By Natalie Breneman and Sam Perley, hornets.com
After resigning with the organization last summer, Marvin Williams compiled yet another season full of high-level defense and range shooting for the Charlotte Hornets over the course of the 2016-17 NBA campaign. Despite now having a full 12 seasons in the league under his belt, Williams continues to provide the team with not only outstanding play on the court, but invaluable leadership and intangibles off of it.
Welcome Back Marvin
The Hornets first-string power forward kicked off the season with a double-double in the team’s season-opening 107-96 road win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 26, tallying 13 points and 10 rebounds. Over his first 15 total games of the season, Williams recorded averages of 9.9 points on 33.6 percent shooting (34.1 percent from three-point range), 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists through Nov. 25. During this stretch, Williams recorded a pair of double-doubles and tied a career high with five made three-pointers in a 104-98 home win over the Utah Jazz on Nov. 9.
Rare Injury for Williams
Midway through Charlotte’s 113-111 overtime road loss to the New York Knicks on Nov. 25, Williams made his way to the locker room with what was later diagnosed as a hyperextended left knee. This ailment forced Williams to miss six total games, one more than he sat out in his first two seasons with the Hornets combined.
He returned on Dec. 7, putting up averages of 10.8 points on a much-improved 45.8 percent shooting (37.7 percent from three-point range), 4.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steal in 13 starts through the end of December.
New Year’s Resolution
The beginning of the new calendar year brought with it a jump in Williams’ averages as he tallied 11.8 points on 42.7 percent shooting, 6.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists in his next 22 appearances heading into the All-Star Break. He racked up a then season-high 21 points in a 108-98 road loss to the Boston Celtics on Jan. 16 and also drained another career-high-tying five three-pointers in a 110-107 road loss to the New York Knicks on Jan. 27.
Williams also connected on at least one three-pointer in a career-high 25-consecutive games from Dec. 16, 2016-Feb. 4, 2017, the second-longest single-season streak by any Hornets player since the start of the 2011-12 NBA campaign.
The 30-year-old Williams eventually exploded into the second half of the season, tallying averages of 11.6 points on 45.7 percent shooting, 8.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 block in his final 26 appearances. Of the career-high 11 double-doubles that Williams recorded this season, eight of them came after March 1.
Williams’ best performance of the season came on March 10 when he totaled 12 points, a career-high 18 rebounds and a career-high-tying seven assists in a 121-81 home win over the Orlando Magic. It was the first time a Charlotte player had grabbed 18-or-more rebounds in a single regular season game since Al Jefferson did so on April 16, 2014.
The following night, Williams tallied a season-high 27 points and 10 rebounds in a 125-122 overtime home loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, matching his highest-scoring performance in any regular season game since the start of the 2012-13 NBA campaign. His next outing, Williams had another 18-rebound performance to go along with 13 points and five assists in a 115-109 home loss to the Chicago Bulls on March 13.
In 76 total games this season, Williams averaged 11.2 points on 42.2 percent shooting (35.0 percent from three-point range), a career-high 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists. He also knocked down 87.3 percent of his free-throw attempts this year, a new personal best and the highest mark of any qualified power forward in the NBA.
Amongst players with at least 10-or-more years of NBA experience, Williams, Cleveland’s LeBron James and Golden State’s Kevin Durant were the only ones to average at least 10.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 made three-pointers per game this season.
Williams also notched 124 total three-point field goals this year, marking the first time in his career he’s eclipsed the century mark in consecutive seasons. The former North Carolina Tar Heel currently sits in sixth place on the franchise’s all-time made three-pointers leaderboard (371).
2017-18 Season Outlook
Williams has a guaranteed contract for the next three seasons that runs through the 2019-20 NBA campaign. During player exit interviews on April 12, Williams reflected on the team’s late-season push and what it can improve upon next year.
“Obviously, we were trying to make the postseason and we kind of put ourselves in a little bit of a hole, so I think everybody’s mentality changed a little bit, including mine and we started to play a little bit better. Unfortunately, we fell a little bit short. I think if we start the season off [next year] with that mentality again we’ll put ourselves in a better position later on in the year.”
He added, “It’s always on the older guys [and] it’s always on the best players on the team [to set the competitive tone]. As one of the older guys, I definitely take responsibility for that. I’m going to have to do a better job of that next year, getting guys ready, getting guys going from the start, including myself. Then, hopefully, we’ll be having this meeting a little bit later on in the year. I feel like I worked extremely hard two summers ago, I worked hard last summer, I’m going to work hard this summer and I’ll be ready to go when the season starts next year, for sure.”