Kings coach Dave Joerger hinted after Wednesday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors that he might have to reevaluate his rotation due to the inspired efforts of an undrafted player on a two-way contract.
Troy Williams has appeared in three of the last four contests, averaging 10 points and 3.7 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game while making 11 of 17 field-goal attempts and 5 of 8 from 3-point range. Big baskets, timely rebounds, soaring dunks — Williams is giving the Kings a little bit of everything.
The numbers might be modest, but the energy is undeniable.
“It’s been like that forever,” said Williams, a 6-foot-7, 218-pound small forward. “Being energetic is just second nature to me. I’ve been energetic my whole life, so it just happens.”
Those wondering what happens next for Williams will have to tune in when the Kings play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night at Golden 1 Center.
The Kings (6-5) have lost their last two games after winning five in a row. The Timberwolves (4-8) have lost four in a row on a rigorous five-game trip, falling to the Golden State Warriors, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles teams in the Clippers and Lakers.
Minnesota features point guard Derrick Rose, shooting guard Jimmy Butler, small forward Andrew Wiggins and center Karl-Anthony Towns. Butler has averaged 22.2 points per game amid trade demands. Wiggins is averaging 17 points. Williams could find himself matched up against both players.
“(Williams) has size, he can jump over somebody, shoot the ball (and) he’s physical,” Joerger said. “I think he gives us something a little bit different to do some flexibility things.”
The Kings signed Williams, 23, to a two-way contract Oct. 20. Williams spent parts of the past two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks, bouncing between the NBA clubs and their G League affiliates.
Under his current deal, Williams can log up to 45 days of service with the Kings. The rest of his season must be spent with the team’s G League affiliate in Stockton unless the Kings offer him a uniform player contract.
Williams has spent 11 days with the Kings and is already making a big impression. He had 12 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots against the Orlando Magic. He scored 11 points against the Milwaukee Bucks.
In Wednesday’s 114-105 loss to the Raptors, Williams posted seven points, three rebounds and two assists in just 14 minutes, providing a spark as the Kings battled back in the second half. One of the highlights of the night came when Williams — a former G League slam dunk champion — threw down a put-back jam in the face of Toronto center Serge Ibaka, an All-NBA defender who has twice led the league in blocked shots.
After the game, Joerger was asked if he is finding it difficult to keep Williams off the floor. Joerger answered affirmatively.
“It’s hard, so I’m going to have to figure out what I want to do in the rotation,” Joerger said. “I think he comes in and he gives us a pop, and I like that, both defensively and offensively. He gets a couple dunks, he makes a couple cuts. You notice him and he makes an impact.”
Williams said he has enjoyed being a part of a young team that ranks among the league leaders in scoring and pace.
“We’re all young,” Williams said. “I’ve been on teams that had plenty of vets and a couple of young guys, but this is a real young team. It’s my first time being on a team like this, but everybody plays hard, everybody’s so athletic and everybody’s grateful, both on and off the court, so it’s a good fit.”