Blazers G Mo Williams Responds To Criticism: "Name Four Back-Up Point Guards Better Than Me"

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Spo

Portland Trail Blazers reserve guard Mo Williams responds to criticism of his statistics.

Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com took a look at some numbers and concluded that Portland Trail Blazers reserve guard Mo Williams isn't having a major impact on his team's success.

But as of Thursday morning, Williams' net off-the-court rating -- a combination of his offense and defense -- is the highest on the team. Again, those stats say there is no player on the roster the team plays better WITHOUT than Williams. He has a bigger positive impact on the game for the Blazers when he's off the court than anyone else on the team!

...

Williams said Wednesday he is certain he's going to opt out of his Portland contract at the end of the season. This might make him a desirable trade piece. My take on that is it's not a silly idea to explore the idea of trading him.

Williams posted a response to the article on Twitter.

This is comedy. The only stat I care about is being the best in the west. Enjoy the ride and stop trying to find a negative in every situation. Lol, you name 4 back-up PGs better than me.....don't worry, I'll wait.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts has repeatedly referred to Williams as the "best back-up point guard in the NBA."

Here are Williams' on/off court splits.

  • On-court: Offensive Rating 106.4 | Defensive Rating 106.4
  • Off-court: Offensive Rating: 114 | Defensive Rating: 103.3

Digging down into the five-man lineup data, Williams' most-used lineup combination pairs him with Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez (four starters). That group has an offensive rating of 109.4 and a defensive rating of 93.4. That generates an outstanding +16 net rating, which is better than Portland's starters (albeit, importantly, in 1/7 as many minutes).

Remember, Portland's starting lineup is largely responsible for delivering the league's No. 1 offense, so comparing favorably with them is a big gold star.

In lineups that include Williams and at least one other reserve, the numbers predictably get a lot more gruesome. Williams' rough overall on-court/off-court numbers therefore seem to be a product of just how well Portland's starters have played as a unit (when he's off the court, Damian Lillard is very often on the court with the rest of the starters) and the collective drag that Portland's other bench players (Joel Freeland, Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright, etc.) generate when they are on the court together.

By comparison, three of the four most-used five-man lineup combinations that include Lillard and at least two reserve players have logged negative net-ratings. The Lillard/Williams/Batum/Aldridge/Freeland group has done well while other combinations (Lillard/Williams/Wright/Robinson/Freeland, Lillard/Williams/Wright/Robinson/Lopez, Lillard/Williams/Matthews/Batum/Aldridge) have struggled. None of these lineup groups have played more than 100 minutes together, though, because Portland is so dependent upon its top six players, with all five starters logging 30+ minutes a night.

Summary version: The Blazers have done very well with Williams as a stand-in for Lillard, but Williams hasn't been so overwhelmingly amazing that he's able to carry units that are more heavily bench-dependent to great success. Lillard also hasn't been so overwhelmingly amazing that he's capable of carrying bench-dependent units. The Lillard/Williams pairing together has generated only a mixed bag (very good offensive numbers, very bad defensive numbers).

I suspect that's in line what what most people are seeing with the "eye test." There are clear areas of improvement for Williams -- his 18.2 turnover percentage is rough and his shooting numbers aren't off the charts -- but at $2.7 million, I'm not sure his level of individual performance is worthy of significant criticism, especially with no other readily available point guard options (Earl Watson is a significant downgrade, CJ McCollum is a two).

Williams said earlier this week that he plans to opt out next summer. He signed a two-year contract worth $5.4 million last summer that included a player option for the 2014-15 season.

Be sure to follow the new @Blazersedge account on Twitter right here.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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