Jordan Williams probably hasn't had the start he planned on for his professional career, but the New Jersey Nets' second round pick seems to have the potential to be an NBA contributor sooner rather than later. For now, however, the 20-year-old power forward will have to settle on getting his feet under him while playing in the NBA Development League.
The Nets made a few moves earlier this week that affected the D-League as they called up Larry Owens, released former Springfield Armor standout Dennis Horner and assigned the aforementioned Williams to their D-League team. The Nets haven't played since Owens was called up and Horner didn't clear waivers in time to join the Armor on Thursday night (though he was in attendance), however, leaving Williams as the de facto prospect to watch.
It didn't start out pretty for the 6-foot-9 power forward, but the former Maryland Terrapins big man eventually was able to find a groove as his Springfield Armor pulled out a 93-91 victory over their rival Maine Red Claws. Williams did his part in the win by scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while struggling through a 7-of-17 shooting effort.
Williams got the nod as the starting power forward for Bob MacKinnon's Armor, lost the opening tip out twice and had your's truly worried that Ridiculous Upside was going to be writing a troubling report on a promising prospect. It turned out that Williams was just shaking off a bit of rust, however, as he seemed to settle into a groove as the game progressed.
The best part about Williams' game came on the offensive end, which would have been a huge surprise for myself after watching him in college if I hadn't read the piece on Draft Express about his improving offensive repertoire. Williams may have actually been a bit too ready to try and score when he touched the ball, but confidence is never a bad thing and it's likely he was told to implement what he's been working on now that he's got a chance to do it in real-time situations.
Williams really showed two main moves in the game as he spent the majority of his time matched up with former Stanford standout Lawrence Hill: his pick-and-pop jumper that seems to be relatively effective out to around 18 feet and a nifty spin move in the post that should surprise the majority of his defenders just because it's a quicker move than Williams looks to be capable of making. The highlights of his offensive action are included below.
On defense, Williams seemed a bit too nonchalant for a player that lacks the athleticism to make up for too many faults. It might just be an adjustment getting back to playing more than just a few minutes per night following an offseason of inactivity, but he was noticeably lost a few times in pick-and-roll coverage and seemed a bit too eager to allow his man position in the low post.
Williams should improve over the next few weeks with the Armor as he continues to get into game shape under the watchful eye of Coach MacKinnon. It remains to be seen f his upside is that of an NBA rotation player this season, but the D-League should at least instill some confidence as he adjusts to the NBA game after missing the majority of training camp with dehydration issues.