Terrence Williams has had an up-and-down rookie season with the Nets.
Taken with the 11th pick after playing four seasons at Louisville, Williams began the season as a regular in the Nets' rotation, averaging 27.0 minutes in New Jersey's first 17 games. Of course, the Nets lost their first 18 and Williams saw his minutes dwindle with each passing month.
In four games this month, the Nets have given Williams a shot -- and he's shown flashes of what Rick Pitino (his coach at Louisville) called "freakish" athleticism. Williams, in 29.5 minutes per game, is averaging 13.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists.
"He's been carrying over what he's been doing in practice into the games," Nets point guard Devin Harris told NJNets.com. "You want him playing with that attack-type mentality, getting to the basket, making passing, make some jump shots. We want him to play that type basketball because he's very good when he plays that way. Hopefully he'll continue to do those type things."
Harris' comments came after Williams scored a career-high 21 points with five rebounds and seven assists while playing 32 minutes of the Nets' 111-92 loss to the Cavs last Wednesday. Williams followed that with 14 points in a loss to the Magic; three points (with 11 rebounds and seven assists) in the Nets' win over New York; and 14, six and six in a loss to the Grizzlies.
Nets GM and coach Kiki Vandeweghe was impressed with Williams' performance against Cleveland -- especially while guarding LeBron James -- and saw the talented player they hoped for
| Terrence Williams' rookie season
"Terrence has been playing very good defense," Vandeweghe said. "He's been playing with focus and energy. He scored points tonight, which is great. But he also had five rebounds and seven assists. He played hard. He's hopefully what we've come to expect: somebody who can come off the bench, who can come in and spark us and change the energy."
For Williams, the adjustment to the pro game has been what he calls "rocky."
"I really didn't know what to expect," Williams said last week. "I tried to come here and use the same game that I used in college, but my shot wasn't falling. I had to re-evaluate myself as a player and change my game to moreso going to the hole, but still do the other little things that I do and love to do, as far as, like, passing, playing D and rebounding."
If Williams continues to see playing time -- and really, why wouldn't the Nets let their rookie run? -- expect him to only improve.
NBA.com's Rookie Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Wednesday during the season. If you've got an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for Drew Packham, send him an e-mail. You can also follow him on Twitter. For past week's rankings, click here.
Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 7
I can no longer ignore the fact that Curry is playing better than Evans. Evans may have already won over too many voters, but Curry is certainly making his case in a big way. ESPN.com's Marc Stein had an interesting column this week in which he spoke with several scout around the league. One Western Conference scout had this to say about the two: "[Tyreke] Evans is going to win it and [Brandon] Jennings was up there early, but [Steph] Curry is going to wind up being the best player of the three. He's the ray of hope in Golden State because he's got the shots, he's got the moves, he's marketable and he's only going to get better. And I think his teammates like playing with him. He's a great shooter, obviously, but he's unselfish. He's looking to get other guys involved. You can argue that [Curry's] numbers are inflated playing in Golden State's system, but you could have said that about a lot of rookies over the years. Most of the top rookies are on bad teams. Rookies of the Year aren't coming from the Lakers. The issue is what the Warriors are going to do with [Monta] Ellis, because it's obvious that that team needs to be built around Curry, and Curry defers too much when Ellis is in there."
Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 4
Evans is obviously comfortable being a leader on the young Kings. Maybe too comfortable. In the Kings' 108-102 loss to the Thunder on Sunday, Evans called out teammate Andres Nocioni after the veteran took several questionable shots down the stretch. "We were in the game, and you come down and take bad shots?" Evans told the Sacramento Bee. "That's not team basketball. Coach didn't say nothing, so I thought I had to step up (and say something)." Maybe Evans was justified -- he had 24 points and seven assists to Nocioni's six points -- but he still apologized Tuesday afternoon on a Sacramento radio station.
Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 21
One Western Conference scout, in the earlier-mentioned Marc Stein article on ESPN.com, asked the question many have been asking: How will the Hornets -- and Collison in particular -- fare when Chris Paul returns? His answer: "The rookie has been so good because he's had the ball in his hands. Collison is more of a penetrator than a shooter. He's not a guy who's going to make shots out there [as a shooting guard]. The last time they went through this, they put Collison right back on the bench. Can [Paul and Collison] play together now? I don't necessarily think so."
Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 43
It's amazing to me that Thornton is still not starting. He, along with fellow rookie Collison, has been one of the Hornets' most aggressive and productive pieces. Still, Morris Peterson is starting, despite shooting just 36 percent from the field (33 percent on 3s). Peterson has scored in double-digits once in the last eight games and just four times all season. Thornton, on the other hand has scored in double-digits in 25 of the last 27 games. Hornets coach Jeff Bower continues to start Peterson and prefers the jolt Thornton provides off the bench, but why not let Thornton play a consistent 30-plus minutes per game?
Last Week: 5 | Drafted: 10
Despite all the distractions, all the Rookie of the Year talk, all Jennings wants is a spot in the playoffs. Early in the week, Jennings raised eyebrows after going just 2-for-12 in a win over the Wizards. "My offense is just terrible right now," Jennings was quoted in the Journal-Sentinel. "I don't even know if I want to shoot the ball because things are just not going my way. I'm struggling really bad right now." That drew a sitdown with coach Scott Skiles. "We're not fond of that kind of statement," Skiles said. "We know where his heart lies." Where Jennings heart is is helping the Bucks -- currently fifth in the East -- reach the playoffs. "Right now, I'm playing for something bigger. I don't even care about the Rookie of the Year," Jennings said. "Forget it. Whoever gets it, who cares? Both of their teams suck, so whoever gets it, it doesn't matter."
Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 6
Despite his difficult first year, Flynn has at least one fan -- point guard Aaron Brooks, who has had a breakout season in Houston. "I like Jonny Flynn," Brooks told SI.com. "He reminds me a lot of myself as far as being what they call a 'shoot-first' point guard. But I look at it as him trying to be a leader and do what it takes to win." Unfortunately, Flynn had a tough week handling the ball, averaging 5.0 turnovers in three games, capped off by an eight-turnover showing in the Wolves' 125-112 loss in Dallas. "We turned the ball over too much," Flynn said. "It's a recurring theme for us. ... What we've got to get better at is finishing off games."
Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 26
With the Bulls fighting for their playoff lives, it's no time for Gibson's plantar fasciitis to flare up. Chicago is already without Joakim Noah due to the injury and Gibson's feet seem to be getting worse. In Tuesday's embarrassing 132-108 loss to the Jazz, Gibson had one of his worst games of the season, going scoreless and grabbing one rebound while fouling out after just 12 minutes of action. According to reports, coach Vinny Del Negro said after the game that he knew Gibson was hurting and kept him in the game just to pick up a fifth foul. The Bulls are currently a half-game behind Miami for the eighth spot in the East, and they'll need a healthy Gibson if they hope to make a push.
Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 39
Jerebko had one of his toughest nights -- at least offensively -- in Friday's 99-92 loss to the Cavs. Jerebko was 0-for-5 from the field, missing all three 3-point attempts in going scoreless for the first time since the second game of the season. Still, Jerebko managed 12 rebounds and blocked a pair of shots to keep the Pistons close in a tough loss on the night of Rodney Stuckey's collapse on the bench. Two nights later, Jerebko found his groove, scoring 16 points with nine rebounds and a career-high three blocks in a 110-107 win over the Rockets. "I'm just trying to find the open spaces," Jerebko told the Detroit Free Press. "Maybe I got a knack for it, I don't know, but I'm just trying to find the open spaces."
Last Week: 9 | Drafted: 23
Surprisingly, the grueling NBA season is finally getting to Casspi. The Israeli rookie has seen his production dip, leading to Kings coach Paul Westphal giving Casspi the last two games off. "He looks worn down to me," Kings coach Paul Westphal told the Sacramento Bee after Monday's practice. "He doesn't look as quick. He doesn't look as strong. I think he's questioning himself a little bit. I think all those things are in play." Casspi, who is typically the most energetic player on the floor, backed Westphal in his decision. "Omri the competitor wants to play 48 minutes a game for 82 games, but sometimes it's just impossible for my body. Sometimes it's good to rest, take a day off and come back with energy. Hopefully it will work for me."
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 25
With Jason Terry sidelined with an orbital fracture, Beaubois has grabbed the spotlight, becoming a crucial part of the Mavericks' recent 12-game winning streak. In four games in March, Beaubois is averaging 18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists while hitting on 55.8 percent of his attempts. Most impressive may have been his career-high 24-point performance on 10-for-17 shooting in a 122-116 win over the Bulls. "He's a talent," teammate Jason Kidd told NBA.com's Art Garcia. "He's going to be a special player in this league." If he can get on the court, that is. Terry is expected back in about 10 days, but the 6-foot rookie out of Guadeloupe is just making the most of his opportunity. "I'm feeling more confident out there and my teammates have been talking to me," Beaubois said, "and every day I'm feeling better."
Honorable Mention: Wesley Matthews, Jazz: Matthews drops out, but only because Beaubois deserves some recognition. Matthews averaged 11.0 points in three games and had a career-high five steals in the Jazz's rout of the Bulls on Tuesday; James Harden, Thunder: Harden had a great week, averaging 16.7 points while hitting 7 of 14 3-pointers in three games; Jrue Holiday, Sixers: Had 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 114-101 win over Raptors; Reggie Williams, Warriors: In just his fifth NBA game, had career highs with 28 points and six assists while going 10-for-16 from the field in 135-131 loss in New Orleans; Toney Douglas, Knicks: Played crunch-time minutes, scoring 11 points in 99-98 win over Hawks for his first double-digit scoring game since Dec. 2; DeMarre Carroll, Grizzlies: Had 10 points, eight rebounds in 107-101 win over Nets on Monday; Othyus Jeffers, Jazz: Recent callup from the D-League had two points and three rebounds in front of about 125-150 friends and family members in Utah's 132-108 win in Chicago, where Jeffers grew up
Dropped out: Wesley Matthews