Williams Eyes Progress Through Offseason Training, Summer League Schedule

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Derrick Williams will tell you that this summer is important to his development. One of his biggest objectives heading into the offseason was learning to become more consistent on the floor.

Part of that meant coming into next year a little leaner, because the Timberwolves not only want him to get more time at the small forward position but he also wants to be a little quicker and explosive driving from the wing.

So as Williams worked with Gunnar Peterson in Los Angeles, he spent the summer running, eating healthier, doing yoga and dropping weight with the hope of taking the next step as a basketball player as a sophomore.

“I always try to set goals for myself,” Williams said. “I’ve always been big on goals like that. Just coming into this season, just trying to be in the best shape possible. Some people might say I was a little overweight or this and that, but the crazy thing is I played at a heavier weight in college than I did this season. One thing I’m trying to do is get my body in shape, trying to slim down a little bit more.”

Williams’ goal is trying to get to 225 pounds this offseason, but if he hovers around 230 leading into 2012-13 he’ll still be in better position to make the transition from power forward to small forward. Right now he’s using these Summer League minicamps and games to learn everything he can about playing the three.

His teammates are seeing the difference. Forward Wes Johnson said he’s leaned up and that this weight suits his game better than before.

Now, he’s tasked with taking that physical transformation and translating it to a new position.

At power forward, Williams said a lot of the responsibilities lie in getting the ball at the mid-post or the elbow and work into isolation situations. But in coach Rick Adelman’s system, the three focuses on pick and rolls and reading the defense.

“At the three you have to learn quickly,” he said. “That’s what I’m doing so far, I’m learning from these guys.”

Williams said he’s learning from some of his Summer League teammates, like Corey Fisher, who have played on the perimeter their entire careers. He’s picking up tips on how to get around the defense and getting more comfortable with the pick and roll.

And what better way to test out what he’s been working on than in a game, especially in Summer League where most of the players are either top-notch talents joining the league or athletes who are playing for a spot on an NBA team’s roster.

You can already see a sense of composure Williams has on the court. During Monday’s shootaround at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion, Williams was knocking down shots from the perimeter and also throwing down some rim-rattling dunks during the walkthrough session.

Assistant coach Terry Porter said Williams has looked good so far in camp, but the tell-tale sign will be once he gets into competition against another team. That’s when you start getting a feel for how he’s going to impact his own squad from the small forward position.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for myself to see if I’m going in the right direction,” Williams said. “Like I said, slimming down, working on my ball handling, coming off screens and things like that. I think it’s going to be a big test for myself. It’s not just practice now. I’ve got a few games where I can test myself. We’ll see how much farther I have to go.”

This offseason training, plus the lessons he took away from his rookie season in Minnesota, are giving Williams perspective on the type of player he can become through hard work and experience.

“Coming from college to the pros, just the maturity level,” he said. “You’ve got to be professional everywhere you go. And just having that mindset every time out there on the court, even off the court as well. You’ve just got to have that focus all the time.”

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