Derrick Williams best highlight of was more like a blooper.
The Kings were annihilating the Chicago Bulls at Sleep Train Arena, up 28 points in the fourth quarter when Williams intercepted a pass and had a clear path to the basket.
Williams went for the highlight play by throwing the ball off the the backboard for a dunk. Instead of catching the ball and slamming it, the ball whent through Williams’ hands and theplay ended up beign featured in Shaquille O’Neal’s “Shaqtin A Fool” segment on TNT which relishes in the follies of players around the league.
Lately Williams has been a regular on the high reels for the dunks he’s making and he has Andre Miller to thank for many of them.
One reason Kings coach George Karl has kept Williams with the second unit, even when injuries could have earned him a starting spot, is the chemistry between Williams and Miller.
Williams scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter of Sacramento’s 107-106 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday at Sleep Train Arena.
Williams has played some of his best basketball with the Kings since the All-Star break, when Miller joined the team.
“I’ve been watching Andre for a long time,” Williams said. “Him being from L.A., being in the league so long, he has a lot of wisdom, a lot of knowledge so he’s just telling me get out and run.”
That’s led to more dunks for Williams.
“He’s one of the great lob throwers this game has seen,” Williams said. “Whenever you have a guy like that you want to get out in the open court.”
Williams scoring and shooting percentages have gone up since the break along with his highlight plays.
Prior to the break, Williams was averaging 6.6 points and shooting 44.1 percent. Williams was shooting 27.3 percent on three pointers.
In 17 games since the break entering Tuesday, Williams was averaging 9.4 points. He was making 46.5 percent of his shots, including 38 percent from three-point range.
Miller’s presence helped Williams and Omri Casspi figure out their roles under Karl. Casspi is now a starter.
“I think I’ve connected with all the guys, especially the bench guys,” Miller said. “Derrick and O.C. have a good feel for the game, they play well off each other and they like to get up and down the court. They’ve got good basketball instincts, good smarts and I just try to make it easier for them out there and they’ve been playing good basketball.”
Williams said playing with Miller is a big reason he’s played better lately. Now he’s able to be a key player late in games, as he was against the Sixers when he was in the game in the fourth quarter.
Miller’s encouragement is a constant reminder of what Williams needs to make an impact.
“I think my rookie season (in Minnesota) I had a lot of lobs as well,” Williams said. “I had a guy, Ricky Rubio, throwing me a lot of lobs and he’s one of the great passers in this game as well. When you have a guy like Andre you just want to get out and run because he’s going to put it right on the spot and all you’ve got to do is make the dunk.”
Miller said players like Williams make his job easier. Lobs can be high-risk plays, especially for the turnover-prone Kings, but their worth the risk with Williams.
“When you’ve got leapers out there all you’ve got to do is throw it somewhere close to the rim and they can go up there and finish it,” Miller said. “The toughest part is just getting it there.”
So instead of being infamous for Shaqtin a Fool, Williams’ plays are being famously replayed, like his dunk on Charlotte center Bismack Biyombo last Friday which has made the rounds as the top play on ESPN’s Sportscenter.
“I try to bring excitement out there every time I play,” Williams said. “It’s just part of the game. (Biyombo) just happened to be in the wrong spot.”
Those are the highlights Williams likes.