AGR POW: JYD

Jerome Williams was a man before his time. He played his last NBA minutes in ’04-’05, narrowly missing the explosion of obsessive outsider basketball analysis that undoubtedly would’ve made him an internet phenomenon. Sad, because there may not exist a player in recent memory who encompasses more bloggable qualities. He had an awesome nickname, a gregarious personality, and was far more productive in advanced statistical categories than traditional ones. The Junkyard Dog (or JYD) was a perfect storm.

The DC native was given his nickname by Rick Mahorn during his early years for the Pistons, who took him 26th overall out of Georgetown in the ’96 Draft. JYD carved out a niche for himself in Detroit with grit, hustle, and an otherworldly rebound rate (league-high 21.7% in ’99-’00). He also led the league in offensive rebound rate 2 years running, the lockout-shortened ’98-’99 as well as ’99-’00. So good was JYD on the offensive glass that he posted offensive ratings of 117, 118, and 119 in consecutive seasons in Detroit without ever averaging as many as 12 points per 36 minutes. That only scratches the surface of how much advanced stats love Jerome Williams, though. Here’s how he fared vs. highly regarded power forward but otherwise somewhat arbitrary comparison player Kevin Garnett on Win Shares/48 during the 5-year period beginning with Williams’ rookie year (Garnett’s 2nd):

———————-—–KG—————–JYD

’96-’97                    .116                      .049

’97-’98                    .143                     .166

’98-’99                    .146                     .201

’99-’00                    .172                     .174

’00-’01                    .146                     .141

We’re just as sick as you are of the tired Garnett or Jerome Williams debate, but just some food for thought, anyway. It’s kind of ironic, actually, because JYD is exactly the type of player of whom announcers love to say “what he does doesn’t show up in the box score.” True, but that’s just the nature of the standard box score. Williams’ stats were excellent; they just weren’t the stats anybody was paying attention to at the time.

JYD’s career came to an unceremonious end when Isiah Thomas waived him from the Knicks shortly before the start of the ’05-’06 season to avoid the luxury tax. His talents weren’t totally unappreciated in his time, though. His work ethic and enthusiasm made him a fan favorite in each of his 4 NBA stops, particularly his longer tenures in Detroit and Toronto. It’s a cliché that they don’t track Heart on the scoresheet. Still, I’d venture to say that JYD’s Heart tally would be totally ordinary, but after adjusting for pace and converting to a per-minute rate, his Heart Rate would’ve been one of the best in the league. And if they kept stats for how high players wear their socks or how often they refer to themselves in the third person during interviews, he would’ve been an elite performer in those categories, too. We salute you.

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One Response to AGR POW: JYD

  1. Hello AGR,
    Wow, you guys did your homework on this one. A fan in Toronto brought this article to my attention so I thought I would drop a quick thank you note. The KG comparison is well displayed and our classic battles on the court truly got my “dog Blood” boiling…lol He is a great competitor. Just like KG, I too hate to lose! The two of us walk a thin line because our emotions can sometimes be misinterpreted. My DoggPound kept me going for nine years in the NBA. After my eighth year and three trades, I started feeling that I now needed an energy boost and Madison Square Garden brought me some much needed out of control DoggPound fans. I played injured 50 of the 77 games my ninth season as a Knick. It killed me not to be 100% the majority of the season. I felt like I had to give more. My teammates were talented but not as focused as I would have liked. We should have made the playoffs in 05′. Kurt Thomas was a true captain. Allan Houston showed grit with his relenting pursuit to get back on the court and help the team. Stephon Marbury was unable to learn how leaders need to multi-task in a locker room filled with talent and egos the size of NYC. Ultimately, these factors along with the relentless temptations of the Big Apple caused me to hang up my JYD sneaks. I battled my thoughts because I can still be that “Junk Yard Dog” on the court, but I was not going to be a typical NBA player wasting a tremendous blessing on reckless behavior. Isiah never made me except the deal, he wanted me to play. I prayed for that deal because I knew I had a lot of work to do out here. From NBA boardrooms to high school classrooms, I’m here to try to build thoughts in our young people that they too can live the dream the right way! It just takes a little bit of hard work!!!

    Thanks for reading….
    your friend,

    Jerome “JUNK YARD DOG” Williams

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