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Pistons claim Shawne Williams off waivers

The Pistons look to be getting an Anthony Tolliver clone in their new stretch-4.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Just before Tuesday's matchup against the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers, news trickled through from very respectable places (Marc Stein) that the Pistons had claimed veteran Shawne Williams off of waivers.

This was soon confirmed by the team.

Detroit will be Williams' seventh stop during his NBA career (after previous stints in Indiana, Dallas, New York, New Jersey, L.A. [Lakers] and Miami).  So what do we know about Shawne, and what can we expect from him?

Career and Personal Life

Shawne Williams is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, where he was born in February 1986 (29 years old for those wondering).  He attended high school in North Carolina before playing college ball in his hometown at the University of Memphis.  He was one and done in college, entering the 2006 NBA draft where he was selected 17th by the Pacers.

Williams found consistent minutes hard to come by in Indiana, averaging under 15 per game in 111 games (only six starts) before being shipped to Dallas for a couple of second rounders and Eddie Jones.  His minutes situation didn't improve in Dallas, and he spent a year out of the league before making a comeback in New York with the Knicks.

As a member of the Knicks, Williams' minutes rose above 20 per game for the first time in his career.  He responded with good play, averaging a career-high 7.1 points per game, including a career-high .401 clip from 3.  He turned his solid play that season into a two-year deal with the nearby New Jersey Nets, who beat the offer made by New York.  However, he didn't last a full season in New Jersey, being traded to, and subsequently waived by, Portland, for Gerald Wallace.  He spent another year out of the league, this time in China, before latching on with the Lakers.

He did nothing special with the Lakers, and was waived on Jan. 7 by the team as it looked to reinforce the guard spot after injuries to Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar.  He did rejoin the team later on a solitary 10-day contract.

This past offseason, he signed with the Miami Heat and put up some good numbers.  He notched 6.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in a career-high 21 minutes per game before being packaged to New Orleans as Miami dealt him, Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton and Danny Granger in a three-team deal to acquire Goran and Zoran Dragic.  After being waived by New Orleans, he was claimed Tuesday by Detroit.

Williams does have a past with the law, having twice been charged for marijuana possession (2007 in Indianapolis and 2012 in Memphis), as well as being charged with selling codeine in 2010 in Memphis.

Williams also had an older brother, by one year, who was murdered before he entered the NBA.

What can he do?


Williams has stuck around in the league as long as he has because of one discernible skill.  He can shoot the basketball.  In 44 games with Miami, he hit 60 triples at a .395 clip.  He has also made a career-high rate of his free throws, going 28 for 33, good for 85 percent.  Let's take a look at Williams' shooting by range.

Distance % of FGA by distance FG% by distance
0-3 .142 .559
3-10 .029 .429
10-16 .054 .385
16-3PT .142 .441
3PT .633 .395

As we can clearly see, Williams clearly does not bother going for lesser buckets, with nearly two-thirds of his field goal attempts coming from 3-point attempts.  A good comparison from this current roster would be Anthony Tolliver, who has excelled in a bench role since coming over from Phoenix. Tolliver's shooting splits:

Distance % of FGA by distance FG% by distance
0-3 .199 .741
3-10 .059 .625
10-16 .000 .000
16-3PT .051 .429
3PT .691 .394

Tolliver's shooting splits are slightly more extreme, but they paint the same picture.  At the rim or behind the line.  No mid-range rubbish.  I'm surprised that he actually has not attempted a shot in that 10-16 feet range, but that's a good thing.  While Tolliver is a better shooter and finisher near the rim, they are equal long-range bombers, and it's not unrealistic to see Shawne Williams' percentages fall in line with what Tolliver has shown. If anything, the minor difference in their two games is that Williams is more willing to pull up from midrange.

The outstandingly similar part of their games, though, is how they get their shots, with both men relying on assists to get open looks.

Williams Tolliver
% 3PM assisted .983 1.000

Wow.  Tolliver has been assisted on every single one of his 3-point makes with Detroit.  Actually, the last time Tolliver hit an unassisted 3-pointer was the 2008-09 season with San Antonio.  Williams also requires a pass to let fly, with 98 percent of his makes coming off of a pass.  Seeing how Tolliver has excelled with that bench unit, with service from players such as Spencer Dinwiddie and John Lucas III, as well as the starting point guard whenever he's finished games, Williams can expect a lot of open 3s in Detroit's offense.

What's funny about both men is that they are not too proficient from the corners, widely known as the shortest 3-point shot on the court and, therefore, the easiest.  Here are the stats for percentage of 3s from the corner as well as the percentage made.

Williams Tolliver
% of 3PA from corner .487 .340
3P% from corner .378 .375

Williams gets nearly half of his threes from the corner, and his percentage isn't bad, but you'd think it could be higher.  As for Tolliver, he doesn't get as many corner looks, as he likes to run pick-and-pop action and then flare out to the wings for a 3.

Advanced Metrics

Now that we've looked at the shooting stats for both players, how do each of them stack up in other areas of the game, namely advanced metrics.

Williams Metric Tolliver
21.0 Minutes per game 19.3
11.2 PER 15.1
.574 TS% .655
.633 3 PT attempt rate .691
.138 FT attempt rate .316
9.2 Total rebound percentage 9.7
14.3 Usage rate 15.7
1.2 Offensive Win Shares 1.2
0.6 Defensive Win Shares 0.4
1.9 Win Shares 1.6
.096 Win Shares / 48 .153

As we can see, Tolliver's numbers are generally much better than those of Williams, and he's doing so in less minutes.  However, we have to remember that Tolliver's numbers are only so good because of the system he is in and the role he plays within that system.  In Phoenix, his numbers were pedestrian, and it's a reasonable expectation that Williams can also make a slight leap in production with a better system around him in Detroit than the one he found himself in while with the Heat.  A jump in PER, true shooting percentage, and the percentage of his shots that come from behind the 3-point line would not be unexpected.

Both Tolliver and Williams are also very low-usage players while also being serious threats to score from distance. This means defenses cannot leave them alone, leaving more space for guards like Reggie Jackson to exploit.  If defenses do sag on to the penetrative guards, then it is a relatively simple manner of a drive and kick for an open 3-pointer.

In conclusion, judging by the improvement in play from Anthony Tolliver since his arrival, it's not too far-fetched to think that Williams could too see an uptick in his production.  As the numbers show, they have very similar skill sets, and both have an important role to play as our stretch power forwards backing up our traditional frontcourt, as they will allow more space for our guards based on their reputation.

All I can say is now, welcome to the #WilliamsEffect.

Author's Note: All statistics shown taken from Basketball-Reference.  All statistics relevant to the 2014-15 NBA season.