Shawne Williams is the flavor of the month in New York.
He has gone from “guy invited to camp as practice fodder” to “guy getting regular minutes in Mike D’Antoni’s rotation.” He’s put up double-digit scoring in three-straight games off the bench and has hit 10 of 12 threes this season. He’s played in five straight games, the Knicks have won five straight.
Everybody gets their 15 minutes in New York — remember last season when Earl Baron was the answer at center? — but Williams has the talent to stick and make it work. His coach and teammates are starting to believe in him.
His talent on the court was never in question, it is why Knicks GM Donnie Walsh, back when he was with the Pacers, pushed Larry Bird to draft Williams at No. 17 in 2006. That decision blew up in his face as Williams was arrested for marijuana possession, gun possession and was a bust on the court. The trifecta. When we had last seem him with Dallas Williams was 1-17 from three and had an “I should be out of the league” PER of 7.5. So Williams was for a while, during which time he says (after an arrest and court-ordered rehab) he cleaned up his act.
This season his PER is up to a crazy good 23.8 (small sample size theater here, so don’t go overboard). Walsh told Marc Berman of the New York Post this is what he always pictured for Williams.
“It doesn’t surprise me in one sense,” Walsh told The Post yesterday before the Knicks’ 121-114 Garden victory, which he did not attend as he continues rehab. “I’ve known him as a great shooter, a very good rebounder and good defender. Those things I know he can do. When Mike [D’Antoni] told me he was thinking about playing him, I told him when he played in Indiana and came in, most games he’d make shots.”
Walsh admitted that bringing a guy who had a history of off-the-court trouble to New York — where there is all kinds of new and exciting trouble to be found — was a big concern.
“Shawne was more talented than some of the guys we were talking about bringing in (to camp),” Walsh said. “But I waited until the final week before camp to sign him because I needed Shawne to understand that here, you’re going to be judged very harshly off the court. On the court I knew he could play, but he made very bad judgments off the court.
“He told me, ‘You don’t have to worry about me, Donnie.’ And I thought he learned enough from past mistakes where I could believe him.”
Three good games in New York are meaningless. But Williams is draining the corner three, seemingly is staying out of trouble off the court and may be making the most of his second chance. For now, his minutes and those chances are only going to increase.
Maybe this is the place for him, where he is not the rookie star (Landry Fields) or the only guy with an extra “e” in his name (Amar’e Stoudemire). Maybe he has figured it out. Which would be big for both him and the Knicks.