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The Hidden Value of Alan Williams

A Film-Based look at why Big Sauce fits with the Suns Young Core

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Alan Williams is no longer the Suns best kept secret. As the NBA free agency period began on July 1st many teams are looking to bid with the Suns on the restricted free agent. Williams who began his Suns career as the end of the bench center and local fan favorite has been reported to have garnered an offer in the $20 Million range from the Phoenix Suns.

I’ll break down why Williams or to many Suns fans, “Big Sauce”, deserves every penny of his contract.

Williams is more than just a high energy big, he adds hidden value in a wide variety of areas, mainly creating passing angles for his teammates.

His running mate in the second unit this past season was the rookie point guard Tyler Ulis. The synergy between the two was apparent the second half of the season.

PicknRoll - Roll Man

The Corner PnR with Ulis had great success as teams were forced to hedge on Ulis creating the switch in the paint. Williams wide body and natural ability allows him to create the passing angle.

I am a big fan of the set as it allows both undersized players to play to their strengths. Watson realized this and added a new wrinkle with Ulis coming on an “Iverson” cut before running the PnR. Running the initial PnR with Bledsoe and Ulis creates another switch up top as well.

To bring out the set at the end of a close game shows you the faith the coaching staff has in Williams and Ulis.

The only defensive scheme teams have is to trap Ulis early and force a ball reversal to the weak side. Williams ability to finish on smaller guards after they switch the action makes it a pick your poison situation.

Similar action here but this time it is a Double Wing Spread PnR with Booker spacing the floor in the corner.

Oubre initially plays it well but again Williams wide body and ability to create the passing angle makes it difficult to contain the ball handler.

Double High PnR is a staple in the Watson offense. Majority of the time the ball handler drives left with a read to either attack or pass to the big at the three point line. Williams ability to finish in the paint gives the Suns another option.

The key is his activity to generate good low post position before the entry pass.

Great play design by Coach Watson in this set with screen the screener action, using Dudley to set a strong side pin down gets Mirotic away from the paint allowing Williams to get to his spot.

But this is Williams value in his ability to finish in the paint.

This is the 4-5 Motion PnR variation. Westbrook elects to go over the PnR and Kanter gets caught reaching on Ulis. Ulis ball handling ability to split and Williams finishing in the paint again creates a synergy between the pair.

Great attention to detail by reversing the layup while attacking Grant’s body. This is a good example of why Williams gets away with poor physical measurements.

Continuing with the theme of Williams and Ulis in PicknRoll sets Watson runs a 5-Out PnR in early offense.

Ulis’s ability to get Jennings on his hip forces Mahinmi to help. Williams does a good job of attacking the rim after Jennings is out of the action, a natural instinct.

Williams will also be an extremely valuable PnR partner for Devin Booker moving forward. As Booker is going to see more traps, Williams will have a chance to get to his spot in the paint.

Williams also has the ability to create second chances after misses.

The same idea is also true in motion sets with Booker and Williams.

Zeller elects to hedge left on Booker forcing him to hit Williams. Big Sauce might not have the most conventional way of scoring but I can’t stress how valuable that finish is going to be in the future playing with an offensive juggernaut like Devin Booker.

One Dribble Rhythm Hop Step finish.

Value in DHO Sets

Williams physical profile allows him to be an excellent commodity in various Dribble Hand Off Sets.

This is a basic Grenade DHO where the 5 takes two dribbles with a hand off to the PG. The key is having a capable 4 that can stretch the floor at the 3 point line. Dudley does well in getting Mirotic away from the paint.

The synergy between Ulis and Williams is unique. They make the action look a lot simpler than it is.

Princeton action this time where their is no dribble just a hand off to the guard from the high post.

This clip is from the same game as shown earlier where Zeller helps on Booker. The Booker - Williams pairing has a chance to be special with Williams quick finishing ability.

Grenade DHO with Booker will also work the majority of the time. Booker has not had the chance to play large minutes with a finisher such as Williams, Len and Chandler do not have the same ability.

I would love to see the Suns run these actions more with Booker - Williams next season.

The One-Dribble Hop Finish is a natural instinct.

Now the sneaky value Williams has that will not show up in the stat sheet is his ability to create an open jumper for the guard with his wide body.

He is one of the best in the entire NBA at this, many players do it but he does it with more aggression. Watch how he hands off the ball and immediately creates space on Bogdanovich. Little detail that makes a difference on a winning team.

Value in Transition

Williams is an undersized center but makes up for it with his effort and speed. His effort in transition fits right in with the position-less up tempo style the Suns want to play.

Barbosa finds a streaking Williams in transition. Josh Jackson is a great passer in transition, they should develop good chemistry next season.

Watson has hinted at Dragan Bender playing more of a Point Forward role moving forward. I think that is best for Bender and the Suns.

Bender is a gifted passer and Williams always runs the floor hard, their chemistry would be very unique, something I will touch on later.

This time he beats Kanter down the length of the floor. Suns have capable passers to find bigs that run hard, they just need an Alan Williams on the floor.

Same idea here with Booker. He has helped every member of the Suns young core and will in the future.

This is a good clip showing his sneaky feel for the game in transition. This is a tough touch pass to make in transition.

SLOB Series: Zipper BS

This is one of the most common action the Suns run in side line out of bounds situations. The action is designed to get T.J. Warren isolated from the top of the key.

Williams finishing ability around the dotted line pairs well with Warren. Sabonis has to hedge on Warren forcing OKC to help one pass away.

An improvement I would like to see is Williams making the extra pass to Bender in the corner once Abrines helps one pass away.

Same action here but this time Williams sets the screen. His wide body brings great value to the Suns in these sets.

Early Offense: Pistol Curl

This is a Pistol set from 2016 in early offense where the lead guard Goodwin pitches the ball to the 3 in Budinger, then releases to the strong side corner. Williams sets a curl screen on the weak side. His wide body naturally forces the defender onto Teletovic’s hip something tremendously valuable in Watson’s offense

The attention to detail on the finish by attacking the defender’s body is key.

Hidden Value: The Offensive Rebound Putback

Going back to the earlier theme of Williams getting his defender on his hip as the roll man, this allows sneaky value in offensive rebounding. An energy play that can generate momentum in a game is something that will not show up on the stat sheet.

As the Suns do not call many plays for him, Williams is known for his energy on the offensive boards, valuable skill on a winning team.

Synergy with Dragan Bender

As shown earlier Dragan Bender and Alan Williams would have a unique chemistry on the court. Bender’s size and passing ability coupled with Williams ability to create angles is going to help both of them moving forward.

This is a ATO set designed to get the HI LO Entry into Williams. The ability to move Tolliver makes the pass 10x easier for Bender.

This another designed action where the Suns get Bender the ball in the High Post. Both are unique, gives the Suns something special moving forward.

The Dragan Bender angle is definitely one of the most important hidden value aspects of Alan Williams.

Defensive Instincts

Williams does not have the greatest physical abilities to defend as a center in the NBA, but he makes up for it with his instincts.

This is a prime example of how he is able to provide some help side shot blocking keeping his eyes on Gibson. Perfect timing.

The length and vertical jump is not there but the timing allows him to block Gibson again.

End of Game Value

Williams does the little things that will not show up on the stat sheet. This is my favorite play he has had in his career.

The hard screen on Smart forces him to the floor, this minor detail allows Williams to get the offensive rebound as Smart is not able to come back into the action.

Obviously he has not had a chance to play many end of game situations, but that extra effort can make the difference between a win and a loss.

In my view Alan Williams is the perfect fit for what the Suns are trying to build. He fits with the young core and has a unique ability to create passing angles for his teammates. Big Sauce has proved he belongs on the court and it is on the Suns management to prove they can match any offer sheet for the fan favorite.

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