Early on last season, Lakers forward and two-way signee Johnathan Williams proved to be a huge boost to the roster. The team was in desperate need of a back-up big man and for a few games, Williams stepped in and played some excellent basketball. However, the nature of his two-way deal limited the amount of NBA service time Williams could accrue and as a result, the Lakers wound up grabbing Tyson Chandler off the buyout market to permanently fill the void.
However, as injuries piled up and the season rolled on, Williams would get plenty of more time to showcase his improving skill set. Despite lacking ideal size, Williams’ athleticism allows him to play either the power forward or center positions and while his numbers won’t blow anyone out of the water, he averaged a very respectable 15.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per 36 minutes last season in the NBA.
Former Lakers Forward Johnathan Williams Inks Deal With Israel’s Maccabi Rishon LeZion
The promise shown by Williams in his first season was apparently not enough for any team to decide to take a flier on the Gonzaga project as Williams was announced to be taking his talents overseas. Joining Israel’s Maccabi Rishon LeZion for an undisclosed amount, Williams looks to take on a much larger role and entice NBA squads to take another shot on him.
While Williams seems to have a game tailor-made for the modern NBA, it should be interesting to see how the big man adjusts to playing European basketball. Williams showed a strong foundation as the roll man in pick and roll schemes while using his athleticism to take advantage of sleeping defenders in transition. However, European basketball is considerably more structured than its American counterpart and while Williams thrived in the free-flowing American basketball system – where his athleticism was able to shine – it should be interesting to see how he adjusts to things like an increased emphasis on floor spacing in half-court sets.
While floor-spacing has started to become an area of importance in the NBA over the past few years, structured and disciplined off-ball play has been a staple of European Leagues for considerably longer – likely due to their reliance on more of a team-based approach compared to the star-power of American basketball.
Lakers Still Waiting to Fill Final Roster Spot
Although Williams seems to have thrown in the towel on the NBA this season, the Lakers are among a few teams that still have available space on their roster to add another free agency signing. For the time being, it seems the team is sitting put in order to keep an eye on the Andre Iguodala situation as Iggy looks to be the Lakers’ top priority. That said, Iguodala is not a free agent and would need to be bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies in order for the Lakers to have a shot. With a shave over $17 million on his deal this coming season, the Lakers cannot afford to trade for Iguodala and eat the contract meaning that they need Memphis to strike out in trade negotiations with other teams – if there even is anyone considering taking on Iguodala’s $17 million this season.
Should the Lakers strike out on Iggy, there are a number of veteran players looking for one last shot and as a presumed title contender, the Lakers offer an enticing destination to go ring-chasing for any aging vet.