Last Question of Indiana’s Offseason to be Answered by Troy Williams

Dec 2, 2015; Durham, NC, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward Troy Williams (5) drives to the basket against Duke Blue Devils center Marshall Plumlee (40) in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2015; Durham, NC, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward Troy Williams (5) drives to the basket against Duke Blue Devils center Marshall Plumlee (40) in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports /

An offseason that was supposed to see a lot of potential movement regarding the Indiana basketball roster has been rather mild, unless you consider the loss of walk-on Harrison Niego as a major loss [Ed. Note: We do].  The full potential of the 2016-2017 Hoosier basketball team should be determined with the decision of Troy Williams in the up and coming days.

With Thomas Bryant’s announcement earlier this week to stay for his sophomore season, the 2016-2017 Hoosiers have essentially guaranteed a spot in the preseason top 25. If Troy Williams opts to stay at Indiana for his senior season, the Hoosiers may even crack the top five in next year’s preseason polls.  So for now let’s review why the decision of Troy Williams means so much for next years squad by looking at what he did in 2015-2016.

Going into the 2015-2016 campaign most IU fans hoped Troy Williams would make a Victor Oladipo-esque jump, considering how much the players had been compared since Williams enrolled.  Oladipo burst onto the scene and then entered the NBA draft to be a top five pick.  Unfortunately Williams didn’t make that jump this year, but that’s not to say he had a bad year.

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Offensive Game

Offensively Troy Williams made very subtle movement from his first two years.  Depending on which way you look at it could alter your view on the athletic wing.  All major categories like assist rate, turnover rate, and shot percentages slightly changed if at all. Essentially Troy Williams was consistently inconsistent, just like his first two years.  Playing basically the same minutes and being used at about the same rate Williams’ offensive production didn’t really increase, and according to KenPom’s offensive rating he actually saw a dip in total production.

Williams’ turnover rate increased, which is likely a positive correlation between his slight increase in minutes and usage. The best part of Troy Williams’s growth was his three point shooting percentage. Over his first two years he shot a combined 12 of 42 from deep, good for 28.5 percent. That was the area where Williams needed to grow and he did, improving that mark to 26 of 75 (34.7 percent) in 2015-16. Sorry to burst all of the Troy haters’ bubbles, he is good enough to shoot threes. If not for the increase in his three point percentage it likely would have been a much easier decision for Troy to return for his senior season.

The best part of Troy Williams’ game that most people may not pay attention to is his ability to draw fouls.  While most common Indiana basketball fans commented negatively on Troy Williams’ usage, his ability to draw fouls was a major key for Indiana offensively. This was especially useful when Yogi Ferrell wasn’t in the game and Robert Johnson was dealing with his ankle issues late in the year.  I was in the group of “Troy is being used to much” until the Big Ten season when Troy Williams was the difference because of his unique ability to slice through double teams and screen hedges. While there would be turnovers on some plays, there would be other games like the Iowa game in Assembly Hall and Kentucky in the Round of 32 where teams couldn’t match up with his combination of speed, length and athleticism.  The effect of Troy drawing about six fouls per 40 minutes meant that opposing teams had to respect him, which helped open up the court for the remainder of the team.

Defensive Game

Much like his offensive game, Williams’ defense didn’t really make a major jump.  His rebounding rate decreased slightly, but I would associate that with the fact that 7-foot freshman Thomas Bryant was there to clean the glass rather than saying Troy got worse at rebounding.

Troy has all of the tools to become an elite defender, but simply couldn’t put it together this year.  Williams’ percentage of blocked shots on defensive possessions made a major jump from 1.7 percent to 3.1 percent, this unfortunately just reflected his ability to block shots instead of his ability to defend.  Troy did a great job blocking shots, but most of his blocks came from being beat on a driving play. He then would use his length and athleticism to catch up and block shots from behind.

There would be times where he would be standing upright and not down in a defensive stance, which allowed much less athletic players to just drive by him. This in turn would create situations where others would need to help him and leave opposing players either open or in better positions to make plays for their teammates.

Williams’ length did provide him with the ability to deflect passes in the passing lane, making it easier to get steals and create transition opportunities for the high-octane Indiana offense.

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Final Thoughts 

Troy Williams for the past two years has easily been one of the most important cogs for the Hoosiers.  It’d be safe the say the only player who Indiana relied on more was Yogi Ferrell over that span.

When Troy is good, Indiana is good. When Troy is bad, Indiana is bad.

That is all you need to know about Troy. The inconsistent aspect of his game have been the only thing standing between him and being a lottery pick in the NBA draft.

In my opinion Troy Williams is no closer to being an NBA talent than he was at this point last year.  But that doesn’t mean he is a finished product.  Most NBA mock drafts have him going undrafted, but making a team because of his known talents.  Troy should try and stay one more year and work on cutting his turnovers down, learn to play strong defense without needing to bail himself out with his athleticism, and the ability to play a controlled game.  If he does that he will be a lottery pick with All-Star potential in the NBA.

If Troy is to return for his senior year he will be the anchor of what could be one of the best frontcourts in college basketball. Imagine the balance of the 2016-2017 team with the guard play of RoJo, Blackmon, Pitt transfer Josh Newkirk and 4-star combo guard Curtis Jones. Then add the front court of Troy Williams, Thomas Bryant, and five star shot blocking recruit De’Ron Davis.  That alone is a great college team before even adding the return of bench players Collin Hartman, OG Anunoby, and Juwan Morgan.

If Troy doesn’t return, the 2016-2017 Hoosiers will still be very good and should be a top-four team in the Big Ten.

If Troy returns for the 2016-2017 season, there’s a realistic shot the team can get to Phoenix next April.