Derrick Williams And His New Expectations

USA Today

USA Today

The Sacramento Kings defeated the Dallas Mavericks Monday; 112-97.

The day before, the Kings sent John SalmonsGreivis VasquezPatrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Rudy GayAaron Gray and Quincy Acy — who did not play in yesterday’s game against the Mavs.

This left Mike Malone, Sacramento’s first year head coach, shorthanded on the player front and he elected to start Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Williams.

Yes, that Derrick Williams — the former misfit of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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Recently at Hardwood Paroxysm, Derek James suggested that Williams gets a new start in Sacramento. There is no longer any hinderance or pressure that may have once burdened the number-two overall selection.

“From here on out, those burdens are no more, or at least lessened. He may not have been a star in Minnesota, but still stands the chance to be a star in somebody else’s sky.”

Because of an injury to Kevin Love, Williams started 56 of his 78 appearances last season and averaged 12 points and 5-and-a-half rebounds per game. However, over the last 33 games of the year he averaged 15 points, 7 rebounds and shot 34 percent from long distance — all of which are above his career averages.

But inconsistent performance, in addition to sporadic and random minutes of playing time, through November of this season in Minnesota made Williams a bad ‘fit’ on the roster. He was playing fewer than 15 minutes and averaging only 5 points and 2 rebounds a game, he also watched, in uniform, from the sidelines on four separate occasions (DNP-Coaches Decision).

The Wolves soon traded away the third year player and former number two overall selection for a defensive specialist, Luc Mbah a Moute, that would receive consistent playing time, something the Wolves weren’t providing Williams.

Williams, the highest draft selection in Timberwolves franchise history, failed to flourish, or even function, in head coach Rick Adelman‘s Princeton Offense.

Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press interviewed Williams shortly after his departure.

“I think my style of play and coach’s (Adelman) system just didn’t really match up,” Williams said. “And the times I really tried to showcase what I could do, it made it seem like I was holding the ball too much.”

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With a little over four minutes remaining in the game — Williams, aside Cousins and Thomas, checked out with the Kings ahead 106-82, those at Sleep Train Arena stood and rewarded the team’s performance with an applause. Malone stood on the sideline and embraced each of them as they stepped off the floor, proud of his players performance.

Williams would finish the game with 31 points on 12 of 16 shooting from the field, 4 of 6 from three-point range, while also grabbing five rebounds and swiping five steals.

But was it a fluke? Could this career performance possibly turn into the norm for Williams and the Kings? Until last night he was 16 of 37 from the field and had yet to make a shot worth three-points, the addition of Gay also poses a positional puzzle for Malone — where will Willams fit?

After Monday’s victory over the Mavs Malone addressed his roster dilemma he faced prior to tip-off, and the decisions he’ll need to make about where to play Gay and Williams.

“We didn’t care if we had 10 or 15 players, we had enough talent to win this game,” Malone told the AP. “… Our next challenge is to figure out the new guys and how they’re going to play and at what position.”

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Yesterday Hickory-High discussed “The Seven Stages of Rudy Gay,” though our perspective was theoretical and from afar, Malone’s is much different; he is going to live it. The first year head coach has been assigned the task of somehow making this roster work. But there’s no reason to believe that the addition of Gay isn’t going to infect the Kings, Just ask the Raptors; Gay ‘banned’ statistics from the locker room (whatever that means) because of the considerable attention from the media that his shot volume and selection attracted. However, after last night against the Mavs Malone, for now, showed he’s capable manufacturing a victory with the players at hand in even the most unexpected circumstances.

Don’t expect Williams to instantly begin averaging 30 points and 10 rebounds a night, nor is it likely he’ll immediately become a 20-10 player. Although after the best performance of his career last night perhaps Williams is capable of meeting the expectations, just not the ones expected of him playing in Minnesota.

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