Arizona Basketball

Ex-Cat Derrick Williams finally around a culture of winning

Derrick Williams has appeared in two games with the Cavs.

Poor LeBron James. As if having Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye on his team wasn’t enough.

Now he has to deal with another Arizona Wildcat.

“It’s a crowd,” James said with a smile this weekend about the recent addition of Derrick Williams. “We have three Wildcats now and it’s getting out of hand.

“We already have to deal with those two, man … but, no, it’s great to have him. It’s great to have D-Will. It’s great that he has guys in here who went to the same university as him. He looked up to RJ when he was growing up, knowing what RJ did for U of A. He came after Channing, obviously.

“It’s just a good culture for us.”

Williams was released by the Miami Heat earlier this month, and then the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers signed him to a 10-day contract, although there is definitely potential for Williams to stick around longer than that — especially now that big man Kevin Love is out six weeks because of a knee injury.

The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 9.5 points and 21 minutes in two appearances for the Cavs.

Williams, a sixth-year pro who was the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, has been a disappointment so far in his career, given the expectations. He has career averages of 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds, spanning five teams.

But he has never been around a culture of winning in the NBA.

Until now.

Williams has never been to the playoffs, never been on a winning team. In his previous five seasons, the teams he ended the season with posted a cumulative record of 146-248.

Consider:

*2011-12: The team that drafted him, Minnesota, went 26-40 in a shortened season due to a lockout.

*2012-13: The Timberwolves were 31-51.

*2013-14: He was traded early in the season to Sacramento, which went 28-54.

*2014-15: Sacramento was 29-53.

*2015-16: He signed in the offseason with the New York Knicks, who went 32-50.

*2016-17: Miami had a losing record when it released Williams.

“I definitely had different opportunities after I left Miami. This was my first choice,” he said this weekend in a postgame interview.

“I wanted to be in a winning environment. I wanted to get back that feeling. I haven’t had that feeling since I’ve been in the NBA. It feels good, man. It feels like I’m back in college, and that’s what I want.”

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