Saying Hello to Mo Williams

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

[Ed Note: I guess it was only logical for me to follow the "Saying Goodbye to Devin Harris" piece with this one. Though, it should be noted that Devin Harris was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, bringing back Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz. His piece to come later . . . I guess this week.]

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You know this guy

We know Mo. We know him quite well, because we drafted him after all, waa-aay back in the 2003 NBA Draft. We also know him because he has played 9 seasons in the NBA, and 14 games against the Jazz.

G MPG PPG PPS FG% FT% 3PT%
Mo . 14 32.7 13.9 0.96 . 36.5% 96.3% 29.4%
Williams .
Career . G APG A:TO A:FGM RPG SPG BPG
vs. Jazz . 14 4.5 2.1 0.85 . 2.2 1.0 0.4

While he did not torch us in head-to-head meetings, he was a pretty solid second round pick, #47 – as far as those players go. After all, not many guys picked lower than #45 become All-Stars, and Mo was one back in 2009. He has also gone to the playoffs with three different teams: the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Clippers. And he has career averages of 15.4 ppg, and 5.7 apg as an NBA Starter (while also shooting 44.9 fg%, 39.2 3pt%, and 87.0 ft%).

Mo is a known commodity in a way. We’re going to get threes, at the expense of free throw attempts. We’re going to get spot up shooting instead of driving. We went over the whole "compare and contrast Mo and Devin" thing over here. We’re not going to do that again. Twitter has me thinking that we need to look at this beyond the Mo vs. Devin construct, and see this primarily as the addition of what Mo brings to the team, and Mo’s qualities independent of other PGs.

So let’s start looking at them, one Mo’ time.

Last year the Jazz sucked at threes

There are only so many ways to state this without needing to check into a mental institute. We were #28 out of 30 in threes made (despite being #1 in the entire NBA in total minutes because of all our OTs). We were #29 out of 30 in threes taken. And we were #27 out of 30 in three point percentage. On average, last season the Jazz went 4.1 for 12.8 from downtown, making only 32.3%. As a point of comparison, THREE members of the Houston Rockets (Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry, and Chase Budinger) went 5.2 for 13.9 from downtown, making 37.2% of their attempts. Our entire team was out shot from deep by three dudes on a team that won 2 less games than us.

I just finished talking about how bad we've been in EVEN TAKING THREE POINTERS over the last 20 seasons; let alone the 10 times we were really God awful at them. What we found out is that when we've been a successful team in the playoffs, more often than not, it was on a Jazz team that a) had a good regular season record, and b) also had an average or better ranking against the other NBA teams in terms of 3PT%. The full post is here if you somehow missed it. In the last 20 seasons we only had one Jazz team be actually worse at threes than the one we had last season.

Jazz_threes_-_20_yrs_medium

And yet we made the playoffs.

And yet we lost every game we played. It was bittersweet. There could be less better in our future because we now have Mo Williams on the team, not air ball three point shooting Devin Harris (I didn't mention it in his piece, but Harris DID air ball a number of important threes for us last year, in close games we lost).

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Mo Williams kicks butt at threes:

Mo Williams will take three pointers, and he can make them. He has taken 2062, and made 797 of them in his 589 long game career. That means he shoots 3.5 threes a game, and has a success rate of 38.7 3pt%. Adding him, in this abstraction, would boost the Jazz per game 3pta by +27.3%. That's over a quarter extra boost in 3PTA. And with Mo's proficiency of making them (vs. our ineptitude) he would boost our 3PTM by +32.7%. And that ratio works out in our favor quite a bit (32.7% / 27.3% = 1.1978)!!

Of course these are just his career regular season numbers added to our 2011-12 regular season numbers. If you looked at his career averages for the playoffs, and the pathetic 9 for 45 showing we had from outside in the playoffs (20.0 3pt%) it is no question. Mo Will really help us on offense where we need help. Yes, Mo's playoff three point numbers dip down (from 38.7% to 34.7%), but really, we went 9 for 45 from deep against the Spurs. And a lot of those shots WERE open shots. They were leaving us open and we were bricking them.

You don't leave Mo Williams open. Especially when it comes to spotting up.

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Last year the Jazz were out gunned from outside:

The Jazz owned the paint last year, post ups, offensive rebounds, transition buckets, and cuts to the basket -- these were the main four courses that the Jazz made their opponents feast on. Or forced them to choke on. The Jazz did well on those four types of plays. The Jazz did not do so well scoring from the outside. The Jazz were on the losing side in estimated PPG by playtype off of Isolations, Pick and Rolls, Hand offs, Spot ups, and scoring off of screens. Despite our dominance inside the paint, the Jazz had an overall regular season + playoff combined -1.0 total ppg. I wrote about this recently and you can read the full article here. More specifically, from the 'outside' spots the Jazz had a net estimated PPG by playtype of -12.9 points. That's how much the other teams' guards were killing their Jazz counterparts by.

2011-12_utah_jazz_-_eppp_type_jazz_vs_opp_by_pos_medium

And yet we made the playoffs.

And yet we lost every game we played, and it still sucked.

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Mo Williams does most of his damage from the outside:

Devin Harris is a speedy guard who can penetrate and get to the basket. His entire game is mostly built around speed, after all. Mo William has a different game. This isn't supposed to be a Mo vs. Devin affair though. We already look at their capabilities side by side over here (in case you missed THAT post). We need to look at Mo on his own (it's really unfair to both him and Devin to be compared to one another, they have different skill sets and money making talents). Mo is quite proficient at scoring in precisely the ways we were deficient in: as the Pick and Roll ball handler, off of screens, and he augments our already "nearly okay" Spot up attack.

Over the last three seasons he has done most of his damage from the outside. And when you couple his proficiency in our weaknesses WITH the previous point about his three point shooting . . . you get some really impressive numbers.

Mo_williams_three_year_guard_range_totals

Mo is deadly Spotting up, coming off of Screens, and in transition (PPP all > 1.0). Mo has a few plays where he routinely picks his spots, as the Pick and Roll Ball Handler (if the defender goes behind the screen), and off of Spot ups. Mo is going to shoot it then, and in both of those spots he average 3.6 (estimated) ppg over the course of the last three seasons (regular season + playoffs), or 201 games. Mo also nearly score 3.0 ePPG in transition too. This is, no doubt, a product of being a guard who knows how to score in transition -- but also for his penchant for pulling up for a jumper on the break.

In fact, his three point shooting over these 201 regular season and playoff games has been remarkable: a total 38.6 3pt%. He is hitting on way more than 35.0% overall, and also as the ball handler on a pick and roll; in transition; and most importantly -- as a spot up shooter and off of screens.

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Halftime Review:

  • Mo will score
  • Mo will score from where we need scoring from
  • Mo will take and make threes
  • Mo can make threes in the types of plays we need help in

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Style of play:

How someone plays is more than just the numbers on a screen. Over the last few months I complained about how miss matched Devin Harris (speed) and Al Jefferson ("deliberate paced") were. Mo is a much better fit for Al because a) he doesn't push it up the court at a world record pace, and b) he's much more adept at catching and shooting, or reversing the ball around the horn if the post player kicks it out. We had those Devin air balls during the season, where as now we'll have Mo's daggers.

Also Mo is capable of playing with more than just Big Al. Mo is honestly best spotting up, or catching and shooting. This means that in both cases, he is capable of being effective off the ball. That means the ball doesn't have to be in his hands for him to be useful. That's great, because moving forward the Jazz need to have the ball in the hands of Gordan Hayward and Alec Burks. They both have spectacular handles and were the primary ball handlers on their respective NCAA teams. Burks can penetrate with the best of them. Hayward has elite floor vision. And we've already identified that Mo Williams has averaged (and this was a hard calculation to do at 2:30 am) 1.15 PPP on Spot ups over the last three seasons and two different clubs. He's even better off of screens. And in both cases, he shoots an amazing rate from down town (41.5% on spot ups, 45.7% off of screens).

Last, while Harris was a penetrating guard out of the pick and roll, Williams is a step back jumper shooter and/or distributing guard. He's not going to veer into an already crowded paint off of picks. He's going to decisively make a move to get space and shoot it (again, 3.6 ePPG off of this play over the last 3 seasons), or dish off to a big (either a pick and roll, or pick and pop). We needed to do more pick and roll stuff where the ball goes to a big. Mo will be the PG to do that for us.

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PG Balance:

Last season we had two penetrating PGs, and one defensive PG, and Blake Ahearn. So, uh, a balding PG. Now there is more balance between Earl (the defensive), and Jamaal (the penetrating distributor) being part of a trio with Mo (an outside shooter). This removes redundancy and actually gives us more flexibility. After all, you could not play any pairing of last seasons PGs on the floor together. You actually could this year -- which seems to be part of the way the rest of the NBA is heading. Yes, the dual-ball handler set that we would have seen more of if we drafted Brandon Knight instead of Enes Kanter. In our mind we'll be doing this with Gordon and Burks. But in reality it is more likely to occur in a Jamaal Tinsley / Mo Williams or Earl Watson / Mo Williams set up. This would be to counter when other teams do that kind of thing (like when the Spurs went with Patrick Mills and Danny Green or some crazy thing like that).

There is more balance here as well because Mo wants to be here, and I would not be surprised to see Kevin O'Connor give him an extension in the new few months. Harris' future was uncertain. Williams will give the position some stability that was not previously there. Earl appears to be the most expressive one of the group, but hopefully he will be okay with coming off the bench for at least one more season. (He could start on a lottery club)

I cannot stress enough how good it will be to not have a ball dominant PG starting. The bench needs to have their hands held, but our projected starters do not. Mo will compliment everyone (not just his back ups) that much better.

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He's the right kind of player to ease off into the sunset in a few seasons:

Mo Williams is the starter for our team right now. He is also 29. He will be on the wrong side of 30 in 155 days. When our C4 (Core Four) are in their physical peaks (4-5 years from now) he'll be approaching an age not many point guards continue to be starters at. He's older than Devin Harris, and has one more year on him experience wise. He's also closer to that "I am the man at PG / I am here to help out at PG" cut off point than Devin. Devin made a ton of sacrifices, but I just think that when the Jazz snag their point guard of the future -- Mo will be more capable of sharing the keys to the car, and more importantly, still be an impact player off the bench.

The Jazz may very well find Williams' out side shooting to be invaluable. As a result, he could have value with our club for a long while. That value better translates to the bench than a PG who has a skill set based upon physical attributes like speed and quickness (which diminish over time, age, and wear). Mo also isn't terribly durable, so there will be enough time during the doldrums of the season to give other guys a chance at running things (Earl will get some starts, Alec will get to run the point -- and so forth).

And if we happen to draft our PG of the future, and let's just say he's not a great shooter -- I know a PG who IS a great shooter who can be an older brother / mentor to him. Harris can't teach a guy to be faster (which is his skill). But Mo can do a lot of shooting drills and post-practice games with a dude to help him gain confidence in his shot (which is Mo's skill).

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Say Hello to Mo Williams

Because not only is he a hand in glove fit for what this team is doing now, and what our team can be transitioning to in the future -- but say hello to Mo Williams because it's good to have him back home. And after all, he's going to be here for a long while.

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