All of his teammates have established themselves among the top players in the league at their respective positions. Now it's turn for Marvin Williams to do the same.
"He's the one guy over the next two years that I think can really make the jump to become more of an elite scorer, mostly because he can put the ball on the floor and draw fouls," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "He added the three-point shot to his game last season and I think that pushed his game to another level. Now, he has to take another step."
Does that mean folks can expect to see a more aggressive and determined Williams this season?
"I think so," Williams said. "I've never been one to try and do too much. I've always felt like I know my role and I try to play the best I can. At the same time, I think this preseason I've tried to be more aggressive. And it's worked out.
"But it's really funny, whenever we lose a piece during the season it always seems like I'm the one that kind of steps into that spot. If I can figure out how to do that when we're at full strength, I think it will really help my team."
Williams has shown flashes of his scoring potential when the Hawks needed it most. Last season, with captain and All-Star Joe Johnson out sick for a two-game stretch in early February, Williams chimed in with two fantastic efforts in back-to-back road wins. He pounded Minnesota for 23 points and 10 rebounds in 94-86 win Nov. 4 and hammered Charlotte with a game-high 29 points and seven rebounds in a 102-97 win two nights later.
"That was one of the turning points of our season," Johnson said. "I was back here (in Atlanta) and I remember watching those games and thinking to myself, 'We've got to get Marvin playing like this all the time.' If we do, we're even tougher to deal with."
G Joe Johnson has proved over the last four years that he belongs among the league's elite shooting guards. But now he has to realize that he's on a much better team than he was four years ago and doesn't have to tote the entire offensive load on his own. That means his (scoring) numbers could go down and he could still have a monster season.
G Mike Bibby was one of the question marks in free agency over the summer. After saving the Hawks from oblivion two years ago, he finally can rest with a new three-year deal and the security of knowing that this is his team to run for the duration of his deal.
F Marvin Williams has been knocking on the door the past four years but injuries always seem to knock him down just when it appears that he's ready to blossom. The Hawks need a huge year out of their starting small forward and that starts with him getting lucky on the injury front and staying healthy for an entire season.
F Josh Smith was arguably the team's best player in the playoffs. He certainly held that distinction in the series against Cleveland. Now he has to find a way to translate all this talent into a consistent package of force on both ends of the floor that the Hawks can use as fuel night in and night out.
C Al Horford is the steadying force for this team and the backbone of what they do defensively. He'll remain a bit undersized for a center but whatever matchup issues he faces against the bigger centers in the league, he more than makes up for with all that he does on both ends of the floor. And with an improved offensive game, you can expect to see him become more of a factor on that end of the floor.
ANALYZING KEY RESERVES:
G Jamal Crawford is a 20-point scorer coming off the bench, which makes him a titanic-sized upgrade over anything the Hawks have had coming off the bench during the Woodson era.
F Joe Smith was acquired as injury insurance for both Josh Smith (no relation) and Al Horford. He's also that extra veteran body that can help the Hawks push through those tough nights when their lack of size and youth up front hold them back.
C Zaza Pachulia is another member of the summer free agent class that returned to bolster the lineup. Pachulia knows his role and has played it to perfection in the playoffs the last two years.
G Jeff Teague is the heir apparent to Bibby, but remains at least a year or two away from seriously challenging for the starting job. As good as he's looked early on, his outside shooting remains a work in progress.
G Mo Evans was the Hawks' human rabbit's foot last season, they won 66 percent of the game he started. Minutes won't be easy to come by with Crawford and Teague in the fold but Evans is a utility man extraordinaire and can fill in for Williams as well.
C Jason Collins (quad) is still working his way into game shape. The good thing is the Hawks won't be relying on the veteran big man for much early in the season. In fact, he's insurance for the backups in the frontcourt, which means he probably won't see much playing time at all unless someone is injured.
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