The numbers indicate that Mark Williams needs to be a full-time starter
Last season, Coach Clifford implemented a wild committee structure for the center spot throughout the year. Mason Plumlee started 56 games for the team while all of Williams, Nick Richards, and Kai Jones, saw backup minutes and extended playing time through the first two-thirds of the season.
After Mason Plumlee was dealt at the trade deadline, Coach Clifford still did not commit to Williams being the surefire starter, and instead, Hornets fans found out that Williams, Richards, and Jones were going to rotate at C for the rest of season with two playing each game and one sitting out. While Richards did have some good starts and Jones showed intriguing flashes, it was Williams who stood out of the bunch and made the biggest impact.
Down the stretch of the season, in the games that Williams started and played 29+ minutes in, the Hornets were 6-2 (75% win rate). Across the season, Charlotte was 9-30 (23% win rate) when Williams did not play. He proved to be a menace inside, averaging 11.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 26.9 minutes per game as a starter. He recorded ten double-doubles in those starts as well, including an 18-point, 20-rebound performance against the Heat and a 22-point (on 9-10 shooting), 10-rebound, 2-block performance in his final start of the season against the Cavs.
The advanced stats loved Williams’ play too. He led the Hornets in defensive rating (110), was 1st on the team in total rebound percentage (19.6%) and defensive rebound percentage (27.7%), 2nd on the team in effective field goal percentage (63.7%), 3rd on the team in box plus/minus (+0.1), and 4th on the team in VORP (0.4). Essentially, he was incredibly effective for the Hornets, and the more they played him, the better the team was in 2022-2023.
Kai Jones is now away from the team indefinitely after his off-season outbursts, but Nick Richards is still with the team and recently signed his multi-season extension for 3 years-$15 million. Despite this, with nearly all of the rest of the Hornets’ core being offensive-minded players, Williams is the defense force that they need down low if they want any shot at breaking their seven-year playoff drought.