Finding out if Mark Williams is for real
The Charlotte Hornets should be able to get a much clearer picture of what it is they have in Mark Williams this season. As a rookie, Williams averaged 9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1 block while mostly coming off the bench in 43 games. Seems solid, but it is what he was able to do once Mason Plumlee was traded to the Clippers which was eye-catching.
The 7-foot-1 Duke product put together averages of 11.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 17 starts down the stretch. Nearly averaging a double-double, Williams was able to show why the Hornets were more than comfortable with taking him 15th overall in the 2022 draft. With that being said, it would be wise to exercise some caution here.
While what he was able to accomplish in starting 17 of his final 18 games of the season is impressive, especially for a rookie, it is important to note his performances in the games leading up to this stretch. Upon returning to the Hornets lineup, Williams was averaging 7.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and the same 1.1 blocks per game while seeing the floor for 15.3 minutes on average. This is more than fine and sort of expected for a rookie coming off the bench. As a starter, his playing increased to 26.9 minutes per game on a very depleted Hornets team which could have been the driving force in his increased production.
This is not to say that Williams is incapable of repeating his performance over the final month or so of the season, because that is very much on the table. It is simply asking him to prove it at a time when the Hornets are not coming to the end of a lost season.