I’ve never been a ‘Derrick Williams’ guy. He’s an amazing athlete, no doubt, and when he’s playing well it looks so effortless. That is where a lot of fans’ frustration with his play develops. He’s the ultimate ‘why can’t you do this all of the time?’ player, and a big basketball pet peeve of mine is inconsistency. I’d rather play someone with less talent so long as their effort and contributions are somewhat predictable.
This is the basis of any Derrick Williams vs. Omri Casspi argument. They’ve been fighting each other for minutes all season, and I’ve put myself on Casspi’s side of the fence because he plays hard. Derrick Williams is clearly a more naturally gifted basketball player, but he is wildly inconsistent.
Both Casspi and Williams will be free agents at the end of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Kings let both players go so George Karl can handpick a few new players for his system. The Kings will keep one of them, tops.
Derrick Williams is starting to make a case for a new contract and a spot on this roster next season. I can’t believe I just typed that.
Sir Charles In Charge
In 44 games under Michael Malone and Tyrone Corbin, Derrick Williams averaged 6.6 PPG and 2.7 REB shooting .441 from the field, .271 from three, and .653 from the free throw line. In 11 games under George Karl, Williams is averaging 8.8 PPG and 2.1 REB shooting .464 from the field, .400 from three, and .840 from the free through line. His scoring and rebounding numbers are similar, but his efficiency under Karl has drastically improved.
Williams’ much-improved free throw shooting is harder to credit Karl for than his improved three-point shooting. Williams’ career free throw percentage is right around 70%. He was shooting below that before Karl, and above that after Karl, which I would attribute to having more confidence over anything else. If you are playing better (and he is), then your confidence is up and your free throw shooting should improve. On the flip side, free throws are more difficult when the rest of your game isn’t going well.
So how is Williams shooting .400 from beyond arc since Karl took over?
It’s not that complicated. Players generally shoot at a higher efficiency from the corners, and that is exactly where Williams has been killing teams from since the All-Star break.
Williams was shooting at a decent clip from the corners under Malone and Corbin, but he wasn’t being used in that spot nearly enough. He’s shot the exact same amount of corner threes under Karl in 11 games as he did in 44 games under Malone and Corbin. This is where Karl should get credit for recognizing a player’s strength’s and weaknesses, and then also having a system that can work around having that information. That reads to me like a complete change in philosophy on how certain coaches use certain players.
Williams is a decent transition player, so he’s helping the team in that regard, and when the Kings get into their half-court offense, he’s spending a lot more time in the corners as a safety valve for when DeMarcus Cousin is double-teamed, or as an easy option on drive and kicks. You can see some of that in his highlights from the Kings recent win in New York below.
It also helps that he’s playing a majority of his minutes with
, who is probably the best pure passer the Kings have had since
Williams is still a player without a true position (this has become less and less of a problem in today’s NBA), his rebounding isn’t nearly as good as it needs to be, and his defense must improve, but Karl is maximizing his offensive ability right now.
The truth is, any number of NBA players can sit in the corner and knock down threes at a decent clip, but adding that to the rest of Derrick Williams’ arsenal certainly makes him a more interesting player moving forward. If Karl already found a way to maximize his three-point shooting, what else can he fix? He is only 23 years old. It’s easy to forget that.
I’m not advocating for Williams’ future in Sacramento, I’m merely stating that it might be time to start paying attention to him again. Karl has found something that is working here. This 11 game sample size isn’t large enough to base future roster decisions on, but if Williams can keep this going for the remainder of the season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Kings re-sign him this summer.
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