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Grant Williams knows he needs to be better down the stretch for Mavericks

“The second half has got to be better than the first half,” Williams said in a pregame interview Monday.

New Orleans Pelicans v Dallas Mavericks
Grant Williams #3 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates after making a 3-pt basket during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at American Airlines Center on January 15, 2024 in Dallas, Texas.
Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

Grant Williams hears you, and he assures you, he’s on it.

In a pregame interview Monday at the American Airlines Center, Williams offered some pretty candid thoughts about his first season as a Dallas Maverick and how it’s going so far.

First, statistically speaking, here’s how it’s going at the moment. Williams is averaging 8.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in just over 26 minutes per game this year, and both of those numbers, if he keeps them for the season, would represent career highs through his first five seasons. His efficiency hasn’t been great this year, as Williams is shooting just 41.9% from the field and 36.9% on his 3-point attempts.

In response to a softball lobbed in his direction by Jeff “Skin” Wade, the third wheel on the Bally Sports Southwest broadcast, about how things were going in Williams’ first year in a Mavs’ uniform, Williams said:

“I’m still adapting — let’s just say that. I can be better. Gotta be better for this team, especially to take us where we need to be. That’s really my main focus. The second half of the season has got to be better than the first. Can’t really focus on the past — got to focus on the future.”

He said that nearly unprovoked. Skin gave Williams a wide berth to give a rote, robotic answer about taking it one game at a time, but instead he gave us something real. Something a little more candid — and we appreciate that. If that quote isn’t the sound of a man who can hear Mavs fans yelling at him through their television sets on a near-nightly basis, I don’t know what is.

He knows he needs to be better and that if he can kick it into a higher gear in the second half of the season, it would go a long way to helping the Mavs surprise some people come playoff time.

The move to Dallas in the offseason meant Williams would be getting his first chance to consistently start in the NBA. The idea was for him to continue his development into a premier 3-and-D wing, but at times this year, it seems like Williams is spinning his wheels out there with bonehead turnovers, unnecessary fouls and regression in his shooting touch.

Dante Exum replaced him in the starting lineup in December, as the two players’ arrows seemed to be moving in opposite directions at the time. Williams has been back-and-forth, in and out of the starting lineup during the Mavs’ recent bout with injuries, including during the past nine games, when Exum has been out with a sprained plantar fascia.

If Williams can become a dependable piece down the stretch for the Mavericks, it would have much the same effect for Dallas as a win at the trade deadline. Turning over a new leaf starts with a good performance against the team he spent his first four seasons in the league with: the Boston Celtics.

“It’s going to be a competitive night,” Williams said in his pregame interview. “Just because we’re friends doesn’t mean we’re not going to battle. It’s going to be fun.”

Editor’s note: Grant Williams is 0-2 and a -10 half way through the second quarter at the time of publication