Derrick Williams Is Out Of Excuses

VIDEO: Derrick Williams talks about adjusting to his role with the Kings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – There was the lob from Greivis Vasquez that became a two-hand dunk and his own alley-oop toss to Ben McLemore to finish a break and, finally, there also was the time he ditched defender Jared Dudley backdoor, rose along the left baseline, extended his right arm to the ceiling, controlled the ball one-handed inside the restricted zone despite Blake Griffin contesting the pass and in a single motion completed the slam as the crowd erupted.

All was right in Derrick Williams’ world. It was just one night, Friday at Sleep Train Arena against the Clippers. But he helped ignite the home fans and basked in the adulation with a featured role. He played small forward. And he played a lot, 32 minutes, including all but 22 seconds of overtime.

It was what he imagined the last two seasons would have been like, had he permanently been at the position he preferred or been given a chance at any spot by the Timberwolves. In his mind, he didn’t get one. Suddenly, Williams was a King, traded for Luc Mbah a Moute, and in his first game was throwing down multiple lobs, picking off defensive rebounds and pushing the ball downcourt himself on the break, generally turning Sleep Train wild.

Now all he has to do is come close to repeating that a half-dozen times a month or so.

For all the talk that getting out of Minnesota and away from the expectations that come with being the second pick in the 2011 draft, Williams knows the pressure is still on, maybe more than ever. He came to a team that wants to develop prospects, unlike with the Timberwolves aiming for the playoffs, and to a team that gave him a clear path to the opening lineup at small forward, unlike his previous home.

Minnesota didn’t put anything on a silver platter. But the Kings benched opening-night starter John Salmons and traded his replacement to the Twin Cities to get Williams. That was followed by Sacramento coach Michael Malone sounding like a man very conscious of building up Williams’ confidence.

Miss this chance and Williams may never get a better opportunity. Miss this chance and Williams will validate Rick Adelman and the Timberwolves and take away the I-never-got-a-chance defense.

“It’s on me,” said Williams, who followed up the thrilling debut with four points on one-of-three shooting, along with seven rebounds, in 21 minutes in the Sunday loss to the Warriors. “I really feel like I can help this team a lot. Just my style of play. But it’s put up or shut up. I really feel like I can make something happen here. That’s the main thing. For my career and helping this team, I really feel like I can do that.”

Besides, that whole never-got-a-chance thing isn’t based in reality. Before taking a seat near the end of the bench the first month of 2013-14, when every front office knew he was available in a trade, Williams appeared in 66 games as a rookie (the only Minnesota player of any experience level to make every game) and 78 games last season. He got in 97 percent of the games. He started 71 times, 48 percent of the possible starts. He averaged 21.5 and 24.6 minutes. He played small forward, his preferred position, alongside Kevin Love and played power forward when Love missed most of 2012-13 with a hand injury.

When Williams heard the news of the trade, he said, his reaction was happiness at a fresh start, which is fair, and that he was, “Excited to get back out on the court and finally get a fair shot,” which isn’t. He didn’t get to play true small forward as he had wanted, but the Timberwolves grew to see the Williams that concerned a lot of teams heading into the draft – he may be a classic tweener, unable to stick at either forward spot.

The Kings are willing to give him his shot. They have handed small forward to Williams, told him not to worry about looking to the bench with every mistake. He has this season and next to see if he turns into part of the solution in Sacramento or a test drive that didn’t work out. Now it’s up to Williams.

VIDEO: Derrick Williams finds Ben McLemore on the break


  1. bodjee says:

    Rick’s offence is amongst the best in the NBA but he depends too much on his stars. I do not know if his goals is to send a few Wolves to the All-star games or to win a championship.

    Right now the Laker’s bench is cool because there aren’t many warmers! Everyone is part of the team and other coaches should take note and learn from it. The skills level is no longer limited in the NBA like the old days when a coach had only around 8 players who can compete. Nowadays, most team should be able to play at least 10 players with decent minutes in their rotation.

  2. theaandthea says:

    wait4hope LOL

  3. Johnny-bravo says:

    This trade made both teas better. Williams was given a fair shot in Miiny. He was okay at PF but not as good as Love (go figure). Personally, i don’t think he’s a small forward. Certainly he wasn’t the type of small forward Adelman’s system required. That doesn’t mean he won’t work out at SF in another system, I just don’t think that that would be his highest or best calling. He can be a good player though and I am sure the Kings will find the right role for him eventually.

  4. K Man says:

    As a Timberwolves fan I wish Derrick all the best and hope he can capitalize on his opportunity now at Sacramento. He is a likeable guy and team player. I think the Kings will do well out of this deal.

  5. @spguide This article doesn’t put that much pressure on Williams. Actually, it is as fair as it can be.
    imho, this is the time for him. He’s young, healthy, athletic. He’s one hell of a talent!

  6. dustydreamnz says:

    Gee Williams looked great on debut for the Kings, hope it continues and I’m not even a Kings fan.

  7. jarma says:

    Derrick Williams will prevail. Minnesota should have featured him more and let him show why he is the second pick instead of Addelman helpng Derrick feel like a nobody. I think he will be good for the kings and I am rooting him on forget the timberwolves they made a stupid mistake and Addleman is the worst coach in history.

  8. scott says:

    i find it funny how everyone ingnored that this dunk didn’t count because of the offball foul and then there was another williams oop 5 seconds later

  9. wait4hope says:

    Derrick Williams is the best basketball player in the hemisphere; if Jordan was a rookie in the NBA right now, Derrick Williams would be dunking so much over Jordan. Dunk, dunk, dunk, and Jordan would be like, “oh, man, I can’t stand being dunked on so much… I should play baseball or golf.”

  10. kingfan4life says:

    Williams got a good start in sac, soso in in second game its still early but he has every opportunity to play how he wants to play and he seems like he is going to be a good fit for the kings but the kings are still far off from being a good team, they still need to make some trades. Willams can play sf/pf and id rather see him play more PF then SF he seems to do better and more consistent but kings still need to fill some holes with trades mainly they need to get rid of some veterans, salmons,hays,thorton,outlaw ( thou im a little fond of outlaw ) and maybe one point guard and they need to run Ray in to the rotation some how and get him some minutes as they had already said hes part of the future of sac just needs more exp and work. With carl coming back in a few months what trades dose sac need to make the most ? what position do you think they need to fill the most ? PF? SF ? who should they try to trade for or go after as they did say they were looking to trade veterans for younger more athletic talent….what would the possibility of moving cousins to PF and getting omer Asik to run Center .. williams at SF … or keeping cousins at C moving williams to PF and trading for a good SF .. say rudy gay or some one along those lines.. I have so many possibilities running threw my head i just know they need to do something … what dose every one else think ?

  11. I’m really sad that the Wolves traded Williams, they had fun with him.

  12. PalmOil Preference says:

    Unfair is an understatement how can you let a horrible ran organization be the end all be all of someone’scareer. He has played for two mediocre organizations. He is hyped being selected where he was in the draft but by no means can I right him off if he didn’t get it done in Minnesota and can’t rally the troops in Sac town.

  13. spguide says:

    I think this article is a bit unfair for Williams , it only puts more pressure on him . Sure he needs to prove a bit more for a second round draft , but there are a lot of other players out there , getting a much bigger paycheck , and far more overrated .
    So far the Kings have been an interesting team to watch , something i cannot say regarding the Knicks , Nets , Celtics , Lakers to name a few .

    • Confused says:

      This article isnt unfair, calling out a player many people had high hopes for because hes not performing is a common practice in sports. Also who cares how interesting three teams which are below 0.5 (nets, celts and knicks) are interesting to watch, what does that have to do with anything, the Lakers are 0.5 and don’t have kobe. Why bring any other team into it in the first place? I thought this article was focused on a player not a team.

    • Bigmatta23 says:

      dude he wasnt a second ROUND draft pick..he WAS the SECOND pickl

    • WTF? says:

      He’s second pick and not a second rounder

    • Han says:

      He’s 2nd pick (no. 2), not 2nd round. That’s a big difference in the draft world. Though I’d agree he’s not as bad as Darko, but the author make a valid point, that unlike Darko back then with Detroit, he’s been given enough minutes (not many rookie avg >20 minutes) to proof himself and failed (not miserably, but just couldn’t live up the expectation as no. 2).

    • Adrian says:

      Actually… The lakers are really fun to watch, and they are winning some games.

    • Jason says:

      He’s a second overall pick, not a second rounder (in the 2011 draft).

    • Koperboy says:

      Williams was drafted in first round as a 2nd pick. And I’m sure he does not read articles like this one.

    • Seriously? says:

      Not a second round pick. The second OVERALL PICK. Get your facts straight. Plus he’s had plenty of time/opportunity based upon the information in this article