PHOENIX -- In college it was easy for Derrick Williams.
Williams, the former University of Arizona All-American forward, has found the NBA waters a bit choppier.
“In college I actually started slow too,” Williams in town with the Timberwolves said before Tuesday night’s 84-83 overtime loss to the Suns. “Eventually I started picking it up. I feel like I’m getting better and better each and every game.”
The stats back that up. Over his past nine games Williams, the number two overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, is averaging nearly 17 points per game. A great improvement over Williams’ rookie production when the 6 foot 8 inch forward struggled with the Timberwolves schematics and searched for his own offensive identity.
“I’m getting my confidence back,” said Williams.
Confidence that has been tested since arriving with the weighty expectations that accompany every high draft pick. Playing time issues, inconsistency on the court, trade rumors – Williams has been hit with it all during a 21-month NBA career.
"I feel like I’m getting better and better each and every game,” said Williams.
The biggest hurdle in Williams’ young NBA career however is he happens to play the same position as perhaps the best power forward in the NBA, Kevin Love.
With Love currently injured, Williams’ playing time has gone up and so has his production.
Williams also has developed on-court chemistry with 22-year old point guard Ricky Rubio, who missed the first 20 games of the season with an injury.
“He’s a great passer,” said Williams. “His basketball IQ is so high all I have to do his follow him and he’ll lead the way.”
Williams also continues to follow the Arizona Wildcats, the team he led to the Elite Eight as a sophomore before declaring early for the NBA Draft.
“They’re playing well,” said Williams. “I think they have a NCAA Tournament run in them.”
And to think, if Williams played all four years he’d be currently playing his senior season.
“I think every player that leaves college early wonders about that,” said Williams. "I do think if I were still there we’d win the national championship but I’m biased.”
Williams has kept ties to Tucson, opening a clothing store in the city called VII Grand (Seven Grand).
Monday night when the Timberwolves arrived in Phoenix, Williams and three teammates, including Rubio, made the trip down to sign autographs at the store.
How did Williams convince three NBA players to sit in a car for two hours?
“I told them it was 45 Minutes," remarked Williams.