Derrick Williams is just 23 years-old. He is headed into his fourth season in the NBA. At this age, players should be thinking about their first contract extension and where they want to play long-term. Instead, the former second overall pick is at summer league, not as a spectator, but as a member of the Sacramento Kings team trying to find his place in the league.
Heading into the 2011 draft, the debate among executives and general managers was between Kyrie Irving and Williams. Irving was a potential franchise player at point guard, Williams was the versatile forward capable of playing both the three and four position and being a dominant force on the offensive end and a menace on defense with his long arms.
Today, Irving is still with the Cavs having just signed a max extension, while the story for Williams is much different. After a lackluster rookie season, Williams showed signs in his second year in Minnesota, starting 56 games and averaging 12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds on 43 percent shooting.
But he had trouble fitting in next to Kevin Love and never found a role with the Timberwolves. 11 games into last year, he was traded to the Sacramento Kings. Playing mostly as a reserve, he averaged 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in 24.7 minutes per game for the Kings. Williams again found himself trying to figure out a spot in the rotation behind Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins.
Via Tim Cato of SB Nation, Williams discussed his reasoning for playing in summer league this year, despite already having so much NBA experience under his belt:
“Sometimes in the summer, you get a little bored, man,” Williams told SB Nation. “Why not come to Vegas and play with some of the guys that are on the normal team with us?”
“In the offseason, it can kind of get repetitive,” Williams said. “I wanted to come out here and get some run in. Get some competition. Get myself in shape, and that’s what I’m using it for. I’m not really out here for the points column or anything like that.”
For many players, summer league is a chance to impress a scout, a coach or an executive who are watching from the stands. Williams is set to return to the Kings next season, so he’s not playing for a job. But he’s definitely still looking to meet the expectations set for him when he first came into the league.
An example Williams can feel encouraged by is Anthony Bennett, who was lost in his rookie season but seems to have found his footing at summer league, and is poised for a great sophomore season in Cleveland. However, Williams is a bit further into his developmental curve, and is already on his second team. Even at age 23, he may be running out of chances. But he’s still out there, trying to find a way, trying to find a spot in this league that’s overwhelmed him for three seasons running.
What do you think?
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