It’s that time of year for G League players. Opportunity knocks, but you and hear the anxiety through the door too. As of last Friday, teams can sign players to 10-day deals as long as they have an open roster spot and about half the NBA’s 30 teams have a vacancy.
The Nets have a couple of players who might get called up but no open roster spots to fill. Chief among the call-up candidates is Donovan Williams, a 6’6” wing with a 7-foot wingspan and a 40” max vertical who can drain the three and drive the lane. He’s a little on the thin side, but he’s also the youngest player on the Long Island roster at 21 years old, two months older than Day’Ron Sharpe.
Williams is averaging 15.4 points a game in the Nets seven regular season games so far while shooting 39.4% from deep. If you go back another two games, the G League Showcase in Las Vegas, Williams is averaging 17.3 points and better than 40% on threes, having scored 24 points in each of the Showcase games.
“Stretch,” as he’s been known since high school in Houston, spoke this week with Terrel Emerson of Talk That Talk in Las Vegas. In the conversation, Williams spoke highly of the Nets organization and how Long Island gave him a chance to show the world what he can do.
“It’s been everything for me,” he said of the Long Island experience and the confidence it’s given him. “When I say, ‘I’ve had a better pro career to this point than my college career,’ it’s just because I’ve been able to be the player I always knew I could be.
Indeed all his G League numbers are improvements over those he put up at the University of Texas and UNLV. He attributes that to confidence building.
“I think people really underestimate that,” he said. “Until you have people that believe in you and see you the same way you see yourself and are going to push you to be the same person you want to be, that’ll take you [to the next level].”
Williams, who was a top high school recruit four years ago, played little at Texas his first two years of collegiate play, then transferred to UNLV where his game as an athletic wing developed last season. He didn’t get drafted but shortly after the NBA Draft ended, he got a call from the Nets offering him an Exhibit 10 deal that included a Summer League stint.
He and his representation have had conversations with several NBA teams including the Nets and if his talk with Emerson is an indication, he’d prefer Brooklyn be his next destination.
“It’s all about finding my niché,” he said. “I’ve had enough conversations with the front office about knowing where my role would be the moment I step on the court with the Nets. It would be knocking down open shots, cutting to the basket and playing defense.”
The Nets don’t have roster spots, not even a two-way deal, but that could change. Two-ways can be cut up till January 20, a week from Saturday, and new two-ways signed. David Duke Jr. of course is having a solid year, while the Nets other two-way, Alondes Williams, has been troubled by injuries and isn’t starting for Long Island. Also, with Kevin Durant now out for several weeks and the trade deadline, February 9, approaching, Sean Marks could try a bit of roster re-shuffling that could open things up.
For Williams, his NBA debut is not a matter of “if” but “when,” meaning that if another team calls, he’ll be ready.
“I don’t know how I’ll feel the moment I run out onto that court,” he said. “Because I know it’s going to happen. As much I’ve dreamt about it, manifested it, tried to put myself in the moment. I really don’t know what that feeling will be like. I can’t wait to see what it feels like.”