Who says that a good benching doesn’t send a message?
While the Nets as a team have continued to struggle with their field goal percentage, Terrence Williams has seen a dramatic turnaround in his offensive efficiency since his two game benching earlier this month after being late to a practice, and “tweeting” about his lack of playing time and his desires to be playing elsewhere in the NBA. While I would have doled out a little more punishment to TWill, especially after he mouthed off to a few reporters when they asked him about his benching, the rookie out of Louisville seems to have received the message and is listening to his coaches more – especially regarding the idea of him taking less outside shots and taking it more aggressively to the hoop.
“Everybody has strengths and weaknesses,” said Kiki Vandeweghe at practice yesterday. “What you do during games is you try to go to your strengths. Terrence is very athletic, and he attacks the basket well. That’s his strength. Practice time is for working on your weaknesses, but in games, you go to your strengths. That’s a strength. So we would like him to keep attacking.”
For the season, TWill’s is still taking about 59 percent of his field goal attempts from 10-feet out and further, but that’s after a very definitive shift in Williams’ approach that started on December 11, after he was put back into the rotation by Kiki against the Indiana Pacers. In that game, Williams was 2-4 from the field, including a 70-foot three-point attempt at the end of a quarter, and only took 1 other shot from beyond 15-feet. In the following games against the Hawks, Williams was 8-14 for 18 points, and was 2-5 from beyond 15-feet. Last week against Utah, Williams was 6-10, only taking two shots from beyond 15-feet (missing them both).
The end results have been positive for Williams. While his playing time has see-sawed a bit from game to game (he barely played Saturday against the Lakers), Williams is shooting a robust 56 percent in his last six games and approximately 68 percent of his field goal attempts have come near the rim. This is the same player who shot 36 percent in November, and started off the Kiki Vandeweghe era by going 2-12 against the Bobcats (including 0-6 outside of 10-feet) and 0-5 two days later against the Knicks (0-3 outside of 10-feet). It was during the Knicks game that Kiki initially benched Williams, who then went on to tweet about his playing time, while telling reporters that he wasn’t about to change what has worked for him as a player.
It’s a good thing Williams got over his pig-headishness, because he’s starting to reflect a competent NBA rotation player, and the less he worries about his outside shot, the more he can focus on doing some of the things that made him a lottery pick – namely being able to score, rebound, and pass in ways that help his team out, not his final stat sheet.