In part two of a four-part series for the WNBA “More than Undefeatable” campaign, the second edition focuses on Gabby Williams of the Seattle Storm.
Basketball is incredibly alluring for its sheer variance. The movement of the ball and the connectivity of the team at their greatest heights are wonderful. An isolation marker with every move in the book, smooth handles and a silky finish can be just as dazzling. A fully synchronized five-man unit on the defensive end, pre-rotating, moving as one and suffocating in the half court suffocates for the opposition but puts a smile on the fans’ faces.
There is no one way to play basketball that is right. Even with ten players on the pitch, the individualism, flair, style and technique shine through. I’d be hard pressed to find a player who blends the individual and team facets of basketball better than Seattle Storm’s Gabby Williams, a holistic hoop with a penchant for inventive play.
“I just try to mesh myself,” Williams says.
“I don’t like to box myself or describe a certain thing I do or what kind of player I am; I just try to help the team in any way I can. I get the Swiss army knife analogy a lot, and that’s the kind of thing I try to be.
And that’s exactly what the Storm needed and envisioned when they made the trade to Williams this offseason. Filling out the starting lineup at the small forward position, Williams found more stability after constant role changes with the Chicago Sky.
She missed last season in the W after a contract suspension due to her national team commitments and was later traded to the Los Angeles Sparks, one of two teams she was looking to be traded to, the other being Seattle. .
“My few years in Chicago were really tough for me…having to play point guard and then switch positions every other day. It was really tough for me to find a rhythm, but I did it because the he team needed me, and I think I grew and learned a lot.”
Playing in France helped Williams regain his joy of playing, returning to playing more on the wing. She could resume her game and feel comfortable on the court again. She helped France reach the podium at the Tokyo Olympics, winning the bronze medal and a second place at EuroBasket.
Williams was born and raised in the United States, but her mother is French, so France is a home away from home.
“I know a lot of players find it difficult to be abroad, but I have no problem with that. I mean, most of my family is in France. I’m someone who tries to embrace the culture, to enjoy being there, so I feel lucky at 25 to have been able to live in so many different places and experience so many different things that some people cannot live entire lives.
When Williams got the call about another potential trade with the Storm, she was thrilled. She had played at UConn with Breanna Stewart. She played with Briann January in Sopron, her team in Hungary. Jantel Lavender had played in Chicago for one season alongside Williams.
Seattle was a new environment, but there was already an established connection; she was not completely unknown to her teammates.
As the Storm looked to recharge for Sue Bird’s last season, Williams fit the bill for what the Storm sometimes lacked: more athleticism on the wing, some secondary ball handling, good decision-making and a stopper. defensive. As this Seattle team continued to evolve throughout the season, so did Williams’ role.
“I feel like this season it’s been more gradual, I’m just trying to learn from everyone, to learn what I can do, especially coming into a team that was already established. on the other hand, there are things that I can do that you don’t have to teach. Running in transition, playing good defense, rebounding. So you add the other things little by little, and the team has also started to find me.
We’re getting to the point where the question is more about what Williams can’t do.
To start the season, she was mostly off the ball. Williams is a willing shooter, but with a career 25.1% from deep, defenses are ready to help her. Noelle Quinn and the Storm coaching staff turned that into a weapon in a way.
Although not the team’s true primary guard, Williams is used as a hub to launch the offense. She leads the break, brings the ball up out of bounds and creates sets in the half court. It descends quickly and has phenomenal overtaking vision at wing level.
Giving her the power with the ball in her hands and allowing her to pick up the pace and tempo forces defenses to protect her as if she were a shooting threat. That, in turn, allows Seattle’s best shooters to leave the ball and use them as outlets in moves that move the defense. It’s different when Sue Bird or Jewell Loyd, two of the sport’s most dynamic shooters, can come out of a variety of off-ball screens and actions to mask what they’re going to do on the ball.
Look at this.
Sue Bird screens Tina Charles, who screens her, who also gets a pin from Breanna Stewart. Charles clears Alysha Clark, Bird’s defender, Shakira Austin swims over Bird’s screen to stay between Charles and the basket, and Myisha Hines-Allen is attached to Stewart because she is an MVP candidate and her fire green extends to all areas of the pitch.
With his size, vision and ability to make various passes or take his defender out of the dribble, Williams makes this set possible by fully occupying an All-Defensive level player in Natasha Cloud. Get away from Williams to clear safety and clutter the lane, and she’ll perform an impromptu DHO. Maybe she’ll take you off the dribble anyway and force a spin before a quick pass and relocation to the perimeter. His mix of skills on this team is deadly, the perfect addition to a star roster.
Williams loves basketball, but that doesn’t define her. As she mentioned about her acting, you can’t put her in a box. She is a Marvel fanatic, avid manga reader, and anime watcher.
She has a separate Twitter account strictly for the anime (@mochatrapuccino) and loves being able to get away from the hoops when she’s not on the court.
“It was fun to find a weeb community (anime lovers) and post my recs, see what other people were getting, get away from basketball, but not get away from the occasion to speak.”
Williams wanted a place where she could talk about anime without talking about basketball. When she tweeted about what she was watching on her main account, she regularly received questions about basketball or had comments unrelated to what she was talking about. She doesn’t hold that against people, it’s her job and her life, but she wanted a place without her profile picture or name attached where she could find mutuals and communicate not to mention basketball.
“It’s definitely a big part of my identity and one of my biggest hobbies,” Williams says.
She loves Attack on Titan; his profile picture for his secondary account is Captain Levi, a main character in the series.
What’s on Williams’ watch list?
“Of course, Attack on Titan is an all-time GOATed series that everyone must watch, whether you watch anime or not.”
She also highly recommends Dororo; a rehash of the original 1969 series is on Amazon Prime.
Samurai Champloo is also considered a must-have watch, says Williams. “It kinda reminds me of the book the alchemist. It’s about the journey, not the destination. So if you need introspection and inspiration, watch Samurai Champloo.
She grew up on Pokemon, Yugi-Oh, and Dragon Ball Z and ended up immersing herself in them more, finding new series outside of the mainstream. She laughs, reminiscing about the 100 anime you must watch list she made on notes.
Williams compared herself to Captain America in an interview during her senior season at UConn. I asked if that had changed in the half-decade since then.
“I would definitely consider myself more of a black widow now. I think she’s so much more low-key, and she does. But you don’t always notice it. Like me too, I like to stay under the radar. Especially since as I get older, I feel more and more introverted (laughs). I mean, I already was, but I was staying more and more under the radar.
It’s an apt description of the character and her own demeanor, but I’d say it understates her game. She’s constantly working the court, always on the move, diving for loose balls, forcing turnovers, causing deflections and doing the details in Storm’s attack to make things click. Even though her playing is understated, it appears consistent, as she does the quiet parts so well that the results can be deafening. His presence and impact helped make the Storm a more complete title contender.
Gabby Williams’ journey has literally taken her all over the world. She is more than invincible for her adaptability. Carving out a spot in the W and becoming an X-Factor on a championship-caliber team didn’t happen overnight. It took changes in the environment and regaining his passion for the game to thrive.
You can’t put Gabby Williams in a box on or off the field. She knows who she is and the Storms have taken advantage of that throughout the season. Although she may have gone under the radar for much of the year, the silent margins of the game that Gabby manipulates amplify in the playoffs. One of the stars of Round 1 opener, eagerly awaits Williams to continue to print his game with defensive slides, deflections and intuitive plays into offense as the Storm look to advance to Round 2 playoffs.
WNBA reporter Mark Schindler writes a column on WNBA.com throughout the season and can be reached on Twitter at @MG_Schindler. The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the WNBA or its clubs.