Derrick Williams is feeling good about himself these days. The 24-year-old forward has quieted much of the talk that he wasn't a legit NBA player by finding a concrete role in the Knicks' rotation. His defense remains terrible, but his rebounding numbers are up, and he's sporting a positive assist-to-turnover ratio for the first time in his career. And March might have been his best month yet -- in 15 games he averaged 9.8 points on 48.2% shooting (40.9% from three!!!).
The former No. 2 overall pick reflected on the rough start to his career, the steps he took to fix some of the holes in his game, and his thoughts on the future with Dan Feldman of NBC Sports:
"There's a reason why I went so high in the draft," Williams said. "Like I said, this league is about opportunity, situation and timing - those three things right there. And if you have good opportunity, situation is right, and the time is right on point, you can't be stopped."
"I’m not necessarily worried about, I wouldn’t say, money situations or injuries or things like that. I think, if you just enjoy the game, things happen for a reason, man. Injuries happen," Williams said before his tone changed ever so slightly. "Playing well happens."
Apparently Williams has really enjoyed his time with the Knicks ... then again, he played for two of the most dysfunctional franchises in the league in the Wolves and Kings. It's not everyday a player thinks of MSG as a nurturing environment!
Williams admitted that he paid too much attention to criticism in the past -- trying to force threes when people were saying he couldn't shoot, driving recklessly when people critiqued his ability to penetrate opposing defenses. You can definitely see more of a flow to his game this season. He still doesn't shoot well, but he generally takes what defenses give him and focuses on his greatest asset: his ability to draw fouls. He made improving his foul shot a priority, and now shoots a respectable 75.2% from the charity stripe.
So will the be-dredded one exercise his opt-out at the end of the season? He remained coy when asked. The guy remains a bizarre combination of strengths and weaknesses, but his improvement this season, coupled with his age and obvious athleticism, could net him a pretty good deal on the open market.