A Marvelous Leader and Professional, Marvin Williams Gearing Up for Season #15

by Sam Perley

Over the course of his five-year tenure with the Charlotte Hornets, forward Marvin Williams has been one of the team’s most consistent, reliable players and also one of its primary veteran leaders inside the locker room.

So, it should come as no surprise that the soon-to-be 33-year-old is prepping for what will be a 15th NBA season. Although his on-court role may alter a touch next year, a player of Williams’ stature will continue to be immensely valuable to an organization that is heavily emphasizing player development.

“It’s such a blessing,” said Williams on April 11 when asked about playing a decade and a half in the league. “I don’t know if you payed much attention to the Cleveland game [two days ago], but to see Channing Frye retire - he and I came in together. I remember he hosted me on my visit to Arizona. It was really kind of cool to see him go out that way and the reception that he got from the fans in Cleveland.”

He followed up with, “Obviously, it did make me think about my own personal career a little bit. I want to play as long as I can possibly do it, but only God knows. Lord willing, I continue to stay healthy. I’m always going to work as hard as I can to keep myself healthy and we’ll see where it goes from there. I’m looking forward to next year being number 15.”

Williams started the 2018-19 campaign in a relative cold spell, averaging just 7.3 PPG on 39.8% shooting (28.4% from 3P) over his first 16 outings. A four-game stretch with a least three three-made pointers from Dec. 7-14 helped get things back on track and one week later, he finished with 24 points and a career-high seven long-distance makes in a home win over Detroit.

Towards the end of the month, Williams began a career-best stretch of 32 consecutive games with at least one three-point field goal, matching the fourth-longest such streak in team history. In the second-to-last outing of this run on March 8, Williams recorded his first 30-point game since 2011 and tied his career high with another seven threes in a home win over Washington.

A nagging right foot issue began flaring up more often starting in mid-March and eventually forced Williams to make his last regular season appearance on April 1 with just five games remaining on the schedule. Despite the ailment, he still made it through 75 outings, a mark he’s now reached each of his five years in Charlotte.

“He gave us everything he had out there,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego. “He is a warrior. The number one thing is he is a leader, he anchors that locker room. He gives us a wonderful professionalism out there every single night.”

He added, “I think there were times he probably ran too long, too hard. I tried to give him nights off, [but] the guy just would not take a night off. I think I have to do a better job next season with Marvin there, almost demanding, forcing him to take time off. We did it in practice, we did it in off days, but there are moments throughout the season where I will have to rest him and conserve those legs and make sure he stays fresh throughout the season.

The UNC product finished the year with averages of 10.1 PPG on 42.2% shooting, 5.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.9 SPG and 0.8 BPG. Only Blake Griffin, Jae Crowder and Marcus Morris made more threes amongst NBA power forwards this season than Williams did (140 on 36.6% shooting).

He also crossed off a pair of personal milestones with his 10,000th career point coming in Oklahoma City on Nov. 23 and his 1,000th game taking place in Brooklyn on March 1. Williams now sits third in franchise history in career three-point field goals (637), sixth in defensive rebounds (1,760), seventh in total rebounds (2,184) and tenth in steals (312) and blocks (265).

Like a few other Hornet players, Williams took on some different roles under a new Head Coach in Borrego. Last year, 98% of his on-court time was at the power forward position, but this season, he saw just 78% of his action at the four and 22% as a small-ball-lineup center.

“Obviously, here in the past, there were guys who you might not spend nearly as much time with on the court. This year, you could have been on the court with anybody,” Williams said. “I felt like that was one of the strengths of our team. We got a lot of guys that can play a lot of different positions, including myself. I think it shows how versatile our team is. It shows how much faith that our coach has in us as players. I think we’ll all continue to get better and I’m sure we’ll see some of the same things next year.”

It’s not always easy to accept change, particularly when things have been done a particular way for some time in an organization. The receptiveness of not only Williams, but also Jeremy Lamb, Nic Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tony Parker, Miles Bridges and Frank Kaminsky to take on different responsibilities throughout the season speaks to the selflessness on the roster.

“It’s a credit to those guys. They bought in to what we’re trying to do here,” stated Borrego. “They’ve been playing a certain way or had certain roles for years now. It says to me that they believe in me and they believe in the system, our staff. They believe in our organization. Not one time did I feel that there was backlash from any one of these guys. I just think I’m blessed to have wonderful veterans, blessed to have those guys.”

And Marvin Williams is undoubtedly one of those wonderful veterans, indeed. A beacon of hard work, professionalism and leadership, he’ll surely be counted on by the Charlotte Hornets in more ways than one heading into next season.

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