All-Time Nets All-Star Team, The Centers: Jayson Williams before it all

Jayson Williams hit the glass like few others. (AP)
Jayson Williams hit the glass like few others. (AP)

1997-1998 Stats: 65 GP, 36.0 MPG, 12.9 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 49.8 FG%, 66.6 FT%
1997-1998 Advanced: 54.1 TS%, 49.8 eFG%, 18.7 PER, 121 ORtg, 105 DRtg, 8.4 WS
All-Star Team? Yes
Team: 43-39, lost in first round to Chicago Bulls (3-0)

This details Jayson Williams’s career up to his 1997-1998 season, and nothing beyond.

The New Jersey Nets acquired Jayson Williams at the start of the 1992-1993 season from the Philadelphia 76ers for two second round picks that ended up being William Njoku and Kebu Stewart. Williams brought length and toughness to a team that needed immediate defensive help.

With the Nets, Williams improved every year. While in his first few seasons he was merely averaging below 5 points per game and only a few rebounds per game, his career began to take off. In the 1995-1996 season Williams averaged 9 points per game and 10 rebounds per game, which was a dramatic increase from his 4.8 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game the year before.

Williams put up great numbers in the 1996-1997 season, however injuries derailed him. He was on pace for his best season in the NBA, averaging 13.4 points per game and 13.5 rebounds per game. Still, his game lacked offensive efficiency as he shot under 41% from the field.

Williams was awarded for his great work following the 1996-1997 season, receiving a large contract from the Nets. The 1997-1998 season will be forever known as the pinnacle of his career; Williams averaged 12.9 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. Williams was second in the NBA in rebounds per game while leading the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage. Williams also led the NBA in offensive rebounds. What’s most impressive about this season was that his field goal percentage skyrocketed to just below 50% at .498%. His free throw percentage also improved from .590% to .666%.

Williams’s great 1997-1998 season earned him his first All-Star game appearance. Moreover, his great play helped the Nets reach the NBA playoffs. Though the Nets got swept, it was to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and Williams was a beast on the boards, averaging 14 rebounds per game.

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