Shammond Williams: A quick look

Kurt —  July 10, 2006

I was holding off on writing about this because I couldn’t believe the Lakers were actually going to go after him — this is as illogical a move as the Lakers have made in my memory. Let’s quote from regular commenter here Xavier, who lives in Barcelona (where Shammond played last season)

ACB (Spanish league) is the strongest domestic league in Europe and it’s doubtful that if a player can’t play great basketball or show potential there, he (would be able to) contribute in the NBA. And Shammond was just above average playing the PG. Sergio Rodriguez played better than him, he’s younger and was drafted 1 spot after Farmar. This season Shammond was a shoot first player who wasn’t a great defender and who had some important turnovers… I think that Wafer will play a better basketball for the Lakers than Williams, and Wafer it’s not the answer so imagine…

Despite Xavier’s and other’s pleas, signing Shammond was the hot rumor at the Summer Pro League and then in a radio interview Saturday Mitch Kupchak said he expected Smush would be the starting point guard next year. He added that they would be signing a veteran guard next week. That seemed like a hint to me (although reports are the Lakers will have to compete with Olympiacos of Greece for Williams services).

The first thing I wanted to write was that this kind of signing would be unprecedented for LA, but Eric Pincus reminded me that the Lakers signed Corry Blount to a deal before last season, then he never played a minute. So the Lakers have precedent in making questionable moves for veterans at the end of the bench. Great.

Why Shammond? Maybe the Lakers only remember his 28-point game against them in April of 2001. Maybe Mitch Kupchak was looking to bring in someone he could talk Tarheel basketball with. Maybe Mitch had an epiphany. Whatever the case if he’s going to be our guy, what do we know about Williams? For help I turned to — and got some unsolicited thoughts — from people who saw more of him and remember him.

The good news: He can shoot the rock from the three (36.3% for his career, in 2000-01 he shot 45.9%) and is really a two masquerading as a point, which should fit well with the triangle. He has a good work ethic. Also, word is he is a very good person, easy to talk to.

The bad news: Let me borrow a phrase from Gary (one of the moderators over at CelticsBlog who played college ball himself and competed against Williams at pickup games): He’s a poor man’s Smush Parker. He said the two have a similar skill set but Williams does not have Smush’s great hops.

Defensively, he seems to have somewhat improved over time based on his numbers, but he had plenty of room to improve. Let me quote the 2001 season wrap on him from Sonics Central (thanks to Kevin Pelton for the link):

On a poor defensive team, Williams was probably the Sonics’ worst defender. Despite excellent speed, for whatever reason (lack of defensive intensity?) he does little to stop opposing guards on the perimeter.

Not that perimeter defense was supposed to be an off-season priority for the Lakers or anything. His numbers seemed to get better a few years later: playing a backup role in Orlando in 03-04 he held opposing guards to shooting 42.4% (eFG%) and a PER of 13.2, nice numbers that were close to what he did after being traded to New Orleans midseason (opposing points shot just 36.6% against him there). In Boston in 02-03 it was 43.5% against him, then in Denver the second half of that season it rose to 51.6%. But remember, while those numbers aren’t bad they were against backups in 14 minutes a game or so.

If you think his defense is good, go re-read Xavier’s quote at the top of this piece again.

Williams offensive game isn’t bad, he had a career PER of 13.1 and true shooting percentage of 51.3%. Each season more than 80% of his attempts were jump shots and he shoots those well — which is why, if you squint, you can see him in the triangle as a spot-up guy.

While Williams can shoot the rock, one thing he apparently is known for is over dribbling, eating up the shot clock while not running the offense. He also gained the reputation in Seattle as a gunner who would shoot first and ask questions later, something that apparently hasn’t changed. Those are two qualities Phil loves in his triangle point guard. What could go wrong?

In Seattle, they wanted Williams to step in and be Gary Payton’s backup. He got beat out at various times by Emanuel Davis, Randy Livingston and Earl Watson. He bounced around and the league for a couple more years — four teams in two years is never a good sign — then had to get paid in Europe.

If he’s in Laker colors I’ll pull for him, but I don’t see what Williams brings to the table the Lakers don’t already have — and spare me the “he’s a veteran” line because that works fine for Eric Snow, who had skills and can now compensate for them (somewhat) with basketball IQ, but Williams never had that level of skills and has been out of the league two years.

Why bring in a guy that, based on what I’ve seen and read, Farmar will likely be beating out for playing time by the middle of the season?