There is a long list of failed No. 2 picks, and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams is trying hard not to join that list. The list is sobering including such names as Darko Milicic, Stromile Swift, Marvin Williams and Michael Beasley.
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Williams has had an up and down start to his career but is well aware of the recent history of other No. 2 picks in the NBA Draft. Williams is right. Since the 2000 season, only two second picks have gone on to stardom: Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge.
''I don't want to say any names, but there have been a lot who haven't worked out,'' Williams said. ''A couple have sky-rocketed and a couple have been pretty decent. My whole life I never wanted to be a decent player.''
Williams has been working closely with assistant coach Shawn Respert since December. The two are working on his game as well as his off court mental approach. Williams has been criticized for his penchant to float during games while a rookie. That put him out of the rotation early on when Minnesota was healthy for one of the few times this season.
Since he started the extra work there has been flashes of brilliance. Teammates say they can see Williams focusing in more in his second season. Perhaps the biggest obstacle he has remaining is winning the trust of his coach Rick Adelman. As far as his work ethic, Respert says that is improving as well.
''The biggest improvement I've seen is I like the fact that he's had some ownership now in his own development,'' Respert said. ''We don't have to go searching for him like we used to. Now I see him searching for us.''
Williams has played in 38 games with the Timberwolves this season while making 16 starts. His points per game is up slightly to 9.3 despite playing a little less than in his rookie season.