When the TDS writer listserv was first solicited with the prospect of a Reggie Williams article, the immediate response said everything:
What's a "Reggie Williams?"
It's not necessarily an unreasonable response to a guy who has been lurking at the margins of NBA rotations in the 4 seasons he has been in the league. Most recently, he has been a part of a Bobcats roster that appears to be an invisible cloak of sorts, making it easy to overlook a player's talent. The Spur's Boris Diaw is a fine example of an incredibly skilled player who can meaningfully contribute on a championship caliber team who got lost in the abyss of a team that has looked more like a D-league team some nights than a group of NBA professionals.
Today, we will try to shed some light on the newest addition to this increasingly exciting Houston Rockets roster and explore what he can bring to the table next season.
Why We Signed Him
The Rockets seems to have a definitive algorithm for determining who to scoop up from free agency. Based on the Rocket's needs and limitations, Reggie was perhaps the most predictable free agent signing that no one saw coming. Almost all of the push-pull factors pointed toward Reggie.
The Rockets are notorious for making a player's character a heavy part of their evaluation when making roster related decisions.
Make all the Dwight Howard (or Royce White) jokes you want at that last statement, but the Houston Rockets consistently go after young talent that is not just proven on the court but also is mature enough to handle the responsibility that comes along with being an NBA professional. There will be no DeMarcus Cousins or Javaris Crittentons in our locker room.
As a four year college player who has a dad who served in the military and also attended the Virginia Military Institute, Reggie has a noticeable sense of discipline instilled in him.
Although military commission is not required after graduation, VMI's students are treated like soldiers. At VMI, cadets don't get beds. They get cots. Freshmen are literally referred to as ‘rats.' There are curfews and strict rules and regulations controlling almost every aspect of student life. Just take a glance at their most recent cadet handbook.
Reggie says that "The military aspect didn't have anything to do with going to VMI," but "it didn't make it any easier." He attributes a lot of his strong basketball work ethic in college to this environment. Williams noted that he was "feeling a lot of stress with the way things were going," which caused him to spend "a lot of time in the gym, working out on [his] own, getting extra shots up."
On top of being a guy who is self-motivated from a promising background, he is also just a refreshingly down to earth guy. He was pretty accessible to the media back at Golden State and with the Bobcats. He is laid back and is known to troll his fellow teammates.
Certainly its not the primary factor in Rockets signings, but it definitely matters to Leslie Alexander and Reggie seems to fit the bill here more than most other options.
2. Flat out scorer
In his 4 seasons playing at the VMI, he averaged 22.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists. He led the entire NCAA in scoring both of his last two seasons as a Keydet averaging 28.1 and 27.8 points per game, respectively.
In those final two years, his field goal percentage was 53.1% and 52.8%. For a guard, those are just gaudy numbers.
In the D-league, playing with the Souix Falls Skyforce, he averaged 26.4 points per game on 57% shooting (41% from 3) in 31 games. His true shooting percentage was a ridiculous 67.6% and eFG percentage was 63.2%.
In the NBA, in the lone season he has played more than half of the games, he played 20 minutes a contest and finished 9th in the entire NBA in 3 points field goal percentage at 42.3%. He was also sported the 12th lowest turnover percentage of any NBA player that season. That year, Reggie tied Jon Barry and Jason Richardson's Golden State record for most consecutive 3 point field goals without a miss with 8.
He has shown the ability to dish out assists and make his teammates better as well. In Charlotte, he helped fill minutes at the point guard spot when Ramon Sessions was injured.
Ultimately, Reggie can light up a box score with his crafty moves towards the rim and his smooth, lefty shooting stroke. He gets to the rim and forces fouls at a solid rate and can help keep the offense in attack mode while the starters get their second wind.
After signing Dwight to a max deal, the Rockets are now scraping the bottom of the financial barrel in order to fill out the roster with up-to-par role players and not a bunch of scrubs (barring a trade, which, to me, is becoming increasingly unlikely). After Dwight's max contract and agreeing to a 3 year deal for our second round draft pick, Isaiah Canaan, the Rockets can only offer minimum contracts to potential free agents. Francisco agreed to come back for the minimum because he liked how the organization did business and wanted to be on a winning team. Omri and Reggie were almost forced to as a result of a free agency market that didn't seem to have their numbers. Cleveland buried Omri. Charlotte buried Reggie.
With the Bobcats, Williams could not find consistent minutes on the floor behind Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald Henderson, and Ben Gordon so he became a very easy player to overlook in the free agency market. The Bobcats decided not to bring him back in order to better pursue Al Jefferson in free agency.
In Williams, Daryl found an under-performing young player on a historically bad team who had shown flashes of supreme scoring talent. There were very few free agents left who had this kind of talent available for the discounted price Houston got him for.
Reggie is the kind of five dollar bill Daryl Morey loves finding in his pockets after he does laundry.
With a minimum contract with a non-guaranteed second year, this is a classic 'low risk Morey' move that has a chance pan out beautifully and hurts the team in no substantial way if he ends up being a dud.
What to Look For
None of this is to say that Reggie Williams is both the hero Houston needs and/or deserves. He does have significant limitations to his game.
Although on offense his shiftiness and shooting stroke can overcome his lack of athleticism, on the defensive side of the ball he does not have many ways to compensate. His length helps, but he does not have the lateral quickness necessary to stay with very quick shooting guards off the dribble. Defending the pick and roll is another area where his basketball IQ needs improvement. At 26 years of age, he has some time to figure those things out.
The more I think about it, the more I begin to think that Reggie Williams looks like a dirty, homeless man's version of the early James Harden. Add a beard to Reggie's face and it is sort of difficult to tell the difference at a glance.
The Rockets will be hoping that Reggie can replicate the 2010-11 season with Golden State and provide a scoring punch off the bench. Though they retained Francisco Garcia's services, the other bench rotation spots on the perimeter are occupied by James Anderson's unguaranteed $916,099 contract and fellow minimum salary player, Omri Casspi. Anderson (if he isn't already gone before October 31) and Casspi will likely duke it out for minutes next to ‘Cisco on the 2nd unit. Look for him to play fringe minutes early on, but don't be surprised if he begins to command more as the season progresses.
More than likely, he is an insurance policy for a Garcia injury or an ice cold Omri. However, he will be given a fair opportunity to finally showcase his skills on a team that wants him to fill a similar bench role that the Warriors had him in.
It almost makes too much sense to sign someone like Reggie. The stars seemed to align around 1) the need for a cheap contract - which can cause you to gravitate towards under-performing players on bad teams coming off contract and 2) the need for more depth on the perimeter offensively in terms of getting a guy who can handle the ball and create his own shot.
Keep an eye on him as the season progresses. We may curse him for his defense at times, but I have a feeling we will fall in love with him in a Carl Landry sort of way.
More from The Dream Shake:
- Interview: Talking Dwight Howard, Omer Asik, and more Rockets with 1080 The Team
- The James Harden Conundrum
- Rockets Fined $150,000 for Violating Free Agent Moratorium
- Even After Adding Harden & Dwight, Daryl Morey Can't Earn Josh Innes' Approval
- Patrick Beverley joins the Dream Shake to talk transition to Rockets, excitement for coming season