22. Jason Williams
Jason Williams, born November 18th, 1975 in Belle, WV, was a 6'1" point guard with Dupont High in his hometown. One of his teammates was future NFL wide receiver Randy Moss. Williams was recruited heavily by Rick Barnes to play for Providence College, but Williams changed his mind when Barnes left to coach the Clemson Tigers. He played his first college season for Billy Donovan at Marshall, scoring 13.4 points with 6.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. When Donovan accepted the head coaching position with the Florida Gators, Williams followed him, electing to sit out a year of eligibility (as per NCAA rules) just to play another season for his coach. When his play resumed, Williams averaged 17 points, seven assists, and three rebounds per game before getting suspended for repeated marijuana infractions.
Despite Williams cannabis driven proclivities, the Sacramento Kings selected him in the first round of the 1998 draft, seventh overall. Williams played three seasons with the Kings (208 games), averaging 11.3 points, 6.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. During the 2001 offseason, the Kings traded him with Nick Anderson to the Vancouver Grizzlies for Mike Bibby and Brent Price. He played four seasons after the team moved to Memphis (284 games), and averaged 11.9 points, 7.2 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. The Heat acquired him as part of a five-team, 13-player deal that also netted them James Posey for Eddie Jones.
Williams first season in Miami was 2005-06, when he averaged 12.3 points (team third) on 44.2% field goal shooting. He started in 56 of his 59 appearances for 31.8 minutes per game (team second), averaging 4.9 assists (team second) and 2.4 rebounds. He also shot 37.2% from deep (team third). Miami posted a 38-21 record in his appearances, as he scored in double figures 37 times (62.7%). On November 25th, he shot 11-of-20 from the field, scoring 24 points with six rebounds and five assists in a 103-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. In a 119-99 victory over the Kings, he scored 19 points with 11 assists, four rebounds and three steals. He scored 21 points (four on three pointers) with nine assists, six rebounds and three steals on March 19th, in a 111-100 win against the New York Knicks. The Heat went 52-30 before making their way through the playoffs in 23 games, winning their first NBA title. Williams started in each of Miami's postseason matchups. His best game came in game six of the Eastern Conference finals, when the Heat eliminated the Detroit Pistons. Williams shot 10-for-12, scoring 21 points with six assists as the Heat won, 95-78.
In 2006-07, Williams, also known as "White Chocolate," started 55 times out of 61 total appearances. His scoring average dropped to 10.9 (team third), shooting 33.9% from three-point distance while his assists per game rose to 5.3 (team second) in 30.6 minutes (team third) per game. He also grabbed 2.3 rebounds with one steal per game (team third), and shot 41.3% from the field. With Williams in the rotation, Miami went 34-27. He scored 10 or more points 33 times, and had four double doubles. On December 2nd, in a 98-97 win against the Grizzlies, he scored 13 points with 14 assists and five rebounds. He scored a season high 28 points on December 27th, going seven-for-10 from three-point range and tacking on six dimes and three boards in a loss to the Bulls, 109-103. On January 22nd, he scored 20 points with seven assists, three steals and three rebounds in a 101-83 win against the Knicks. He scored 21 points with eight assists and four rebounds on March 21st, in a 91-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Miami went 44-38 on the season before getting swept out of the opening round by the Bulls in four games. Williams scored 23 points with 14 assists and eight rebounds in total.
2007-08 would see Williams start in 53 of his 67 overall appearances, averaging 28.1 minutes and scoring 8.8 points with 4.6 assists, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. He shot 38.4% from the field and 35.3% from three point distance. He finished in double digits 25 times and the Heat went 12-55 in his appearances. On November 9th, in a 106-101 setback at the hands of the Phoenix Suns, he scored 21 points with 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals. On March 14th, he scored a season high 34 points with seven assists and six rebounds in a 103-94 loss to the Orlando Magic. In a 112-106 win against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 18th, he scored 21 points with 10 assists and three rebounds. Miami finished with a franchise record worst tying 15-67 record. Instead of reupping with the Heat, Williams opted instead to sign a one year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. Before he ever suited up, he opted to retire due to persistent injuries.
After one season out of basketball, Williams played parts of two seasons with the Magic (98 games). He closed his NBA career back with the Memphis Grizzlies (11 games). He ranks second all-time on the Grizzlies leaderboard with 2069 assists.
All-Time HEATline: Three seasons, 187 games, 30.1 minutes, 10.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.1 blocks, 13.8 PER, 12.5 win shares.
21. Steve Smith
Steve Smith was a 6'7" shooting guard from Highland Park, MI. Born on March 31st 1969, he played for Pershing High School in Detroit. He signed on with the Michigan State Spartans in college, started for four seasons, and graduated with the Class of 1991 as the school's all-time scoring leader, with 2263 points. He averaged 18.5 points with 6.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Miami picked him in the first round of the draft that season, with the fifth overall pick.
As a rookie, Smith started in 59 of his 61 games, playing 29.6 minutes (team fourth) and scoring 12 points (team fourth) with a team leading 4.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and one steal (team fourth) per game. He shot 45.4% from the floor and 32% from long distance. He finished in double digits 39 times, and helped Miami to a 29-32 record while in the rotation. On November 2nd, in an opening day 107-93 Heat win over the New York Knicks, he shot eight-of-11, including two three-pointers for a season high 24 points with six rebounds, five assists, and two steals. He scored 23 points with seven assists and six rebounds in a 118-112 win against the Kings on November 22nd. On December 18th, in a 118-112 overtime win against the Indiana Pacers, he scored 19 points with eight assists and seven rebounds. He scored 11 points with eight assists and four steals on March 18th in an overtime loss to the Pacers, 116-111. Miami went 38-44 to take the eighth seed. They lost three straight to the Bulls in their first ever trip to the playoffs. Smith averaged 16 points and five assists.
In 1992-93, Smith played 48 games, starting 43. He shot 45.1% overall, and a team leading 40.2% from long distance. Playing 33.5 minutes per game (team fourth), he averaged 16 points(team third), a team leading 5.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds (team fifth), and one steal (team third). He scored failed to tally in double digits only seven times over the season, with four double doubles and helped the team to a 26-22 record. He scored 21 points with 12 assists and 10 rebounds on February 15th in a 130-129, two overtime win against the Denver Nuggets. In a 102-91 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on February 24th, scored 15 points with 11 rebounds and seven assists. On March 3rd, he hit 12-of-15 shots, including all four three point attempts for 30 points, along with nine assists and eight rebounds as the heat set down the Washington Bullets, 125-106. He scored a season high 31 points with nine assists on April 4th in a win over the Orlando Magic, 124-106. Miami went 36-46, finishing out of the postseason.
1993-94 would see Smith play in 78 contests through the regular season, starting in all but one. In 35.6 minutes per game (team second), he scored 17.3 points (team second) with a team leading 5.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds (team fourth), and 1.1 steals (team third). He shot 34.7% from three point range and 45.6% overall. He scored 10 or more points 69 times with nine double doubles. He scored 32 points in a 108-102 loss to the Golden State Warriors, pitching in with four rebounds and four assists. In a 115-112 win against the Seattle SuperSonics on February 17th, he tied his season high with 32 points, also making four assists and grabbing three rebounds. He scored 27 points on nine-of-13 shooting with 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals in a 101-94 win against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 15th. Miami clinched a playoff berth at 42-40, but lost in the opening round of the postseason to the Atlanta Hawks, three-games-to-two. Smith led the Heat with 19.2 points through the series, with six rebounds and 2.2 assists.
In 1994-95, Smith started the first two games of the season with Miami, scoring 41 points. On November 7th, the Heat traded him with Grant Long and a draft pick (Joe Vogel) to the Hawks for Kevin Willis and a draft pick (Walter McCarty). Smith played the best basketball of his NBA career with the Hawks, appearing in 339 games over the next four and a half season and making the 1998 All Star Team. He later played with the Blazers (163 games), the San Antonio Spurs (130 games), the New Orleans Hornets (71 games), and the Charlotte Bobcats (37 games). He closed out his career back with Miami, scoring 23 points in 13 games in 2004-05.
All-Time HEATline: Five seasons, 202 games, 31.5 minutes, 14.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks, 15.5 PER, 14.2 win shares.
Tune in next time when we adjust the format to cover one player per article. Our first subject was recently named the Heat's director of college and pro scouting.