If you're a fan of Hardwood Paroxysm (and you should be), you know that Matt is a fan of the D-League. He's my go to guy for the skinny on D-Leaguers, and of course D-Leaguers seem to be figuring prominently in the end of the Clippers' season (Nick Fazekas, Andre Barrett, and now Marcus Williams). Long before the Clippers signed Marcus, I was asking Matt about him, and Matt was raving. Neither of us could figure out why he didn't stick with the Spurs, and why no one else had come calling.
Matt comes by his D-League infatuation honestly. He lives in Austin, home of the Toros, arguably the best team in the NBDL, and as it happens the D-League home of Marcus Williams. When the Clippers signed him last week, I immediately got an excited eMail entitled 'Congratulations.'
You're going to LOVE this kid. He's got so much confidence. He's a good shooter from the arc. He can run the floor, he's terrific in transition, and always looks for the extra pass instead of forcing the layup. His ball handling is terrific. Amazingly terrific. He ran the pick and roll with Mahinmi down here, and it was unstoppable. If you went to guard Mahinmi, Williams nailed the jumper. If you guard Williams, he can float it over the top. He's only 6-7, but he's so Goddamn long. He's insanely long. To let you know what I've seen him do defensively:
One game the Toros are getting killed by Chiekh Samb, the Pistons rookie they sent down and have called up periodically. He's 7 feet. So Snyder put Marcus on him. Shut him down, 2 blocks.
Three games later, the Toros are facing 6-5 point guard Desmon Farmar. He goes for 11 in the first half. Snyder puts Marcus on him. He goes scoreless with Marcus on him. He's young, is the best thing. He's got such a commitment to defense, such a dedication to improving his game. I've been absolutely marveled no one picked him up yet. It's one thing to have limited skills at 26, 27. Marcus is 21.
This is a fantastic pick up for you guys. If Dunleavy lets him play, he's going to stick. I have more faith in this kid than any other D-Leaguer I've seen play outside of the assignment players. He was damn close to making the Spurs roster in camp, and then got called up again. The Spurs are going to be pissed he got away.
And the good news for Matt, is that even though he didn't get to do a sit down interview, he was still able to conduct an interview with Marcus by phone from LA which he just posted over at HP.
As much as I like the guy, and as much as I want to see him play, I'm dubious as to how many minutes Marcus is going to get in the final 9 games. With Maggette and Thornton playing his natural position, it would not seem that there will be many quality minutes. But he's also capable of playing the 2, and if Matt has any insight, it seems like Williams has the potential to be a lock down perimeter defender, so if QRoss is still hurting, I suppose there could be some minutes open there for a few more games.
I haven't really looked at the 08-09 roster situation in a lot of depth. Williams and Fazekas are only signed until the end of this season - there's nothing that necessarily says they'll even be in camp with the Clippers next season, let alone make the roster. But competent front offices in San Antonio and Dallas thought highly enough of these guys to spend the 33rd and 34th picks in a DEEP draft on them - it certainly seems as if they've got the talent to earn a spot on next season's roster, and perhaps more importantly, the potential to develop into contributors on a good team. For instance, as much as I like QRoss, if Williams is capable of playing solid perimeter defense, and is better offensively, younger and cheaper, do the Clippers need to re-sign Ross this summer? I'm just asking.