In business and in life, it's critical to make a good first impression. In the case of Heat forward Shawne Williams, he'd rather leave you with a much more positive and lasting impact.
When the news broke that Williams, a 7-year veteran, had agreed to terms there was a collective, "Who?" heard throughout South Florida. In the wake of flirting with the idea of signing Carmelo Anthony and dealing with the loss of LeBron James, the addition of Williams was slightly underwhelming.
An up-and-down preseason didn't do him any favors, when he would drop 15 points in one game and go scoreless in the following one; from hot shooting to hot garbage in 48 hours or less. You could chalk it up to rust, given that he'd spent most of last season in basketball limbo as part of a depleted and formless Lakers team or as part of the NBA Developmental League.
As versatile cult-hero Josh McRoberts nursed a toe injury, Williams was thrust into the starting lineup in Miami's opening night victory over the Wizards. But scoring 2 points on 1-of-9 shooting (including 0-for-6 from 3-point range, his alleged specialty) only cemented what some believed about Williams: He was a washed-up stopgap that would soon be back in the world of per-diem fast food allowances, budget hotels and Econoline vans in exotic Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Just 10 games later, and you have to wonder how Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra can afford to keep him off the floor.
Williams is averaging 12 points, and 5.2 rebounds per game, but more importantly is currently shooting 52% from beyond the arc (courtesy of NBA.com):
He's been absolutely deadly from the corners, a spot vacated with the retirements of Shane Battier and Ray Allen (supposedly) and he's also been hitting the one-dribble pull-up from midrange when opponents chase him off of the line.
All but two of his 42 baskets have been assisted so far and perhaps the best stat that indicates how reliable Shawne has been as a release valve is that on shots measured as "open" (4-6 feet of space), Williams has an effective field goal percentage of 107.1. He's actually been worse when wide open (6+ feet) "only" shooting with an eFG% of 62.5.
The question remains, will it last? The HEAT signed Josh McRoberts to be their starting power forward, but it would be difficult to bench Williams when he's been sniping like this. It's highly unlikely he maintains this shooting pace, going off of his career as well as the simple fact that only eight players have eclipsed the 50% mark from beyond the arc (and four of them did so when the NBA briefly shortened the three point line in the mid-90s). But the fact remains that Williams has worked hard and has wildly exceeded all expectations.
Miami is in the middle of a terrible slump, having dropped three games in a row. And while McRoberts will likely assume his place in the starting lineup at some point this season, having a resurgent Williams provide spacing and outside shooting will be an added bonus. With every game taking on added significance, the Heat will need everyone on the roster to contribute to the team's success.