Poets on Sports

Goodbye, T-Will: On Terrence William’s Struggles & Frustrating NBA Players

terrencewilliams4 by Justin Carter


 Word came down from the Rocket’s forum this week that Terrence Williams, former Rocket/ former lottery pick by the Nets, has been cut by the Meralco Bolts of the PBA (aka the NBA of the Philippines/ the league where corporate sponsorship runs amuck & there’s a team called the Talk N Text Tropang Texters). Williams scored twenty-six in his last game, but shot too many outside shots & the Bolts lost their third straight.

Houston traded a first round  pick for Williams back in 2010, a time when the Rockets were gathering former lottery picks together (HI, Jonny Flynn. HI, Hasheem Thabeet. HI, Jordan Hill) in hopes that one of them would pan out. Didn’t happen.

I was high on T-Will, though. A physical freak, I thought he’d be our SF of the future, a guy who could replace Chase Budinger quickly, a guy who could play spot minutes as a point forward. I was wrong. Over two seasons, Williams played in twenty-three games for Houston. He never shot above 35% as a Rocket, lower than his percentages on any other team. After being traded to the Kings, he averaged a career high in points & assists & looked like at least a competent player, someone who could carve out a bench role on some mediocre teams going forward.

Instead, he was arrested a year later, while a Celtic, for making gun threats. He bounced around non-NBA leagues, including a D-League stint earlier this season, when he scored 50 for the LA D-Fenders.

Fact: Terrence Williams will play for someone else again, though it won’t be an NBA team. Fact: Terrence Williams will get cut by someone else again.

& this frustrates me– Williams is one of my favorite guys on the NBA 2k games, a player I always make sure I sign to the Rockets & use exactly as I’d wish Adelman had used him. The thing that makes him work on the game while he doesn’t in real life, though, is the ability to control Williams’ shot selection. In a game this season for the Bolts, T-Will allegedly (I don’t know how accurate stats are) attempted twenty three-pointers. You don’t shoot twenty threes unless you’re Steph Curry or JJ Reddick. Williams flaw has always been his shot– on 2k, I go to the basket with him every time & he’s almost unstoppable. Life isn’t a video game, but for a hugely talented guy like Williams, maybe life should imitate video games more, maybe he should use his strengths more.

Still, I love T-Will. He’s a frustrating player & I find frustrating players to be a lot more interesting than non-frustrating players. Do I really care that Kevin Durant or Tim Duncan had another good season? No way! But tell me about Hasheem Thabeet getting four blocks in a night or Kyle Lowry FINALLY reaching his potential & I’m there. Players who aren’t expected to be good & are, or players who should be good but struggle & finally breakthrough– those are the players I want to see play.thabeet

I hated the vetoed Chris Paul deal because Houston traded the ultimate frustrating guy (Kevin Martin, who still might not know what defense means) & a young, potential filled kid in Goran Dragic (along with the non-frustrating, uber-consistent Luis Scola) for a VERY well known player in Pau Gasol. James Harden coming to Houston was a mystery– would he be as good as he looked against second teamers, or would be look like NBA Finals James Harden? Dwight Howard, coming off a back surgery & two years as a nomad, presented questions as well. With Gasol, there’d be no questions. The NBA knows his ceiling & his floor & at that point, they were essentially the same thing.

& to me, once a player becomes that guy, the one who just makes GMs & fans mad, he’s always that guy, regardless of if he reaches his potential. If T-Will became a 20/5/5 guy overnight, I’d still love him (& would want him back on the Rockets).

How do I define frustrating, though? I don’t think a player in his second season who had a bad rookie year necessarily qualifies, & a player who busts without ever showing much potential doesn’t either. If Antony Bennett looks as bad next year as he did this year, would he count? Probably not– whereas T-Will showed signs of being a very good player, Bennett was widely panned as #1 pick potential.

Ryan Leaf wasn’t a frustrating player. Ryan Leaf was simply a bad player. Likewise, I don’t consider Jimmer or Austin Rivers to be frustrating– I consider them busts, reaches in drafts when a GM thought someone could translate to the NBA but couldn’t.

But whatever– let’s get back to Terence Williams. He’s going to be end up in the D-League again, or playing somewhere in Europe, & I’m going to hope he stops shooting threes & starts working in the low-post, using his natural strengths to make himself into a better basketball player, maybe lead a team to a Euro League title & get another NBA shot. Will it happen? Probably not, but you’ve got to have some hope in sports. Otherwise, we end up with the same boring players leading the same boring teams to the same expected results.

(PS: LeBron counts as frustrating, I think. He spent too long in Cleveland looking like the guy who couldn’t get his team over the hump, then showed brilliant stretches, like when he dragged the Cavs to the Finals. Now, he’s the greatest player of his generation.)



About juscart

Justin Carter is the co-editor of Banango Street & an MFA candidate in Poetry @ Bowling Green State University. He enjoys the Rockets & Texans. He sometimes enjoys the Astros. His poems appear in Hobart, Red Lightbulbs, & Revolution House.

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This entry was posted on June 4, 2014 by .
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