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Better Know a Knick: Shawne Williams

In October, Will authored a series of posts entitled "Better Know a Knick." He profiled the eleven Knicks most likely to actually see the floor, and did so with aplomb. None of these eleven Knicks were six-foot-nine guard-forward Shawne Williams, for obvious reasons. Williams, the former first-round pick out of Memphis whose career was derailed by multiple drug-related arrests, was a fringe player battling for the team's fifteenth and final roster spot. His competition for that spot was the beloved and nominally preferable Patrick Ewing Jr. Williams wasn't going to make the team, and even if he did, he wouldn't play in a Knick rotation well-stocked at his position. Well, he did, and he does.

After improbably outlasting mini-Ewing and signing a full year's deal, Williams quietly took a spot on the bench. He came to practice, high-fived when appropriate, and changed from suit to jersey whenever somebody got hurt and the team needed an extra man in uniform, in case of emergency. On November 19, a tussle between Williams and Bill Walker generated headlines but was forgotten soon thereafter. It ended up being a sign of things to come.

With Walker struggling to match his shooting prowess with energy and defensive effort, Mike D'Antoni diverted some of the guard's minutes to Williams in the second quarter of New York's double overtime win in Detroit. After an uneventful debut and some garbage minutes in the next game, Williams played twenty minutes last Friday and has pretty much usurped Walker's spot in the rotation since that point. (It bears mentioning that Walker reportedly has a sore knee. Whatever.)

So, now that he's playing, it's probably time to get to know Shawne Williams. To start, that's not a typo. That extra e in his first name stands for "effort," "efficiency," "eggplant," or "Ellen Barkin," depending on what he's doing. In his three games of extended spin, the Man With the Extra E has been damn near perfect. He's converted ten of his twelve three-point attempts, and done so with a uniquely inert, low-rise shooting form that has been affectionately dubbed (like all good things, via typo) "pooping from the corner." Shawne does more than just poop in corners, though. (See? It's a delightful phrase to use.) In each of his last three games, Williams has been spotted finishing in transition, swinging the ball when he sees an open teammate, and, most important, providing defensive help in the paint. It seems like every legitimate playoff team has a guy who hits open threes and defends, and, as has been noted elsewhere, Williams is showing signs that he could emerge as that kind of player.

Three games do not a rotation player make, but things are looking up for this young Knick. Even when if his three-point percentage dips below 80 percent, Shawne's energy, enthusiasm, and ... uh ... ectoplasm suggest that he could play a significant role on the playoff-hopeful Knicks. At the very least, he's a Knick worth getting to know.

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Photo: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic