The Utah Jazz currently sit .5 games up on the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th spot in the Western Conference, after appearing dead in the water two weeks ago on March 24th. But since that point, the Jazz have gone on a 5 game winning streak, and have won 7 out of their last 8 games, which has allowed them to regain possession of the #8 seed in the West. While many players on the Jazz have contributed to this string of success over the past couple of weeks, one player stands out above all the rest and that is the Jazz point guard Mo Williams.
Over this 8 game stretch, Mo Williams has averaged 15.25 points, 6.125 assists, and scored at least 20 points in 4 games. The averages may not seem like a huge difference, but when you look at how his backup point guards have been doing this season in his absence, it is clear that Mo Williams statistical contributions are much bigger than they appear.
What has also made Mo Williams effective in this stretch is his ability to penetrate and attack the rim, which causes more open shots for Jazz three-point shooters, and more shots in the paint which is where the Jazz are most successful. I was present at the Jazz victory over the Warriors on Sunday night, and Mo Williams penetrating abilities was especially noticeable when watching the game live. When Mo Williams was out of the game, and Jamal Tinsley was at the helm, the Jazz played much more on the perimeter due to Tinsley’s lack of penetrating and aggression to go to the rim.
Let’s not forget that Mo Williams has sat out over a third of the season due to a broken thumb, which means that the Jazz are just now reaping the benefits of his play-making abilities. Had Mo Williams been healthy all season, there is no question the Jazz would be in better position in the standings and would likely be battling with Golden State for the #6 spot instead of battling with the Lakers for #8.
The one thing that everybody says the Jazz need is a point guard, and upon seeing the recent success of Mo Williams, that assumption seems to ring true. Due to their collection of really good bigs and quality swingmen, the Jazz are a team that can be a point guards’ paradise. Mo Williams certainly seems to be playing on cloud nine right now, and in the process has the Jazz right where they want to be. In sole possession of the final playoff spot out west with only a weeks’ worth of basketball to go.
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