I bet when you think New Jersey Nets and “bust” you’re thinking Travis Outlaw, or maybe even Troy Murphy, but from my vantage neither one of those guys was as big of a disappointment and letdown to the fanbase than 2009 lottery pick Terrence Williams.
A year ago at this time, I anointed the player formerly affectionately known as TWill as the “Player to Watch Next Season.” Here’s the praise I heaped upon this kid:
How good was TWill down the stretch? He went from averaging 3.7 points, 2.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds on 38 percent shooting in about 15 minutes a game in February to averaging 14.1 points, 4.9 assists and 6.7 rebounds on 43 percent shooting in 30 minutes a game in March. He then upped his game even more for the final 7 games in April, averaging 14.3 points, 6.3 assists, 7.1 rebounds on 45 percent shooting playing 34 minutes a game. This wasn’t a gradual improvement. This is a legitimate case of a light “switching on” for a player. Meanwhile, his assist-to-turnover ratio was nearly three-to-one his final six weeks. So not only was TWill stuffing a stat sheet, but a case could be made that he was more effective running the point than Devin Harris.
But as it stands, the only time Williams looked like a true player this season was when he was demoted to the NBA D-League. Even after he was unceremoniously traded to the Houston Rockets – where TWill supporters warned the Nets front office that the deal would haunt them for years to come – Williams did little to nothing to warrant any remorse from Billy King and Avery Johnson. Unless averaging 7.6 minutes in 11 games for Houston is something to lose sleep over.
Sadly, Terrence Williams became yet another Nets lottery draft pick casualty. You guys know who’s also on this list: the ultra-talented but super unmotivated Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson; the overrated and ultimately disappointing Chris Morris, Dennis Hopson and Ed O’Bannon. Sadly, Williams wasn’t even around long enough to help the team as much as these guys did(n’t).
Maybe the story of TWill is a nagging reminder to Nets fans to not get too excited about the young talent that passes through their doors, though I’d rather think of it as a reminder to the countless players who enter this league with a chip on their shoulder, but without the maturity to put things together. Before his rookie season started, I got nervous when TWill was caught in the same car as Nate Robinson, who had been pulled over for speeding. Guilt by association, I said. And when TWill was busy heaving up awful jumpers and showing up late to practice under Kiki Vandeweghe, those who questioned the guy’s maturity appeared vindicated. But when that light-switch seemed to turn on in March and April last year, I was guilty of being too forgiving to Williams. In reality, I should have continued to doubt him, or otherwise I wouldn’t be declaring him a “bust” two years into his NBA career.
Fortunately, the Nets have been able to move on from TWill quite effectively, but he’s the biggest bust of this season all the same. Whereas Travis Outlaw and Johan Petro at least acknowledge their disappointing seasons, TWill always seems willing to tell you what a raw deal he got here in New Jersey. As if it was wrong for the organization to expect him to act like a professional by doing things like showing up to practice on-time (or at all) and not missing team buses or flights. For shame. Unlike Outlaw and Petro, the TWill’s of the NBA are truly the players who deserve the mock “MVP” chants and the boos, because these are the guys who have talent but muck it up anyway because of their own egos and delusions.
I let a six-week run of games trick me into thinking that I would be excited to watch TWill in the 2010-11 season and instead, I want this guy wiped from my memory. Consider this “bust” award the send off Williams deserves.