A Barometer for Success: How important Kenny Williams is to UNC’s offense

Kenny Williams is in the midst of a really nice junior season for North Carolina. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard plays heavy minutes for a top 20 team, and has emerged as one of the ACC’s top two-way players. Williams is an excellent three-point shooter, which is augmented by his defensive ability on the other end of the floor.

However, in some games, Kenny Williams — a low-usage player — can go almost unnoticed on offense. That’s not a good thing for the Tar Heels.


Gone but not forgotten

In North Carolina’s seven losses this season, Williams has shot just 37 percent from the field — 30 percent from downtown — and averaged 8.6 points. Williams has a combined effective field goal rate of 45.4 percent.

Over the team’s recent three-game losing slide, which was snapped Saturday against Pitt (The Cam Johnson Bowl), Williams went 5-of-16 from the field (in 89 minutes), and 1-of-9 on three-pointers. He scored a combined 14 points, 4.7 per game, across those three contests.

Admittedly, this is a bit of small-sample size theatre, and it wasn’t UNC’s offense that proved costly in those game, but it’s still worth taking note of.

Williams has connected on more than 40 percent of his three-point attempts in only one of UNC’s losses this season — the road defeat at Virginia.


Fly the W(illiams)

On the other side of the coin, though: Kenny Williams has been really freaking good in the team’s 17 wins. While shooting  51.3 percent from the field, and 42.9 percent on three-pointers, Williams has averaged 12.2 points in UNC’s victories. He has an effective field goal rate of 62.2 percent in those 17 games, which would rank inside the top five of the ACC.

For the season, Williams has scored 1.2 points per possession (44.6 FG%) on spot-ups, per Synergy Sports. There are 60 ACC players this season with at least 50 spot-up possessions, and of this group, Williams ranks 10th in terms of efficiency.

North Carolina has several strong perimeter shooting options — Joel Berry, Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson — but when Theo Pinson drives, or the Heels decided to play through the post, Williams should be a kick-out priority.

Williams is one of the best in the ACC at moving without the ball; according to Synergy, Williams is shooting 46.5 percent on attempts after coming off a screen — 1.12 points per possession, No. 7 in the ACC (minimum of 20 possessions).


Finding other ways to contribute

For the second straight season, Williams has seen his three-point shooting dip in conference play — 16-of-57, 28.1 percent. However, he’s still found ways to add to UNC’s offense, which ranks 15th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency.

According to KenPom, Williams ranks 17th in the ACC in individual offensive rating — 117.6 points per 100 possession — in conference games. This is because Williams takes care of the basketball (13.5 percent turnover rate) and has sizzled on two-point attempts. Williams is 23-of-36 (63.9 FG%) inside the arc, which ranks fourth in league.


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