Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams isn’t a bad player. He hasn’t had a bad career.
He had averaged 10.4 points and five rebounds over the course of his career, and he has been a really effective role player for three separate franchises over 10 NBA seasons. At only 28 years old, there are still good years ahead, years in which he could pursue a championship, or maybe a Sixth Man of the Year award, or any of a number of things for which he could someday be remembered.
Right now, though, at this point in his career and for the better part of the last decade, he has first and foremost been known as the player picked ahead of Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the 2005 NBA Draft.
Marvin, however, has never cared about what anybody else said regarding his place in that 2005 Draft.
“Atlanta was in great need of a point guard, and there were three great point guards. They chose to select a forward, you know? What can I do about that?” Williams asked. “That was never something that I wasted too much time thinking about or worrying about because it was out of my control. Chris and Deron are two great, great players, two of the players that I enjoy watching myself. Those guys are great players, but no I never really bought too much the criticism at all.”
It isn’t his fault that those two players ended up having more decorated careers than him. He’s just a guy trying to do the best job he can for his current employer. Even early in his career, it wasn’t something he ever really concerned himself with.
“Everybody is entitled to an opinion, but at the end of the day their opinions didn’t matter to me before, so why would they matter to me now?” Williams said. “[Criticism] didn’t matter when I was growing up and had nothing, so why would it matter to me when I’ve actually made something of myself? It has never bothered me.”
With that draft having been 10 years ago and Atlanta no longer struggling in the wake of not having a drafted a point guard that year, most people have moved on from the disappointment of Williams having gone before Paul and Deron Williams, but it’s easy to forget that, at the time, there was a fair amount of promise surrounding Marvin Williams, as well.
As an 18-year-old non-starter for a very good North Carolina team in 2004-05, he was a top draft prospect that got at least one team excited enough to grab him before two sure-thing prospects at a position of need.
“I remember Coach [Roy] Williams was one of the coaches that never promised me a starting position,” Williams said. “Coach told me if I came to Chapel Hill and worked hard that I’d have an opportunity to play, and to be honest as a kid that is what intrigued me the most. I just wanted an opportunity to play, and he never handed me anything. I felt like I worked hard for everything that I got, and I was completely fine with coming off of the bench. Thankfully I was able to play well and our team had great success. I was able to be in the position to be drafted and I just felt like I had to take advantage of it.”
That experience at UNC prepared him for the NBA, mostly because a top program like North Carolina really shows young kids how to prepare for tougher competition.
“I feel like a ton of things that I learned in Chapel Hill still apply today, mainly the things that Coach Williams taught me: always work hard, always be professional, always try to be a great teammate, try to do things the right way,” Williams said. “Everything that he’s taught me since the moment I stepped on campus I still try to implement today.”
Today, Williams isn’t an All-Star, but he’s been a starter almost his entire career and has served his various employers well. In that, he finds satisfaction and pride in what he’s accomplished.
“This is my 10th year,” Williams said. “I feel like I’ve been a pretty solid role player on each and every team that I played for. I’ve been a starter primarily my entire career, and I’ve come off the bench before, no problem. But I feel like I’ve always found a way to kind of contribute and help a team win games.
“It’s the same thing I did in college, the same thing I did in high school. There was nothing that I feel like I wasn’t ready for, so I feel like I’ve done very well for myself. I’ve been very thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had, and I’m going to continue to cherish this for as long as I can.”
He has lasted longer in this league than fellow 2005 lottery picks Ike Diogu, Yaroslav Korolev and even Andrew Bynum, so even though Atlanta could have had an entirely different past decade had they drafted Chris Paul or Deron Williams, they did get a talented young kid who would go onto have a long, successful NBA career.
At some point, where a player was picked in the draft just doesn’t matter, anymore. Now, it’s about postseason success, and Deron Williams’ Brooklyn Nets and Marvin Williams’ Charlotte Hornets are neck-and-neck in their fight for the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference.
As they fight for the East’s final playoff berth, where they were drafted won’t matter at all.
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