Season stats: 58 G, 35 GS, 22.0 MPG, 4.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG, .478 eFG%, .543 TS%, 11.9 PER, 7.2% PIE
Shelden Williams should hopefully be able to bring what Johan Petro never could last year – a consistent, defensive-minded/rebounding big man off the bench. I doubt he’ll be the starting PF for the long haul, but you could do a lot worse in a spot start (as the Nets consistently did last April). With all of the shooters on the team, and Brook and Deron, you don’t need Shelden to be a scorer, just somebody who can throw a body on Amare/Garnett/Bosh in spurts.
A part of me wants to say “The Landlord” was a surprise player for the Nets this season, or at the very least underrated, but when looking more closely at the preseason outlook and then more specifically at his statistics, it turns out that Williams played exactly as advertised. The only “problem” with Shelden, if you will, was because of the comical number of frontcourt injuries the Nets endured (Brook Lopez, Mehmet Okur and Damion James as a starting point), he was forced into a larger role than initially expected. Though he started 38 games for the Nuggets and Knicks last year, I don’t think anyone thought he’d be repeating that trend to the tune of 35 starts this season.
The good news was Williams didn’t really become any more exposed as a player in this unexpectedly expanded role. The bad news was the Nets had a player of Shelden’s caliber forced into a starting role for more than half of the season. The Nets got a player who is clearly limited on the offensive end (only 3.5 field goal attempts per game, with about 2.5 of those coming at the rim). The Nets got a good, but not great rebounder (his rebounding rate of 16.0 is sandwiched right between his career high – 17.5 – and his career low – 15.0). Williams was a little more turnover prone that he has been in years past (19.0 turnover ratio, compared to 13.1 and 13.9 the two seasons prior), though that seemed to be a systemic problem for the Nets frontcourt the entire season (makes you wonder if D-Will is as good at getting the ball to his big men in the right spot as we like to project). None of this makes Williams an actively bad player, just not someone you want to start more than 50 percent of your games in an abbreviated season.
Still, he deserves kudos for being who the Nets thought he was throughout the entire season. For a team that was so critically marred with injuries and inconsistencies, until the bitter end of the season, Williams was the Nets’ version of old reliable. Provided the Nets can fortify their front court and keep them healthy, “The Landlord” would probably be great in the role he was initially brought in here to do. Just to expect him to become a poor man’s Brook Lopez or even a throwback to the surprise 2006-07 Mikki Moore campaign was unrealistic.