The Best of a Bad Situation: 9. Mo Williams

(We’re counting down the best 20 Bucks since 1991 over the next few weeks. It’s something to do with the lockout sucking the life out of NBA fans. We continue with number 9. Mo Williams. My favorite Mo-ment was from a me-MO-rable victory that seemed like it could Mo-tivate Milwaukee (YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!).

Williams dramatic game winning in the video below capped one of the most memorable Bucks games I’ve ever been to in my life. Milwaukee was down 20-some points to a pre-brawl Pacers team that looked like a title contender. But, some how, they came back. Most of the arena had cleared out in the late third-early fourth quarter, but those of us left tossed our complimentary calenders given out at the door that day in the air like hats at a graduation ceremony when Mo hit that buzzer beater. Or at least whoever was at the game with me and I did. We’ll always have that, Mo. – Jeremy)

The best thing Larry Harris ever did as Bucks GM went largely unnoticed.

Associated Press:

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks acquired guard Maurice “Mo” Williams after the Utah Jazz did not match the offer.

Williams, a restricted free agent signed an offer sheet with the Bucks on Aug. 6.

Williams, 21, spent the 2003-04 season with the Jazz, where he appeared in 57 games and averaged 5.0 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.

Kudos to Harris. In fact, up to that point in his tenure, Harris hadn’t been too bad of a GM. From when he was hired through 2004, he waived Anthony Mason, re-signed Toni Kukoc, traded a disappointing Tim Thomas and nabbed the hilarious Zaza Pachulia in the 2004 draft. Sometime after 2004, Milwaukee’s beer fumes got to him and he clearly should have been issued a DUI.

But he’ll always have the Mo signing. Just the first one though. Mo’s second contract wasn’t that great.

The signing wasn’t a genius move by Harris. It was just fortuitous and a result of necessity. TJ Ford was lost for the season and the Bucks needed to fill the point guard position. In August, Williams came to the team along with point guard Mike James. Williams won the right to start because James wasn’t healthy early in the season. Even when James recovered, Williams kept the starting gig, but his minutes ranged from 42 a game to 11. Before that season’s trade deadline, he averaged 8.8 points in 29.6 minutes per game. James was traded at the deadline and the lack of depth at the point guard position saw William’s minutes rise to 32.4 a game. Williams wasn’t at the Michael Redd’s or Desmond Mason’s level, but he was the only other player who was irreplaceable at his position that season. With the increased minutes he averaged 11.5 points per game.

Ford returned next season and Williams lost the starting point guard spot, but his role arguably became more important. Instead of being a starter for a dreg, he was the sixth man for a playoff team. He was instant offense. That year he was second in per 36 minutes scoring average on the team with 16.5 a game. He was showing flashes of what he was about to become: a poor man’s Mike Bibby (Bibby from his early Kings days, not the sub-human thing that Bibby is now).

Williams’s signature Bucks moment came that season as well. In the fifth game of the season, the Bucks had been down the entire time against the Pacers. Ford had played 40 minutes, but fouled out near the end. Good for the Bucks because Williams never would have played crunch time in that game and never would have hit that 30-footer for the win. I’ll never forget that game. Not for any sentimental reasons, but because my friends were there and will never let me forget it.

The team was confident in Williams as the starter and traded Ford. With Williams as the starter for two seasons, the Bucks won 29 and 23 games respectively. Those win totals were not in any way Williams fault. It was mostly Harris’s fault and some inopportune injuries. Mo performed extremely well. His 17 points a game with a .480 FG% and 385 3P% is a model of efficiency compared to what Brandon Jennings does now.

Ian Segovia is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter, fan us up on Facebook.

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