He has in fact become a prime component of the rotation. Signing first with the Knicks as a training camp invitee, Williams did more than enough to be recognized by D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh, who originally selected Williams in the first round of the 2006 NBA Draft while in charge of the Indiana Pacers.
Though Williams has experienced some off-court difficulties since being drafted, he set to bounce back with the Knicks. Viewed as one of the team’s best shooters in practice, Williams nabbed the team’s fifteenth and final roster spot.
Although it may have taken D’Antoni a while to uncover his offensive gem off the bench, Williams’ spot in the rotation was cemented when he started off December with three consecutive double-digit scoring efforts.
Since then, Williams has become a regular in D’Antoni’s shorter rotation, which is usually only known to include up to eight or nine players. His clutch offense will surely become even more valuable in the absence of Danilo Gallinari, who is expected to miss two to three weeks of play with a knee injury.
While this season has seen the offense of players like Wilson Chandler and Gallinari improve due to more attacking the basket (and drawing the foul), D’Antoni’s offensive set still often needs that fluent three-point shooter in the corner. That’s where Shawne Williams comes in.
Praised as an extremely pure shooter, Williams has continuously been showcased this season, consistently receiving passes and sinking three pointers from either side. Simply put, he has been called to do what he does best (shoot the long ball) every time he’s on the court. The coaching staff’s confidence in Williams has been contagious, as he seems to shoot the ball with no doubt that his shots will fall.
As Knicks’ color commentator Walt “Clyde” Frazier noted during the Knicks’ decisive win over the league-best San Antonio Spurs Tuesday night, Williams still has a lot more than an efficient three-ball in his repertoire. In addition to playing with more confidence, Williams been quite the smart player on the court. He plays well with his teammates and can make the extra pass if required.
Furthermore, his defense has been an added bonus for the Knicks. As D’Antoni often opts to play smaller lineups, Williams can sometimes be found playing power forward, forcing him to defend opponents’ taller players. His lengthy 6'9" frame has helped him muscle up to other big men and fight for rebounds.
While Williams’ seasonal averages may not do the impact he has on the court full justice (he is averaging 5.9 points and 2.3 rebounds through 17 games), he is shooting a highly efficient and very impressive 38 of 69 from beyond the arc this season, good for a 60 percent shooting percentage.
Whether he pours in 15 points, or simply just makes a bucket or two, Williams’ efficiency has made him an instant threat every time he steps on the court. Becoming that threat has helped Williams make the Knicks a deeper team overall, too. Opponents are beginning to understand that if you leave him open, Williams will hurt them. If teams fully start to have that mentality against the Knicks, it should mean fewer double-teams to guys in the post, like Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire.
Though Williams obviously is not simply a numbers guy, he has nevertheless gone on a tear to close out 2010 and start the new year with a bang.
Over the last seven games, Williams has averaged 8.3 points and 3.9 rebounds, while recording just under one block per game. The Knicks have gone 4-3 during that same stretch, with two of those losses coming in tough fought battles against the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.
It’s certainly been quite the journey for Williams, but with an emphatic one-handed dunk along the baseline against Antonio McDyess and the Spurs, he continued to prove, that like the Knicks: Shawne Williams is back!