to be grasping this idea, and while he still makes mistakes, he’s also distributed some of the prettiest dimes I’ve ever seen from a player his size. When looking at how he stacks up against other SFs in the league (which is still his most natural position in my opinion), TWill’s 16.3 assist ratio is good for 6th at the position. Against other rookies, TWill’s ratio places him 10th, but he’s the only non-PG in the top 10, according to ESPN’s statistics.

As for his rebounding – which I think might be his strongest skill – TWill’s rebound rate of 11 is good for 9th at the SF position (and tied with LeBron James, who as I’m reminded often, is built like a linebacker). He is comfortably the best non PF/C rebounder on the Nets’ roster.

The one knock against TWill continues to be his shooting percentage, but he even has a strong suit there. While it’s still a relatively small sample, Williams as demonstrated a real penchant for the corner three, shooting 12-22 (55 percent) from that spot on the floor. As I’ve ranted on about in the past, the Nets were one of the most effective teams from the corner last year, and I think they would have gotten off to a better start if they had a healthy Jarvis Hayes to hit from the corner, along with a more confident Courtney Lee. As it stands, Williams may want to hide out in the corner a bit more on offense as well, but he may be too busy helping his team by running the offense and grabbing rebounds to focus on that statistic right now.