Numbers Put Jason Williams Near the Top of Available Point Guards
LeBron James has visited with all five of his suitors -- New Jersey, New York, the Clippers, Cleveland and Chicago -- and will now ponder his decision for at least a day before deciding. Amar'e Stoudemire has a maximum contract offer from New York, but the Knicks are also reportedly eyeing Joe Johnson (who has a max offer from Atlanta) while courting Mike Miller as well before moving forward. Dwayne Wade's two visits with Chicago has everyone wondering if he might leave Miami to go home to the Windy City again, while there appear to be just two certainties about fellow unemployed star Chris Bosh: he wants max money, and he won't be heading back to Toronto.
But what do all these players have in common? None of them are point guards.
And when this wave retreats all the way back into the NBA ocean, these players will need quality point men to get them the shots they all deserve.
FanHouse's Chris Tomasson took a look at the slim point guard market in this piece, but former Orlando point guard and free agent Jason Williams barely earned a mention among the supposed also-rans. And truth be told, that's not a bad reflection of where his stock is at the moment.
There is an assumption around the league that Williams doesn't want to leave Florida, mainly because that's the message he sent back in 2008. He walked away from a one-year deal with the Clippers, announcing he would retire before attempting to get reinstated only to sit out a year after six of the league's teams voted against his immediate return (the vote had to be unanimous, per league bylaws).
Williams' wife and three kids were comfortable in Florida, where he was the starting point guard on Miami's championship team in 2006 and then an integral member of the 2009-10 Magic team that downed Charlotte in the first round of the playoffs, felled Atlanta, and then finally fell to Boston in the Eastern Conference finals. There's the age factor as a turnoff, too, as Williams will be 35 on Nov. 18 and is struggling to sell himself as Jason Kidd lite.
But surprising as it may be considering the subject of discussion, it appears Williams' game just isn't flashy enough anymore to draw the deserved attention. Nonetheless, it's indisputable that he is coming off one of the best seasons of any point guard on this market. And according to his agent, Dan Tobin, he fully expects to be treated accordingly.
"We think he had terrific year, and I think our retrospective on the year bears that out," said Tobin, who would not disclose which teams have shown interest.
Translation: he's not willing to play for the veteran's minimum salary like he did last season.
Tobin -- who believes Williams is in good enough shape to play four more years -- said Williams isn't restricting his option to the Sunshine State, saying, "It is free agency and we are certainly willing to listen." Orlando is certainly considering bringing Williams back, although general manager Otis Smith might continue in his attempts to land a bigger-name point guard first. New York is also believed to be interested.
The aforementioned retrospective on Williams' last season is quite convincing, with his production last season proving Tobin's point that Williams has evolved into a potent, pass-first point guard who scores efficiently when needed and -- most importantly -- limits turnovers:
• His assist ratio -- a statistic described by ESPN's John Hollinger as the percentage of possessions that result in an assist -- of 35.9 percent was tied with Steve Blake for tops among bench point guards (with players considered having played at least 62 games, with at least half of them coming from the bench). Blake, of course, on Friday agreed to sign with the Lakers for four years and a combined $16 million. Their shared assist ratio mark was seventh overall among point guards in the league.
• Williams had the best winning percentage among point guards who started at least 15 games, as he started 18 and went 14-4 (84.2 percent) when Jameer Nelson was hurt.
• Williams was second in the league among bench point guards in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.43), using the same previously-mentioned player parameters.
• Williams had career-bests in field goal percentage (44 percent), three-point percentage (38 percent), games played (82), and turnovers (1.1 per game) while averaging a career-low 20.8 minutes per game.
These are the sales jobs that go on this time of year. They're not quite the tidal waves of the LBJs, Wades, Stoudemires and the like, but the ripple effects will be felt next season all the same.