No one really thought much of the New York Knicks signing former No. 2 pick Derrick Williams over the summer as a free agent and in fact, some wondered how his particular skill sets would fit in a Triangle system.
Williams isn’t an efficient offensive player, doesn’t exactly space the floor (career mark of 30.1 percent from beyond the arc), isn’t known for moving the ball, and certainly isn’t known as a defensive presence. With Phil Jackson looking to rebuild the Knicks, it was only natural to wonder why he would sign Williams – considered a draft bust at this point – to a two-year deal.
Enter opening night for the team against the Milwaukee Bucks, and in came the forward off the bench to completely dominate the contest with 24 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot in just 21 minutes. Williams had shown encouraging signs of being a positive contributor during the preseason, but to see him take off the way he did on Wednesday was eye-opening for many, especially given that he has never played such a meaningful role in any season-opener of his career (the most he had scored in a season-opener was 13 points).
In Bill Simmons’ case, it was a bigger deal to see Williams go off than most and here’s why:
I can’t believe I still have a chance to win my “Derrick Williams will be better than Kyrie Irving” argument from 2011. Let’s do this DW!
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) October 29, 2015
Simmons apparently got it wrong in a big way about Williams, as many had going into that year’s draft, but it’s always encouraging to see the potential for a player who has built a certain reputation (a negative one) over the years to reinvent themselves. Of course, it’s just one game, the Knicks were playing a depleted Bucks lineup and this sudden hype could die down in a week or two. On the other hand, Williams is only 24 years old and still has plenty of time to show that he has a distinct role to play in the league for years to come.
Jim Park is a blogger and the author of Tweet of the Night. Follow him on twitter @SheridanBlog.