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Finals M.V.P. Elliot Williams Discusses Why Winning Big Matters In NBA D-League

NBA alum and D-League Finals M,V.P. discussed his progression this past season and why winning matters so much in the minor league.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Following an 31 point, 8 rebound, 8 assist performance during Santa Cruz's game one victory over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the D-League Finals, the Warriors could have only been dreaming that they'd receive more of the same from Elliot Williams in game two.

While he didn't flirt with a triple-double to the same extent this time around, the offensive prowess displayed by Williams as his team returned home to close things out in Surf City was not only enough to help the Warriors emerge as D-League champions, but also win him NBADL Finals M.V.P. in the process. The guard added 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in Santa Cruz's decisive 109-96 victory over Fort Wayne.

Earlier this season, Williams achieved individual success in the form of NBA call-ups with the Hornets, Pelicans, and Jazz, respectively (he only appeared in games for the latter two teams). While an NBADL championship was on the line, minor leaguers are no longer playing for big league promotions with the NBA playoffs currently underway. Still, the guard found motivation in his hunger not only to continue competing, but to win.

"It's one of those things where it doesn't matter if you get a call up or not. You need to worry about where you are. We went on a run and had that big winning streak at the end of the season," he told exclusively at the team's last practice before game two. "Now it's all about taking care of business in the playoffs."

Of course, by bringing home a title for the first time in three tries, he and his team certainly did.

Looking back at his time in the D-League, Williams made it sound as though the opportunity to strut his stuff in the minors was time well spent.

"Oh, I've definitely improved a lot of things. Especially being 6'5, taking care of things at the point guard position is something [that improved]," he continued to add. "That's my bottom line; being a good point guard, but also being able to score a lot. I was injured often earlier in my career, so this has given me a good opportunity to redefine my game. It's been good for me."

"I'm a natural two. I'm a natural scorer. This was more about being able to embrace serving as more of a combo-guard," Williams explained. "I'm able to defend smaller guards because of my quickness. I can guard point guards, so that's how I can be a combo."

While he looked to improve upon other facets of his overall game, there's no denying that the Warriors enjoyed employing him for his services, and often utilized his biggest strengths. After all, he was recognized as a central figure in the team's offense night in and night out.

"The coaching staff has had faith in me, but this is a great team. It feels good. We have great leaders, great young guys, and a great bench," the 25 year old said modestly. "When everything is running well, it's easy to just go out and play your game. It's been good for me."

Nevertheless, even for an individual like Williams, who received multiple NBA call-ups just this past season alone, winning at the D-League level still matters.

"It means a lot. It's good for the fans and the city, because they're the ones that always come out and support us. But I don't care what level it is. You want to win," he asserted. "Anytime you have a chance to win a championship, you go for it. This season has been a grind, but [it's nice to win] a championship."