Drafted: 17th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers
2011-12 salary: $3,000,000
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Offense: Though Williams’ per-game averages don’t say much for his career, all of the coaches in all of the stops that he’s made in his young career have praised him as an outstanding talent. Little has been made of it, due to his off-the-court issues and great depth that he experienced, mainly in Indiana and Dallas. Averaging 5.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game while shooting 42% isn’t a lot, but when you look at per-36 minutes, Williams gives 13 and 6 from the small forward position, which isn’t ignorable.
Williams is best offensively when he exploits mismatches with his solid combination of athleticism, size, and skills. Particularly, Williams is a great combo forward that can find certain advantages over opposing forwards with his strong shooting skills and a tall, long frame; he also can play off-guard whenever necessary, as his quickness and length make him a force with the right match-ups.
Defense: As a defender, he’s essentially a question mark. Williams hasn’t necessarily been seen as a prime subject, though he was given a substantial amount of time on the floor with the New York Knicks because of his defensive abilities — which led to him earning a career-high 20.7 minutes per game in New York). It remains to be seen whether he’ll become a long-term factor on defense, but he’s certainly capable. What the Nets need are players that can stop the ball from a defensive standpoint, and Williams can do that when he cares to do so.
2011-12 Outlook: Williams will likely be a prime player for New Jersey, but it’s all about opportunity and earning potential, things he is directly responsible for. I believe that Williams will eventually play 30 minutes per game, but that is a departure from his career norm of just under 16. If he plays anywhere near 20 minutes, expect Williams to be an offensive factor next to Deron Williams. Anything is possible with him, so it remains to be seen whether he’ll achieve a greater level of success with the Nets.
Facts of life: Williams has a checkered past, culminating in a brush with the law regarding marijuana and handgun possession. He’s matured since then, and much of his future success is predicated on how the Nets handle him. (Don’t eff this up, New Jersey.)