Steve Clifford sees Marvin Williams as primarily stretch four with Hornets

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Charlotte took a huge step last season, going 43-39 and making the playoffs.

But to build on that surprising success, the Hornets must replace starting power forward Josh McRoberts, who signed with the Heat.

How will they do that? Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh are all candidates to get minutes at power forward.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford offered a major clue about his plans.

Clifford, in a Q&A with Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:

Q. How do you envision Marvin Williams’ role?

A. He can play a balanced game – he’s plays both offense and defense well on the NBA level. He’ll play both forward spots, but I see him primarily as a stretch 4 (a power forward with 3-point range). Up close you see that he can shoot and pass very well. He’s a very smart player who makes smart, simple plays. And he’s very professional in his approach.

I bet the veteran Williams begins the season as Charlotte’s starting power forward. Zeller – or even Vonleh once he gets healthy – could eventually take the job, but Williams’ experience probably puts him ahead right now.

McRoberts’ perimeter play proved an excellent complement to Al Jefferson, who dominates in the low post. Williams can match McRoberts’ 3-point shooting, but he’s not nearly as good of a passer.

Williams raises the floor of Charlotte’s starting power forward, and he’s definitely a viable option. But if Zeller can build off his second half to last season, he might raise the ceiling. Similarly, Vonleh, a rookie, has major potential.

Once Zeller and/or Vonleh earn bigger roles, Williams can slide to small forward, too. Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will take a majority of minutes on the wing, but Williams can eventually split minutes between both forward positions.

Williams’ signing set up the Hornets for the present and future.