The Portland Trail Blazers have started the 2013 season much better than maybe some had anticipated. Typically a middle-of-the-pack team, the Blazers began the season by winning four of six games including a win over the 2012 Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs.
How are they doing it?
The Blazers rank 5th in the NBA in assists, but no one on the team is averaging more than 5.8 per game. Translation? Team basketball is at the core of what the Blazers are doing so far — a great sign.
One player, though, has held the Blazers back from being even greater than they could be at the moment: Backup point guard Mo Williams.
Williams was brought in to be a backup to Damian Lillard until rookie C.J. McCollum can return from injury and adjust to the NBA-level style of play. Thus far, he hasn’t done much to help Portland.
With a PER (player efficiency rating) of just 7.1, Williams is dead last on the team in that category. Quite frankly, as a veteran, Williams should be ashamed of such a horrible number. The problem lies with what he’s doing with the ball offensively. He’s averaging 4.3 assists per game. That’s great, but he’s also averaging 2.0 turnovers per game.
Williams is taking nine shots each night, but only making under four baskets — a shooting percentage of 37 percent on the year. With guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Dorrell Wright and Nicolas Batum all shooting above 44 percent — some even over 50 — why is Williams taking so many shots?
He has got to start taking less shots and dishing it out to his teammates on a regular basis. He knows how to play point guard, so why isn’t he doing it in more of a pure fashion? Williams isn’t shooting the ball well at all, and honestly, the Blazers don’t need him to score. He was brought in to facilitate and get the ball to the guys that are more of a threat offensively — period.
Until Williams understands that his play on offense is holding the team back from where they could be, the Blazers won’t get better. In fact, they might regress. Getting more selfless play out of Williams will be a key going forward.