How does a player who made just one 3-pointer last season turn into one of his team's most prolific deep shooters in a matter of months? Hawks forward Marvin Williams answers that question and more in a conversation with AJC Hawks beat writer Sekou Smith.
Q. Before this season, you were a 23 percent (25-108) career 3-point shooter, and now you're shooting 56 percent (13-23) this season. How does that happen?
A. [Hawks coach Mike Woodson] told me to do it. At my exit meeting last season, he told me come back with it. Whatever they tell me to work on in the summer is pretty much what I dedicate my summer to.
Q. Did he tell you don't come back without a big-time 3-point shot?
A. [Laughing] He really told me I needed to extend my range out to the three, and I just worked on it.
Q. Did you think it would also make you much more dangerous to guard one-on-one?
A. It was a lot more for myself, but even bigger than that, it was for our team. I knew we needed another shooter to keep teams from doubling Joe [Johnson].
Q. You've nailed two huge 3-pointers this season, one in Boston for a late lead and the game-clincher in the win over Washington on Wednesday. Can you remember how many shots like that you've had in your three years before that?
A. None [laughing]. I'd have never been in that situation last year. Everybody in the league knows who our go-to guy is in that situation. At the same time, Joe trusts his teammates. He did in Boston and he did [Wednesday]. I just have to stay ready.
Q. Have things slowed down for you now in your fourth season? Do you see it all coming together finally?
A. I think so. But at the same time, I don't think there's anything really different going on. I just think it's easier because I know what Coach Woodson expects from me. I know my role on this team. And I just have to go out and do it every night.
Q. You started the season pretty shaky, 1-for-7 from the floor in your opening night. How did you rebound mentally?
A. My timing was so off. I was out half the preseason with [a sprained thumb ligament] and then suspended the first game. I could never get a steady flow that first night. But I've worked with [Hawks shooting consultant] Mark Price a lot. And that's really helped me out big time.
Q. Are you constantly picking Price's brain for tips on how to be a great shooter?
A. Of course. But he doesn't have to say too much. I asked him how much did he shoot on his own and he just started laughing. He said that's all he did. So that's in the back of my mind when I come out in the morning before practice and get up shots and when I stay late and get up more shots. You're talking about one of the great shooters in the game talking about how he did extra work. So I know I need to be out there. And it's good to have him out here with us.
Q. Does the recent 1-4 stretch take any of the shine off of the 6-0 start for you, or is it just a part of the marathon that is the NBA regular season?
A. It does. Especially the way we lost. I'm not saying they weren't good teams, but they were teams we felt like we should have beaten and we didn't.
Q. What happened?
A. You go from being the best defensive team in the league to the worst defensive team in the league in basically a week. That's about it. And it was the way we lost those games that was painful. But we got back on track.
Q. As busy as you are right now, you always keep close tabs on the program at North Carolina. How are they handling all these injury issues they're dealing with?
A. I talk to those guys quite a bit. They're just getting hit right now. One thing about the injury bug, it bites hard. They just have to hold tight until they get Tyler [Hansbrough] and some of those other guys back. There's always that silver lining with injuries, guys eventually come back.
Q. So you think it might actually turn out to be a good thing that the reigning national player of the year has been out?
A. Tyler's injury is basically a blessing in disguise. He'll be a month fresher in March. Everybody knows he takes a beating. So for him to have a month off from that grind is going to be huge for those guys. He'll be fresh when we need him.
Q. So there's no question who will be in the top spot on your office pool come tournament time?
A. Never a question. It's time for us to get it back.