Player Review: Shawne Williams
Stats: 6.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 0.9 apg
Stats/36: 16.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.2 apg
How did he surprise?
Shawne Williams certainly had his ups and downs this year, sometimes within the same game. His playing time was also inconsistent due to a complicated combination of his play, off-court issues, and most importantly for Jim O'Brien, in-game match ups. But for a stretch of games in March, Shawne exposed all the upside you need to see to think he can be part of the solution for the Pacers. Active. Assertive. Shockingly unstoppable.
His signature performances came during fourth quarter crunch time in wins over Charlotte and Chicago, games that propelled the Pacers to their late season playoff run. Some crazy mix of desperation and frustration seemed to fuel Shawne as he dropped all his hoop inhibitions and just played like he had something to prove and would not be denied. The nice thing about his late game success was that it seemed to loosen up everyone else on the roster to get into the act. Where early in the season we were begging for someone, anyone, to step up and make some plays to close out wins, now Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy were ready to follow Shawne's lead. Really, the team dynamic and player expectations over the final month of the season improved drastically and Shawne's effort played a big part in that change.
I've always hoped that Shawne would develop into a next gen Eddie Johnson, playing a key role to keep the offense flowing. Well, some of Shawne's play this year showed he could indeed be a bigger, faster, stronger version of Johnson and if playing in the right frame of mind, could even impact the defensive end around the bucket.
How did he disappoint?
Aside from the surprising finish to the season, Shawne Williams frustrated me greatly this year. His off-court problems were disheartening because his role ended up being pretty minor when all was said and done, but the guys he was running with were no joke. They dragged him through a public flogging. My initial reaction was, enough, consider Shawne a lost cause for the Pacers. Time and perspective have changed my thinking about Shawne. He is 21 after all and all the money and responsibility in the world can't make up for life experience. I certainly wouldn't have wanted the public klieg lights flashed on my ten worst nights when I was 21, let alone two of them.
Is he a bad guy? I don't buy that line of thinking. In fact, maybe he's too nice. He doesn't want to turn up his nose at family and friends, his loyalty blinding him from seeing the big picture that regardless of his actions, those around him can drag him and his career down in a heartbeat. I don't know the guy but from all reports and personal observations, Shawne has the good-natured personality to blossom into a great asset on and off the court as he matures.
This is a player review, after all, so let's get back to the court. Shawne should be a good fit for JOB's system because of his ability to run the court and shoot the ball. I was disappointed his game hadn't developed more over the summer. His defense was lacking and often kept him on the bench throughout the year. It was apparent when Shawne struggled on the court that he was thinking way too much which impacted his whole game and limited his minutes.
This is a big summer for Shawne. I had concerns about his work ethic after not seeing big improvement at the beginning of the year. Those concerns were put to rest by the end of the year, though. JOB works these guys hard and with the big jump Shawne made at the end of the year, he was obviously putting in the work.
I've heard Mike Wells speculate that the Pacers could shore up their point guard situation by sending Shawne home to Memphis for one of their surplus young PGs, likely Kyle Lowry. From a straight basketball perspective, it makes sense for the Pacers, but I'm not sure Memphis would be the best place for Shawne right now. Trouble from Memphis tracked him down here, so it would obviously be more of a problem back home.
While Shawne could be a valuable trade asset, there's no need to give him away unless he's part of a great deal coming back. Instead the Pacers can let Shawne go to work to try and earn a solid spot in the playing rotation. A little more bulk would be nice, but in general, Shawnwe needs to develop his all-around game so when his number is called he has the confidence to hit the floor with clear head and just let his game take over. That should be enough to bring the home fans to their feet.