When coach Erik Spoelstra on Tuesday likened player turnover in the NBA to that on college and high school teams, no one on the Heat understood him better than Shawne Williams.
Williams landed in Miami, his fifth team in his seven-year career, after splitting last season between the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA’s Developmental League.
He knows better than to assume he has job security.
“I wouldn’t say it’s ‘stability,’” Williams said on how he feels after logging significant minutes so far in Miami. “Because, at the end of the day, you can never be lax or take a breath because it’s a revolving door. That’s just the business and the nature of this league.”
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But in a somewhat unexpected turn — more than once have different Heat players said Williams “has come a long way” — the swingman got his fourth preseason start Tuesday in Miami’s victory against Houston.
Projected regular-season starter Josh McRoberts (toe) continues to be day-to-day, and, in the meantime, Williams has proven to be a dependable replacement option for Speolstra.
It’s probable that Williams could start at power forward in Wednesday’s season opener.
“We’ve always liked him because of his versatility,” Spoelstra said. “Obviously, he stretches the floor, but he’s in great shape, he committed to our program this summer and he’s got a toughness to him. We felt that if he could learn our defensive system then he could fit into our style of play.”
Williams not only pleased his coaches by shedding 25 pounds over the summer — “You don’t want to be fat down here with this good weather,” he joked — but he’s also usually right up there with Chris Bosh when it comes to rebounding. He is averaging five rebounds per game. And, most importantly, he is delivering exactly what the Heat signed him for — spacing.
But despite his success in the starting lineup, Williams knows full well the depth chart will change when McRoberts is cleared to play.
So the newbie is focused on proving both his value and commitment to the Heat, rather than fighting for the starting spot.
“I’m laid back off that. I don’t get involved in starting; it’ll be good to start — that’s a good accomplishment — but at the end of the day, I want to win,” Williams said.
“If you win, everybody looks good, the people who don’t play and the people who play. I just want to play my role and play my role as best I can.”
THE SURVEY SAYS …
The NBA released its annual general managers’ survey Wednesday, and results show the Heat has fallen from its place at the top of the heap, according to the league’s GMs.
Last season, Miami was the top vote to win both the Eastern Conference and the NBA Finals.
This season, Cleveland and defending NBA champion San Antonio were predicted to take home those respective titles, and the Heat was predicted to finish second to Washington in the Southeast Division.
Although Spoelstra received votes for “Which head coach runs the best offense,” no Heat players received top billing in any individual category.
General managers have high expectations for Eastern Conference rival Chicago, which had the most votes for the best defensive team in the league and placed highly in categories including probable NBA champions and most improved team.
LeBron James took home the most votes in the most individual categories, including most athletic and best franchise player.