C.J. Williams Seizing His Opportunity With Iowa Wolves
C.J. Williams is working hard to carve his own path in the NBA.
After a successful stint with the Clippers last year, the Timberwolves signed Williams to a two-way contract with the Iowa Wolves in the offseason. Williams spent the beginning of the season in Minnesota, providing backup minutes at point guard off the bench as the Wolves dealt with injuries to Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose.
Now, with the Timberwolves back at full strength and having added two more pieces to their rotation in trade, Williams’ role with the Timberwolves has diminished and he’s currently with the Iowa Wolves. Don’t think he’s not making the most of it though.
While being a two-way player has its challenges—for instance, he never knows if he’ll be in Minnesota or Iowa, making it difficult to plan in advance for family to come to games—playing in both the G-League and the NBA offer plenty of opportunity for Williams.
“What I can bring to our team is a knowledge of the NBA game that will help us down here,” he said in a recent interview. “When I’m down here I get playing time and opportunities to play and learn and grow as a player, and when I’m there I get to absorb from great players like Karl and Andrew and Derrick and Jeff and all those guys.”
The game is a little different in the G-League. There’s more iso ball and a little less focus on seeking out mismatches. G-League teams tend to switch everything instead of using switches selectively to gain favorable matchups. Working in an environment where everyone is trying to prove themselves is different than playing with players who are already the best in the world at what they do.
Williams is unique in that he’s already shown that he’s capable of playing in the NBA. The task now is doing his part in Iowa and trusting that the next opportunity to come back to the Wolves isn’t far off. He not only has a chance to play in Iowa, he can be a leader.
“I know that I’ll get the minutes that I deserve. I know I’ve paid my dues in this league too. I have the respect of coaches I have the respect of referees I have the respect of other players and everything,” he said. “I know that coach will put me in when he feels the need to when I feel like I need to get some reps and when I can help the team win the game. My main focus is helping these guys get better and win the game.”
While Williams would obviously rather be in the NBA, he’s not hanging his head, he’s accepting the challenge that’s in front of him.
“I just want to prove my worth and prove that I belong in the NBA,” he said. “Prove that I’m willing to work for it and while I may not be known very well as an NBA player, I do believe I’ve been an NBA player for the last two, three years. It’s just waiting for my full opportunity and I’m hoping it’s with Minnesota.”