No, you didn't dream it -- Madison Square Garden did indeed quake with calls of "Der-rick Will-iams."
The be-dreaded forward earned such a ringing endorsement in overtime of the Knicks' stirring 118-111 victory, and he did it in the traditional MSG fashion: with pure hustle and perseverance.
Gives you chills, doesn't it? And you're not the only one:
That Derrick Williams tap-tap-tap-tap-catch-And-One might have been my favorite effort-rewarded play of the year.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 21, 2016
It was a huge moment in Williams' season, a remarkable campaign which has seen the former No. 2 overall pick slowly-but-steadily rise from depths of NBA Twitter laughingstock to -- dare I say it? -- above-average NBA role player.
While most of Williams' impact has come from scoring, his rebounding has really come on of late. D-Will doesn't get many offensive boards of Wednesday's variety -- he's usually the primary scorer with the bench unit, and he drives to the rim way too maniacally to be expected to rebound his own misses -- he has feasted on the defensive glass in January. His 23.1 DREB% this month leads all regulars (or second to Kyle O'Quinn, if you consider him a regular).
Our man Derrick is never going to wow you with his rebounding fundamentals; that just isn't his game, and it probably never will be. What he does is jump higher, quicker and more daringly than everyone else.
On this possession, he uses that quickness cobra-style, lingering in the weeds behind an unsuspecting Chris Bosh before striking the ball away from the big man.
Here is Williams watching helplessly while his teammates continually fail to corral the board until he decides, "Screw it, I'm jumping over everybody."
And let us not forget the added bonus of every D-Will 'bound: the chance for him to just keep on runnin', coast to coast:
Crazy as it may sound, Derrick Williams has found a way to roughly approximate Carmelo Anthony's impact from the second unit. I'm talking about Melo Classic here, not the new, improved, play-making do-it-all Dad Melo. Statistically speaking, Melo was expected to score efficiently at a high usage rate while rarely turning the ball over, try at least somewhat on D, and grab rebounds. Now check out where Williams ranks among the Knicks:
- Usage %: 2nd-highest (behind Melo)
- TOV%: 2nd-lowest
- True Shooting %: 4th-highest
- DREB%: 3rd-highest (essentially tied with Melo)
Derrick Williams was brought to New York to back up Carmelo Anthony, a player of similar size yet wildly disparate talents. His frenetic game is the polar opposite of Melo's smooth old man style. But while they make take different paths, Melo and Williams are arriving at the same relative destination.
This version of Derrick Williams -- the glass-cleaning, foul-drawing tornado -- is at this moment the perfect bench proxy for the Knicks' star. By all means, Derrick, keep up the good work.