Derrick Williams will have ample opportunity to prove himself the rest of the season. The 22-year-old forward is one of several players that Sacramento Kings head coach Michael Malone and general manager Pete D’Alessandro are determined to evaluate as the rest of the 2013-14 campaign plays itself out.
“We have to see these guys play and not in practice, but in NBA games,” Malone said of Williams along with Ray McCallum, Ben McLemore and Carl Landry following last week’s trade with the Brooklyn Nets. “And see what they’re capable of doing so we can make decisions coming in the offseason.”
Since being acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves in November, Williams’ new life with the Kings has had its ups and downs. The third-year forward was thrust into major minutes as the Kings’ starting three-man in his first few weeks in Sacramento. Then came the Rudy Gay trade with Toronto and Williams found himself once again adapting to another new role, this time off the Kings’ bench.
In his first seven games with the Kings, all starts, Williams flourished. Per 36 minutes, he amassed averages of 16.3 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting better than 53.1 percent from the field. However, his numbers since Gay was acquired are a closer reflection of the player he’s been for much of his career. In the last 36 games, Williams is shooting just 43.3 percent from the field and averaging 12.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Part of the adjustment for Williams has been comfortable playing both forward spots for the Kings. It hasn’t been tough for him to play either position, but the challenge for Williams has been the different match-ups both present.
“Sometimes teams might go big,” Williams said after a recent practice. “And you might see our big lineup in there with (DeMarcus) Cousins healthy and myself and Rudy and (Jason Thompson) and we go big and that works really well. And sometimes teams go smaller than us.”
What are areas Williams must show improvement in as he closes out his third NBA campaign? The 22-year-old forward believes he must show Kings brass a willingness to compete, score and rebound as the season winds down.
“I think that when given a chance, I’ve really proven that can do that,” Williams said. “And sometimes it does get a little tougher, some games here and there, but at the same time you’ve just got to keep finding (ways to contribute).”