HAWKSVILLE – The questions rolled off the tongue much easier than the answer.
I asked Marvin Williams the other day, “Who are you as a player, what’s your profile around the league?”
After rubbing his head for a second and smiling, Williams looked me dead in the eye and said, “I don’t worry about stuff like that. You’d have to ask someone else about that.”
Good idea Marv.
A quick phone call to a friend (a NBA All-Star turned pundit these days) offered up an interesting answer.
“Marvin Williams is their x-factor,” he said. “He’s the key to their season if you ask me. I think Marvin has to be the guy because he’s a 6-9, 240-pound guy that plays what I think is the most crucial position in the league these days. Whatever position the best player in the league plays, every guy on every other team that plays that spot becomes even more important. When MJ (Michael Jordan for you Y2K babies) ruled the league every shooting guard in the league instantly became more important. The same goes for all the small forwards now that LeBron is the man. So if Marvin can get to another level this year, the Hawks really have a chance to make some noise.”
That’s fine. And it’s a great discussion for another day. But it didn’t answer my initial question about Marvin’s game, which to me seems like an interesting mix of inside and out (more mid-range than post with a little 3-point wrinkle added last season) with a chance for so much more. So I pressed on, asking again for a definitive statement about what kind of player Marvin is in the eyes of a guy that’s played the game at a high level.
“Well, his game is hard to describe because I don’t know that he’s that easily categorized. The Hawks have never really asked him to fit into a specific hole as a shooter or rebounder or whatever,” my friend said. “I always felt like he had a chance to be a Jamal Mashburn-type player, a big guy that could work you off the dribble from the wing and finish with a jumper or push his man closer to the basket and finish there. But his handles have never impressed me. He was more of a situational shooter before last season, and those guys tend to drift in and out of games depending on who they’re playing with. But he opened my eyes last season with the 3-point shooting. I saw him early in the year when the Hawks started 6-0 and he was shooting the lights out and I felt like he had a chance to really break out, but he gradually eased up from out there as the season went on. He has to keep attacking from all over the floor offensively and hold his ground defensively. As far as who he is as a player, I think the jury is still out on him. And that’s a good thing. He’s still in the early stages of his career where he can define that for himself. This is a huge year for him individually. He can answer a lot of questions by showing he’s more of a consistent force than he’s been in his first few years.”
Most everyone I’ve spoken to about Williams since the summer, when he signed a new five-year deal with the Hawks, has echoed similar sentiments, the gist being that Williams still has room to grow and improve. I just wonder if how much of that we’ll get to see on a team where he’ll remain a third or fourth option on the offensive end of the floor.
KG IS WELCOME, TOO
Now that Zaza Pachulia is in the restaurant business, I expect the culinary jokes to become commonplace around here (fire away, Zaza’s thick skinned and a good sport).
Naturally, I kicked off the clowning last week while we sat in his spot (Eno By Zaza) for an interview.
“So is Kevin Garnett welcome here?” I asked, wondering aloud whether or not their nose-to-nose playoff dance from a couple years back was still a sore spot for both men.
After laughing for a few minutes, the always gracious Zaza welcomed not only Garnett but anyone in the world named Kevin or Garnett to frequent his spot. ”On the court, I’m always going to compete and fight hard,” Pachulia said. “Off the court, is another story. I hope Kevin Garnett comes to eat here. It would be great to see.”
Spoken like a true entrepreneur.
HOOP DREAMERS BEWARE
Utah Flash coach Brad Jones dropped in for a training camp visit last week and will return to Atlanta next week on more business. The Flash, the Hawks’ D-League affiliate, will be holding a one-day tryout at Athletics and Fitness Center at Clayton State University Oct. 24 at 10 a.m.
The flash have selected at least two players from the open tryout to attend their training camp in each of the past two seasons. Jones said Wednesday afternoon that as many as 17 players will attend training camp with the team in Salt Lake City.
Jones said the one-day tryout is open to all comers, provided they register (the fee is $150 in advance and $175 on the day of camp) as well as a player release and eligibility form. Registration can be completed online (and the forms can be found on the team’s official website).
The Flash will begin preseason training camp Nov. 15 before traveling to Tulsa for their first regular season game on Nov. 27.
Who knew Josh Smith was the funniest NBA player of his time? He’s always kept me in stitches, but now he’s finding his way to the web in one hilarious video after another. He actually shows off some real acting chops in his new one-man spot that’s popped up online. His latest (courtesy of our friends at adidas, via a nice assist from my main man MS):
The nickname game is heating up with the regular season just around the corner.
OG member Big Ray is campaigning vigorously to tag rookie point guard Jeff Teague with the moniker “JT0″ (pronounced “Jay Tee Oh,” in reference to his initials and uniform number while also paying homage to the classic Pontiac sports car [GTO], per Nire).
Nire has taken it a couple steps further with a pre-made theme song (which I think needs a hip-hop edge for a youngster like Teague):
I’m more inclined to watch this Teague mix:
Hawks and Grizz tonight at 8 from the Bluff City, in case you forgot.