When most NBA fans think of Summer League, they get excited about the prospect of seeing the best young players in the league show just what they can do. Although, the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker will grab all the headlines this summer, the event is about a lot more than superstars.
For undrafted college players, guys who’ve been playing overseas for years, and D-League regulars, Summer League is the last chance saloon.
Then, you’ve got a guy like Derrick Williams.
Williams was the second overall pick of the 2011 draft, but has never quite lived up to those initial expectations. Heading into the season, Williams is battling hard at Summer League, while other members of the ’11 draft class are enjoying very different NBA experiences.
Then in the last week, Chandler Parsons, a second rounder in 2011, has been lured away from Houston to Dallas as a restricted free agent, and will now earn $46 million over the next three years.
All the while, Williams is a fourth year NBA player in Las Vegas playing alongside many guys who will never get a shot at the big league. Tim Cato had a post on SB Nation yesterday that helped shed some light on Williams thinking, and in reality it made for refreshing reading. Cato quoted Williams as saying:
“In the offseason, it can kind of get repetitive. 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.”
Of course, everything that Williams say here sounds completely logical, yet it seems to have caused a bit of a stir around the NBA. The NBA and the processes around it are very rigid, and in many ways the league and its fans are tied into convention.
Whether that’s deciding who should, or shouldn’t play in Summer League, or even analyzing the route Emmanuel Mudiay seems to be taking to the NBA.
Kings fans should only be too happy to see Williams working hard in Vegas, as working out with other high level talent against a competitive backdrop, should only lead him to more focused improvements on his game going forward.
With the success of the aforementioned players from Williams’ class, it would seem all too easy for the 23-year-old to hang his head and become demotivated. Instead, Williams is showing a level of maturity, composure and determination that will make him a valuable player for the Kings to have on their roster this season.
Williams may never reach the heights of Kyrie Irving, the only man picked ahead of him in 2011, but the former Arizona Wildcat doesn’t seem like a draft bust by any means. Williams has already shown three years of solid, if unspectacular, production as a pro, and with continued graft like he’s putting in this summer, he will only get better.
All in all, if what Williams is doing this year was to become a trend in the league, the NBA talent pool would grow even stronger, and more players would reach their full potential. He may not be setting Summer League alight, but for Williams it’s all about what he brings on opening night, and he should be commended for his approach in improving.