Derrick Williams Has Finally Been Re-Born


Remember the time when Derrick Williams was supposed to be a stud coming out of the University of Arizona four years ago? You might not know, but Pepperidge Farm remembers.

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Williams was hyped up as one of the top prospects in the 2011 NBA Draft, and was the 2nd overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves, the highest draft selection in the history of that franchise.

I mean, what was not to like about Williams? He was coming off of a sophomore year in which he averaged 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the field, including a mindboggling 56 percent from three-point land; and for his college career in Tucson, he was a 17 point/nearly eight rebound a game player. No wonder the Wolves were quick to snatch him up.

Williams was supposed to be one of the bedrocks of the (still) rebuilding Wolves, but sometimes hype can supersede reality, and Williams became a prime example of that saying.

Remember that 19 point/8 rebound showing in his sophomore year at Arizona? Those numbers plummeted in his rookie season to 8.8 points and a paltry 4.7 rebounds a game. And his shooting percentages was the equivalent of a bus driving off the cliff, exploding on impact on railroad tracks, and a train colliding into it and blowing up the train and the bus for good measure.

I know I’m being a tad bit dramatic, but it was that bad.

He started out as a starter, and finished his rookie season on the bench. “But hey, he was a rookie, he will rebound!” the inept Wolves management figured out. He did rebound, slightly, to 10 points a game in Year 2. But has numbers were still far below what the Wolves had in mind, and in Year 3, Williams regressed so much that Minnesota finally pulled the plug, trading him to Sacramento before the 2014 trade deadline.

Williams started out smoking for the Kings, but he soon began to regress in his new home as well, and for the money he was making, many NBA pundits, including yours truly, was beginning to believe that Williams would never live up to his lofty potential.

Enter George Karl.

When Karl came on as the third Kings coach this season, Williams may have finally found a coach that got him and got his game. Williams is shooting the highest percentage of his career so far (45 percent), and although his three-point shooting still has a ways to go, under Karl, that aspect of his game has showed signs of revival as well.

Before Karl, I wrote in a Kings Swag column that Williams should had been included in any trade the Kings were proposing; but now after watching him perform under Karl, I fully believe that he can be an intangible part of the re-build here in Sacramento.

Yes, Williams may not be the star that we all thought he would become, but he gained something more under Karl. He now knows his role on the team, and now has a coach that is willing to give him a chance and put him in a position to be a major contributor, something he never had in Minnesota nor in his early days in Sacramento.

So let’s hope that Williams can continue his upward swing, and be one of the main cogs on a Kings team that is looking to get back to respectability; because God knows, Sacramento need to have a similar re-birth as Williams has experienced.