Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
How good is Marvin Williams? We don't know, which makes the Utah Jazz's trade for him especially interesting.
The Utah Jazz are clearly a team in transition. Looking at their roster, you'd expect another shoe to drop at some point. In the meantime, though, they made a couple of moves to help address their perimeter shooting weakness. Let's analyze those moves.
ACQUIRED MARVIN WILLIAMS FOR DEVIN HARRIS
This was an interesting trade because nobody really knows if Marvin Williams is any good. There's no doubt that Williams has not come close to living up to his draft position, but the jury is still out on whether he can be a useful NBA player. He's had plenty of chances with the Atlanta Hawks, but those years really weren't as instructive as they should have been. Now, it's on the Jazz to crack the Williams code.
At this point, it seems like Williams is a jack-of-all-trades, master-at-none type of player. He's a decent three-point shooter, hitting 39 percent from downtown last year, but he's been worse in previous years. He's a decent rebounder for his position, a decent cutter, a serviceable defender and an OK enough isolation player when he's been given chances.
Bigger-picture, his PER has hovered between 13 and 16 for the five years. It's hard to get more average than that. Worse, because he doesn't really have a strength, coaches have trouble figuring out what to do with him. I sympathize with Mike Woodson and Larry Drew to a degree, because it's not like they could easily point to Williams and say, "You're good at this, so we're going to design our offense to put you in that position more often than not."
Then again, perhaps Williams just needed more of an opportunity to exceed whatever minor role he was assigned in Atlanta. We all know Joe Johnson dominated the ball, and any opportunities that Johnson didn't get went to Josh Smith and Al Horford. So much of the Hawks' offense in recent years was Johnson going one on five and everyone else standing around to space the floor. The Jazz's offense, traditionally, has been much more fluid, which means Williams should have more opportunity to cut into open space and run the wings in transition. Maybe that is his calling. If so, the Jazz are a good place to see it in action.
The problem is that we just don't know. The Jazz were very thin at small forward last year, so on some level I understand the trade. I just think Devin Harris is a better player with a better contract, and I don't quite see the logic of dealing that in the hopes that Williams is the perfect small forward for this system. It just seems like too much of a risk to assume.
ACQUIRED MO WILLIAMS VIA TRADE
The Jazz basically got Williams for free, using a trade exception to wedge their way into a three-way arrangement with the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers. In that sense, the move was a success. Williams certainly addresses the Jazz's perimeter shooting weakness, and he's off the books after the year.
However, I am a bit skeptical that Williams can run Ty Corbin's offense as intended. He's always been more of a pick-and-roll specialist, and Corbin will likely want to call several post-ups for his bigs. A more creative passer would be a better fit.
Then again, the Jazz are clearly a team in transition. Williams can keep the seat warm at point guard for a year until the Jazz can find somebody better.
SIGNED RANDY FOYE
Foye has the same issue as Williams, but he's signed for significantly less and won't be expected to carry as heavy a role. On the one hand, I would expect Foye to play some backup point guard to make room for Alec Burks, which may hurt his value. On the other hand, he's another excellent perimeter shooter on a team that badly needs them. Whatever he lacks as a playmaker, he'll make up as a shooter.
LET C.J. MILES AND JOSH HOWARD GO
Two sound decisions that became no-brainers after the trade for Marvin Williams. Miles has ability and could blossom in Cleveland, but he could never be a consistent producer for the Jazz and had several chances to seize the moment. Howard just isn't the same player he once was, and he was taking court time away from DeMarre Carroll, who could do all of the things the Jazz wanted Howard to do anyway.
OFFSEASON GRADE: C+