Coming out of Louisville, Terrence Williams was regarded as a wacky kid that carried around a Barbie backpack with an outgoing personality and absolutely tremendous athletic abilities. At 6-foot-6, 215 pound, there was no question he was an NBA player. As a senior, he made his athleticism reflect through his play as he developed into the Cardinal’s most important player. In fact, Williams was the main reason that Rick Pitino’s squad received the number one overall seed as he was their leader on offense, on the boards, and on defense.
Despite a good opportunity, T-Will didn’t have a great rookie season. He averaged just eight points, five rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes a game. Like most rookies when they come into the league, Terrence has struggled with his outside shot, which is the main reason he shot just 40% from the floor. Williams has had some real problems hitting the NBA three even though he takes a a little more than one a game, he’s struggled adjusting to the Nets’ team defense, and he’s had a rough go of things just to get on the court. He looked like a D-League player, but since the Nets were so bad, they never ended up sending him there.
There’s not a whole lot of positive there but a lot of that can be blamed on the fact that Williams went from playing for one of the best team’s in the country to the worst team in the NBA. Plenty of players have made that transition brilliantly before but New Jersey had a different atmosphere last season and most of their players were disinterested until it was time to turn it on to avoid being the worst team in the history of the league. Of course, Williams didn’t miss the majority of his shots because his team was bad but the mindset of the team may have influenced him to let a couple more treys fly than he should have.
And with Williams, there is a lot of room for improvement. When the Nets focused on not finishing with the worst record in league history, which was at the beginning of March, Williams’ minutes and production increased. In 16 March games, Terrence averaged 14 points on 43% shooting with seven rebounds and five assists. Other than a 4-for-16 performance, most of Williams’ scoring outputs were efficient and he was able to reduce his turnovers with increased touches. In seven April games, Williams continued to show some growth. He averaged 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 34 minutes a game while shooting 46% from the field. In the middle of that late season run, Terrence had a spectacular 27-point (12-of-25 shooting), 13 rebound, 10 assist performance against the playoff hungry Chicago Bulls.
Williams has the ability to do this on a night-to-night basis. Obviously, I don’t expect him to average a triple-double, but he is capable of averaging a very complete line that will represent his ability to put points on the board, rebound the basketball and take over game’s as a playmaker.
As a scorer, Terrence still has a ways to go with his jumpshot, but his athleticism is unmatched by most even at the NBA level, which allows for him to attack the basket and finish with electrifying dunks. If they put this kid in the dunk contest this year, he would have easily won it. Easily. He’s very good at slashing to the lane but he needs to be reminded that this is his biggest strength sometimes. If the Nets drew up plays for this guy and got him cutting to the lane, nobody in the league is going to be able to contest him at the rim because of his ability to dunk over anybody and finish with either hand. Williams did a good job of attacking open lanes last season and once he got by the initial defender a highlight likely ensued.
With the ball in his hands, you’d think Terrence was a point guard as he is a great playmaker. He has a knack for drawing defenders when he enters the lane and is willing to pass out to the wing for the open three, he can run the pick and roll with a guy like Brook Lopez effectively, and he is excellent in transition with the basketball. His ball-handling skills are fantastic which helps him get by his defender and into the lane where he earns his points. During the NBA Summer League, this quality was brought out perhaps more than expected. Williams was finding his men in the perfect spots and getting his team into their offense more often than he was hoisting up a quick jumper. And when he did shoot, it went in, for the most part.
While his offensive abilities are nice, Williams can be most valuable to this Nets team on the defensive end. Terrence and Travis Outlaw will form a nice defensive duo for the Nets at SG/SF. Williams is thick, long and very athletic, making him a good player to put against any of the top perimeter scorers in the league. Pair that with the six-foot-nine Outlaw and you have a great combo. Terrence is very good at reading passing lanes and deflecting balls the opposition tries to pass the ball around him. Its on plays like these when Williams is most dangerous, because once he gets the ball in transition, there’s no stopping him.
On the glass, Williams has always excelled. Rebounding the ball was perhaps his most effective contribution in college other than the offense his athleticism created and he is one of the most talented and instinctive rebounders in the NBA for his size. He knows how to time his jumps, his ability to elevate makes it easier for him to hang in the air, and his long arms give him a long reach when going for the ball. At the small forward spot, Terrence ranked seventh in overall rebound rate by pulling down 11.4% of shots missed when he was on the floor. On the defensive glass, Williams ranked second only behind Gerald Wallace with a rebound rate of 20.6%.
I said before his rookie season started that I thought Williams could be a 16-8-5 guy at some point in his career. With the Nets dialed in to close out the year, William saw more consistent minutes and came pretty close to reaching those numbers. 20 or so games may be a small sample size but its not as if he is doing some out of the ordinary for him. He’s capable of replicating his production from the stretch run and with a new mindset individually and as a team thanks to the addition of Avery Johnson as the head coach, Terrence will have a chance to shine next season.