After kicking the city of Cleveland twice in the past week, David Stern has finally relented, selecting Mo Williams to replace the injured Chris Bosh in the NBA All-Star Game scheduled for Sunday. After the selection of Jameer Nelson, and his subsequent replacement by Ray Allen, it appeared that the Cavs' sole representatives in the game this year were going to be Lebron, Mr. Potato Head himself Mike Brown, and the ghost of Damon Jones (recently self-proclaimed as the greatest human being in the history of mankind).
Though Mo's contributions have apparently gone unappreciated around the league thus far, it's undeniable the effect that Williams has had on the Cavs this year. Williams has averaged 17.1 pts, while handing out 4.6 assists this season. Williams scoring is nearly identical to his average of last season (17.2), and his assists total has actually dropped (6.3). However, the numbers on their face fail to quantify the true value that Mo has given to the Cavs.
For the first time since Lebron has been in the league, the Cavs have provided him with a viable secondary scoring option from the guard position. Prior to Williams' arrival, James had been forced to rely on a barrage of subrate running mates: Larry "Please Stop Taking So Many Bad Shots" Hughes, Eric Snow, David Wesley, the beforementioned Mr. Handsome - Damon Jones, Flip Murray, Mike Wilks, Lucious Harris, Jeff McInnis, Dajuan Wagner, Jiri Welsch (what a fantastic deal that was), Ricky "Please Stop Shooting at Your Own Basket" Davis, and Kevin "The 'Stache" Ollie - just to hit the "highlights." Essentially, since trading away Terrell Brandon, the Cavs have been in a consistent search to find themselves a "true" point guard. Williams has finally solidified that role.
And unlike many of the names on the above-mentioned list, Mo has the ability to create his own shot and to drive to the basket. Though Williams remains equally capable of the standing in the corner catch and shoot offense that we've become accustomed to with Lebron, he has also a devastating tear drop which he can utilize almost at-will and seems to possess the antidote to the shooting the ball inside the three-point line fear, which afflicted so many of our previous guards.
What makes Mo Williams so important is that he's the anti-Larry Hughes. Rather than sulking about his complementary role on this team, he has embraced it. Whereas Hughes seemed to focus solely on his personal accomplishments, Williams appears as the consummate professional, sacrificing personal statistics for the success of the Cavs as a whole. And, in actuality, as Mo's stats are almost identical to his numbers of last year, Williams has shown that's possible to "get his" while not chucking up shots every time he touches the ball. While Lebron sits to begin the second quarter, Mo has a chance to become the dominate scorer. And, when Lebron returns, Williams has no trouble shifting gears and taking more of a backseat.
Perhaps the most valuable attribute that Mo has brought to the team, which has gone rather unnoticed, is his superb free-throw numbers. On the season, Mo has made a remarkable .943 of his shots at the charity stripe. Not since the days of Mark Price have the Cavs had a player knocking down free throws at such a clip. Now, instead of having Lebron taking the free shot after a technical (probably when Z should have been taking those shots anyways), the Cavs can send the more consistent Williams to the line. And, at the end of games, putting the ball in Mo's hands is almost a guaranteed two points when teams begin hacking.
As a fan, I'm proud to have Mo Williams on my team. Watching his play on the court and listening to him talk after games, it's clear that Williams is a class act - the type of player who you want to root for and who you want to succeed. I think that's why Cavs' fans took it so personally when he was denied the All-Star spot to begin with - because we realize how important Mo truly is to the Cavs. So Congratulations Mo, on being named to your first All-Star Game. I don't think you'd find anyone in a Cleveland who doesn't think you deserve it.