‘An absolute pro’: Williams expected to be a leader for the Hornets

Mitchell Northam

At 33 years-old and with 14 years of NBA experience under his belt, Marvin Williams enters his 15 NBA season as the elder statesman of the Charlotte Hornets. Nic Batum is the only other player on the roster over 30 and with double-digit years of playing experience.

“I’m extremely blessed,” Williams said Monday at Hornets’ media day. “I was talking to my family a couple of days ago… I never thought I would make it this far. It just kind of came at me faster than I thought it would, but I feel great physically and mentally.”

Williams started in each of the 75 games he played in for the Hornets last season, averaging 10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists over 28.4 minutes per-game, while shooting 36.6 percent from three-point range and 76.7 percent on free throw attempts.

He’s been in Charlotte since 2014, when he signed a two-year $14 million deal. In 2016, the two sides agreed to a new multi-year deal, worth about $55 million over four years.

Williams is in the final year of that contract now, and while he’s been a starter for the majority of his career in the Queen City, that could change this season as the Hornets put an emphasis on playing their younger guys. At Williams’ position – power forward – Miles Bridges or PJ Washington could get more playing time than the veteran this year.

"We have a very young team, but the people we have are the right guys,” Williams said. “I think to our core, we're the right kind of people. We work hard and want to win. We're just young.

"We'll come in and get better and win as many games as possible."

Of course, the youngsters will have to beat Williams out for his job in camp.

“The veterans are competing for minutes as well,” Hornets’ coach James Borrego said. “I expect a very competitive couple of days in Chapel Hill.”

As he was in previous seasons, Williams will be looked at as a leader of the team, on and off the court. Leadership will be key for the Hornets this season as they try to fill the void left by Kemba Walker. Williams said it will “be tough” to move on without Walker and added that the guard “will be the greatest Hornet ever.”

But this season, Walker won’t be around on the planes, buses and locker room when a younger Hornet needs someone to talk to. Williams will be.

“The only thing I can be is me. Other than that, I’ll continue to be the leader that I’ve tried to be,” Williams said. “All those guys in the locker room know, whatever they need from me, I’m always there for them. Whether it’s basketball or even in their personal lives.”

Borrego had nothing but praise for Williams on Monday at media day. For the second-year head coach, Williams is a shining example of what he wants his younger players to become.

“One of the things for our young guys is, ‘Look at Marvin.’ He’s an absolute pro. He brings it every single day,” Borrego said. “Marvin checks those boxes every single day. He comes into work. He takes this as his job, his profession… I’m going to expect him to lead us in that area. He knows that, he understands that. And I’ll do my best to help him on the floor, to maximize his minutes out there, make sure he’s productive and healthy.”