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Timberwolves Sign Mo Williams to 1-Year Deal to Improve Their Bench

Apr 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Mo Williams (25) brings the ball up the court during the first quarter against the Houston Rockets in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

There really isn’t much of a reaction to a Mo Williams signing in the year 2014. If signing Mo Williams impacts your season enough to matter one way or the other, your team has bigger issues. This makes it a little tough to get overly excited over the signing in any sort of way, especially since Williams’ one year, $3.75 million dollar deal is so reasonable. On a large scale, this doesn’t really mean much for the Timberwolves. Williams is 31 now and on a one-year deal. In the short term, this says more about the incumbent bench guards– JJ Barea and Alexey Shved –than it does Williams.

Chart courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com

Chart courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com

Chart courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com

Chart courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com

I mean, look at those numbers. Is it any wonder Rick Adelman spent all of last season looking for somebody anybody to trust off of the bench? Look. Even if Williams likes to call his own number a little too often and is a little turnover prone, at least he can make his shots at an average rate; that’s still more than Shved or Barea could say last season. In fact, Williams’ 36.9 percent mark would have made him third on the team in three point field goal percentage, and one of six Timberwolves to shoot over what is considered average (35 percent).

Barea’s regression as a scorer not only reduced his value to the team, but hurt the team as a whole as they were the 25th ranked bench unit last season. Of course, Williams comes from the team with the worst bench in the league in terms of points per game, but appears to be a positional upgrade for the Timberwolves. In some ways this is acknowledging that the team was too top heavy and that the addition of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute did not help a bench unit that featured a recovering Chase Budinger, Robbie Hummel and Dante Cunningham as their primary offensive bench weapons. Now, if Williams and LaVine can give the team anything and Budinger continues to improve, the Timberwolves will be a better bench unit next season.

With Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine and other guard-capable players on the roster, this likely spells the end for Barea and/or Shved. The Timberwolves have a two year sample to work on that shows them that Barea and Shved have not helped the team’s success, as bench play was a major problem for the team last year. Williams appears to be at least a slight upgrade at this position, and shows that the Timberwolves know they needed to try something different. As an added benefit, moving Barea’s contract at one-year/$4.5 million saves the team about $750K, which is something for a cap-strapped team like Minnesota.

In short: saving money while addressing a weakness is a good move.

It seems as if the Timberwolves are subscribing to the belief that great change can occur by making subtle changes, and the Williams move seems to be inline with that train of thought. No, the addition of Williams alone will not be enough. Shabazz Muhammad and Hummel will have to develop further. Budinger will have to continue to get his shooting legs back. And LaVine will haave to bring anything he can to the table. But it’s through that these simple tweaks that the Timberwolves seem to be making that they hope will bring improvement to their bench.

Worst case scenario, we’ll at least have the John Legend doppleganger comparisons to make.

Derek James

In addition to writing for Hardwood Paroxysm, Derek James covers the Minnesota Timberwolves for Howlin’ T-Wolf and the Charlotte Bobcats for SB Nation’s Rufus on Fire. He often finds himself writing too many words on irrelevant players. Andray Blatche and Isaiah Rider follow him on Twitter. Unrelated to LeBron James, but taught him everything he knows.