When I consider what I’d like to see from the Trail Blazers this season, Mo Williams handling the ball while Damian Lillard is on the court ranks somewhere between Mike Rice joining the Blazer Dancers and Robin Lopez shooting threes. Yet night in and night out head coach Terry Stotts insists on breaking my heart with the two point guard lineup—and the wrong one facilitating.
There are 4 ways a possession can play out when Mo Williams has the ball:
#1: He jacks up a 20-footer with 15 seconds on the shot clock. Sadly, this is his most open look, but it’s incredibly damaging to Portland’s offensive rhythm.
(Probability of occurrence: 40%)
#2: He squirrels around for 20 seconds then takes a letter like he’s playing H-O-R-S-E. If he makes the running, turnaround leaner the next shooter has to match it right? (Probability of occurrence: 30%)
#3: He squirrels around for 20 seconds then needs a bailout, often resulting in a costly turnover. At least the Trail Blazers will get plenty of practice playing transition D. (Probability of occurrence: 20%)
#4: He passes the ball. (Probability of occurrence: a generous 10%)
I can almost hear Flight of the Bumblebee playing in Mo Williams’ head while Damian Lillard spectates from the arc. Why is Terry Stotts using the reigning Rookie of the Year, praised for his elite court vision and seemingly veteran leadership, as a spot-up shooter? I know that 48.5% from deep thus far looks awfully swell in a vacuum, but Lillard is needed to lead the team.
When the Trail Blazers signed Mo Williams as a free agent, they knew the risks. He can shoot you into or out of a game given the opportunity. But that was supposed to be an “in case of emergency” tactic. Stotts seems content to break the glass early and put Williams in a position to display his theatrics when the deficit is only 5 or 6.
If the Trail Blazers are going to play Mo Williams at the same time as Damian Lillard, they need adjust his role. Mo is a 38.5% career 3-point shooter, for Pete’s sake! Let Damian run the offense while Mo spots up. I’m more comfortable with a Lillard drive and kick than a Williams dive and brick. Besides, if the kick lands in Mo Williams’ irrationally confident hands, at least it’s a high percentage shot.
He has the potential for good—we saw it in preseason, but it’s clear that when the pressure is on, Mo will be Mo. That could be great if the Blazers learn to use him correctly. You don’t give a volume shooter free reign when he’s your 5th scoring option. It’s just common sense. Terry Stotts needs to abandon this two point guard notion before it sticks. He doesn’t have the right pieces to pull it off.
That doesn’t mean Mo Williams should never play the point. Damian Lillard can’t hold down the fort for 48 minutes a night while Earl Watson and CJ McCollum recover from injury. But when numbers 0 and 25 share space, it needs to be at the 1 and the 2 respectively. The only time I want to see Williams running the offense is when Wesley Matthews is in the game. Anything else is wasteful.