Grant Williams is in his fifth season now, and throughout he’s had a pretty well-defined offensive role: spot up and hit your open three pointers. It’s a formula that’s worked for the defensive-minded forward, earning himself a decent payday with the Mavericks this past summer.
In Williams’ first four years in Boston, there was little reason to deviate from his offensive repertoire, as he was a bench cog within the Celtics machine. He’s now a bonafide starter in Dallas, and a question was how much would his game expand. It didn’t have to — Williams is paid fairly and a good enough player as is. But he’s still only 25-years-old and it’s natural to wonder if there is any untapped potential.
So far, it appears the Mavericks coaching staff might agree. In the last few games, the Mavericks are trying something with Williams that he hasn’t done much before — acting as the release valve in pick and rolls and having the ball in his hands in 4-on-3 situations.
Williams didn’t finish many pick and rolls in Boston, which makes sense considering their roster at the time and his place in the pecking order. Now starting next to one of the premier pick and roll guards in the league, Williams is participating more in balls screens. At first that started with the standard pick and pops, and Williams has been making his above-the-break threes at a high rate. Lately though as teams get frustrated with Doncic’s hot start, Williams has been the outlet for Doncic when teams decide to trap or double Doncic off pick and rolls.
I first noticed this in the blowout win against Clippers, although Williams didn’t get an assist out of those situations but he did move the ball well.
He still hasn’t wracked up a ton of assists from these scenarios, but the fact that the Mavericks are using it and trusting Williams to make the right read feels like something the team wants to keep building on.
This is an interesting development because while historically Doncic has handled double-teams well, how his teammates have handled it has been a Achilles heel. Dallas hasn’t had a consistent playmaker in the roll man spot. Playmaker is probably too much — just someone that can make the correct play. You don’t need your screener to have point guard skills, but you do need them to be able to maintain composure on the catch and make the right decision. Dwight Powell has probably been the best of the bunch over the years at making plays out of the short roll for Dallas, and his lack of shooting adds some limitations.
Williams isn’t a ferocious attacker of the rim, but his does have a good jumper and seemingly a good head on his shoulders for making these plays. Historically, he isn’t much of a passer, averaging just a little over one assist per game for his career. Against the Wizards, Williams set a career-high with seven assists, although only just one was in the 4-on-3 situation out of a pick and roll.
It’s great to see the Mavericks try new things. The increased pace is the talk of the town, along with the impact the new faces have made immediately. Williams was brought to Dallas primarily to shore up a bad defense, but the offense can’t be forgotten. The Mavericks cannot make a deep playoff run if Doncic and Kyrie Irving are the only two players that can do anything with the ball in their hands. If this experiment works with Williams, it unlocks much more possibilities.