Derrick Williams has had a rocky start to his still very young NBA career. Now with the Miami Heat by way of one-year, $5 million deal, the 25-year-old forward is ecstatic about playing for a stable head coach and organization.
In the last two seasons alone, Derrick Williams has played on two bad teams that changed coaches like socks. With the Sacramento Kings, the NBA’s most dysfunctional organization, Williams was under the command of Mike Malone, who was replaced by Ty Corbin, who was then replaced by George Karl. He signed a contract with the New York Knicks and nothing improved.
The flailing organization saw Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis steer the ship in Williams’ only season in the Big Apple, and all that makes him thankful for the opportunity to join a team with a steady coach.
In an interview with Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel, Williams expressed his desire to play for a franchise that wasn’t wild, “I felt I wanted to go to an organization that was a lot more stable. And I felt like the Heat was a perfect opportunity not only for myself, but the things that I do well.”
Williams was a member of the 2011 Draft Class that was relatively loaded. He was drafted second overall after two outstanding seasons with the Arizona Wildcats, but his development has stagnated because of instability. The skill set he brought with him as a sophomore is what skyrocketed him up draft boards–after all, who wouldn’t want an athletic, 6’8 forward who can knock down outside shots?
Apparently, no one does, and he’s hardly been given the time of day by anyone. For his career, Williams averages 21.4 minutes per contest and chips in 9.3 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Here’s the kicker: he’s had 65 career games with 30-39 minutes played, and he’s his most productive in that span. Averages of 16 points and 7.3 rebounds are outstanding for someone who isn’t a starter consistently, and he shoots it at a 47 percent clip to boot.
What that tells me is Williams is producing on pure skill; the Knicks didn’t have much of a system and neither did Sacramento, so what happens under Erik Spoelstra?
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The first that happens is we see a much-improved defender because the Heat lacks the explosive offense that’s so prevalent in this era. Williams has all the tools to be effective on that side of the ball, but he’s stuck in between positions, so it’ll be interesting to see how Spoelstra works his matchups.
Offensively, if he can reignite his shooting touch, he’ll do wonders for Miami. Post All-Star game last season, Williams was at a scorching 43.8 percent from three, and he wasn’t that hesitant. Through 26 games, he launched 48 triples, so it’s good to see that he didn’t fall in love with it.
From downtown, Miami was one of the worst in the association. With an unbelievable clip of 33.6 percent, Miami finished third-to-last in that category, but there is a silver lining. Three of their top marksman, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, and Chris Bosh, are all set to play next year, but Williams can seize the opportunity to crack the rotation with his stroke.
It will be tough for Williams at the start, but, if he’s able to get significant playing time, he can be a game changer for the Heat late in the season.
Data courtesy of Basketball-Reference