| Shammond Williams 2001-02 Scouting Report

2000-01 In Review: Shammond Williams was the odd man out most of last season in what was a very crowded Sonic backcourt. After a strong showing at the end of the 99-00 season, Williams came into the season as the primary backup for all-world point guard Gary Payton. However, Emanual Davis, who had kept Williams on the pine for most of the previous season, returned to the Sonics in a late-October waiver claim. For the first month of the season, Williams and Davis split time as the backup point. After Nate McMillan took over as Sonic head coach, Williams was relegated to fifth guard status while Davis became a starter. When he did get in the game, Williams continued to display the talents that have endeared him to Seattle fans, if not the coaches. He finished third in the NBA in three point shooting (though he was somewhat overlooked because fellow backourt backup Brent Barry lead the league), and demonstrated improvement in his ability to run an offense. When injuries knocked both Barry and Davis out during an East Coast road trip, Williams especially shined, scoring double figures and knocking down a game winner to beat Cleveland in overtime.

Previous NBA Career: A draft day trade sent Williams from the Bulls to Atlanta, where he found a less than ideal situation for his talents, as Mookie Blaylock and Steve Smith played heavy minutes as the starters. Combined with Lenny Wilkens' reluctance to use rookies, Williams found playing time hard to come by. Midway through the season, he asked for his release to be granted, and completed the campaign in Turkey. Despite the disappointing freshman effort, Williams found a willing free agent taker in the Seattle Sonics, who gave him a three year deal with a player option after the second season. In Seattle, Williams battled another free agent pickup, Davis, for the right to about 10 minutes per night as the backup to Payton. After a less-than-stellar preseason, Williams found playing time hard to come by during the early season, and his occasional afro was more of a story than his play. Towards the end of the season, Davis suffered from a facial problem which caused the left side of his face to stiffen, and was forced to the sidelines. This give Williams the shot that he needed, and he demonstrated phenomenal scoring ability. After an April 10 game at the Lakers in which Shammond scored a career-high 28 and lead a Sonic comeback, he was inserted into the starting lineup in place of Barry. The Sonics went on to clinch the seventh playoff seed with Williams' help, and he continued starting during the first two playoff games against the Jazz.

Shooting/Scoring: The book on Williams is that he's strictly an outside shooter, but this is not the case. He displays a soft touch on midrange floaters off the dribble drive, an option that's frequently open because of not only his jumper but also his tremendous quickness. In the paint, Williams' finishing ability is not as strong, though his ups allow him to get to the rim. From the perimeter, Williams can be devestating, as he finished third in the NBA in three-point shooting. He is also not strictly a three-point specialist, but can also take a step inside the line and gain accuracy. Free throw shooting was not a strength during Shammond's first season in Seattle, but last season he stepped it up to the tune of around 85%. Grade: B+

Floor Game: Naysayers are particularly apt to pointing out that Williams is incapable of being an NBA point guard, with complaints that he is too agressive, makes too many mistakes, looks for his own shot too quickly, and overdribbles. While all of these are valid to one degree or another, Williams has clearly improved his ability to run an offense, something he wasn't asked to do at North Carolina while playing alongside Ed Cota. For a player who makes too many mistakes, Williams' assist/turnover ratio (around 2.3) was rather impressive. Though not up to the 2.7 standard for points, this was far better than the 1.7 average for off guards. Given time, Shammond is capable of becoming an above-average distributor for a reserve point, and an adequate one for a starter. Grade: C+

Rebounding: Rebounding is far from a focus for Williams, and he is below average even given the time he spends on the perimeter. With his leaping ability, Williams probably should do better, but unless a coach down the line decides to make this a focus for Shammond, he likely never will. Grade: D

Defense: Like teammate Barry, Williams has all the tools to be a fine defensive player -- excellent foot speed, quickness, good hands -- but despite his schooling from the master at UNC, defense has never really clicked for Shammond. If he really focused -- I mean really focused -- on defense, Williams could probably be a lockdown defender. However, this has not been the case. He does a good job of keeping his man in front of him, but provides little else. His steal totals are embarrasing low for a point. Grade: C

Intangibles: A mixed bag. Williams will drive coaches nuts with his style of play (as in a particularly memorable scene two Februarys ago in Utah where a missed shot bounced out to Williams near the free throw line and he did not notice the shot clock had been reset and shot a triple instead of running clock with about 30 seconds left in the game and the Sonics up one. Then-coach Paul Westphal placed his hands over his eyes in horror, but lo and behold, Williams banked it in to secure a victory. On the other hand, Williams has worked hard to develop his shot since entering the NBA. His leadership ability does not seem particularly strong, but he takes care of his own business. Grade: B-

Overall: In many ways, Williams is reminiscent of another former Sonic reserve, Dana Barros. Just like Barros, the knock on Williams is that he is a shooting guard in a point's body. Barros has fashioned a solid career that now spans 12 NBA seasons by playing mostly as a third guard capable of playing both positions and providing instant offense off the bench. Of course, many forget that Barros had a peak period in Philadelphia where he averaged 20+ points and 8 assists per ballgame as a starting point. Williams is perhaps more talented than Barros, and easily capable of similar numbers if the starter for a weak team. On a good team, Williams is a backup, but even then a very capable one and an asset. The problem is that Shammond is stuck on entirely the wrong team for his talents. With Gary Payton on board, Williams will not receive much playing time in the near future, and his skill set is virtually identical to Barry's -- although slightly worse in almost all aspects. Additionally, Coach McMillan is looking for a reserve point who is more defensively-minded and can run an offense (ie a clone of himself as a player) -- this is not Shammond. Nevertheless, as a restricted free agent, Williams did not control his own destiny. With neither side able to find another home -- the Sonics a team who would deal for Williams in a sign and trade and Williams a team to pay him more than the Sonics were willing to -- Williams returned to Seattle on a three year deal starting at two million per season in early October. Grade: C+

December 1 Update: When it appeared he would finally be guaranteed regular playing team, disaster struck Williams, as he suffered a broken finger on his left (non-shooting) hand. He missed the season's first three weeks, and, in his absence, Earl Watson's fine play meant Williams no longer had a lock on the backup point role. Williams has been playing the first half of games, Watson the second, but it appears that Williams' minutes may evaporate entirely soon. When he has been in the game, Williams has struggled with his shot, making less than 35% from the field early on. Watson looks like the long-term guy; a trade is a very real possibility for Shammond.

January 1 Update: While spotty minutes may be to blame, Williams' play has evidently regressed during his fourth NBA season. Aside from some sharp shooting during a pair of garbage time appearences, Williams continues to shoot miserably, and has done little in other areas to make up for it.

February 1 Update: For the first time all season, Williams began receiving regular playing time late in the month of January, replacing Watson as the backup point. His shooting also has recovered, with his three-point shooting nearing its stellar level of last season. However, just before the end of the month Williams returned to the bench due to his regression in terms of pure point guard ability.

March 1 Update: After getting back into the rotation in January, Williams' playing time was cut drastically in the month of February. Near the end of the month, he began to split time with Watson at the point, but still played only 47 minutes in the month. The same problems -- overdribbling, shooting too early in a possession, defense -- continued to plague Williams.

April 1 Update: With Watson going down with a separated shoulder early in the month, Williams re-entered the Sonic rotation. Instead of reclaiming his job, Williams continued to display the weaknesses which cost him the job in the first place. His inability to defend opposing guards was a significant factor in a three-game losing streak, and thereafter Williams lost his job to CBA pickup Randy Livingston. He did, however, close the month with a pair of strong performances.