Things get heated over Mo Williams
There was a spirited discussion on "Talkin' Ball" Wednesday night about Mo Williams and his value to the Trail Blazers. It's what "Talkin' Ball" is all about and why we love the show.
I made the case that Williams' advanced stats did not indicate that he has great value as Portland's prime off-the-bench player. Let me make it clear that I believe Williams all season has been forced into a role that's not best for him. He's really not a point guard, even though that's been his prime position with Portland. He's much more a shooting guard. But the Blazers have no choice but to play him -- they don't, at this point, have anyone better.
The case was made for him on the show Wednesday that his best attribute is "getting his own shot" -- which is probably true. But that attribute is also what detracts from his talents as a point guard. Williams gets his own shot a lot better than he gets shots for anyone else.
I mentioned advanced stats on the show but did not have them handy at the time -- and frankly, stats on TV aren't necessarily enthralling programming.
But if you're interested, I'm here to tell you that Williams' numbers are not good. In fact, I think you might be surprised by what they show.
There are several websites that track teams' production with their individual players on and off the court. On 82games.com, which hasn't been updated since Jan. 5, you will notice that Williams' net production on the court is minus-5.5 -- even though, much more than any other Portland reserve, he quite often is playing with a lot of the team's starters. That's not horrible -- there are five players on the team with worse numbers in that category. But the money stat for Williams is how the team plays when he's NOT on the court.
When Williams is off the court, the Blazers are plus-9.6 -- which happens to be the highest number for any player on the entire roster. In other words, there's no one on the team who has a bigger positive Blazer impact by NOT playing than Williams.
The stats at NBA.com's media site are more detailed than what is available to the public so I'm not able to provide a link here. But as of Thursday morning, Williams' net off-the-court rating -- a combination of his offense and defense -- is the highest on the team. Again, those stats say there is no player on the roster the team plays better WITHOUT than Williams. He has a bigger positive impact on the game for the Blazers when he's off the court than anyone else on the team!
Portland is just five games away from the halfway point of the season so these numbers have a big enough sample size that they have merit. You may choose to not put much stock in such things, trusting your eyes to tell you the story of players' worth. That's fine. But to ignore meaningful advanced stats when evaluating players for potential trades and roster decisions would be risky, at best.
Williams said Wednesday he is certain he's going to opt out of his Portland contract at the end of the season. This might make him a desirable trade piece. My take on that is it's not a silly idea to explore the idea of trading him.
Yes, the Trail Blazers have won 75 percent of their games to date. But the bench hasn't had a lot to do with that -- and Williams is a part of that group.