George Karl was the last man to coach Derrick Williams.
This is what Karl had to say about Williams after the 6-8 forward turned in a zero-rebound game in April:
"You shouldn't be playing 20 minutes a game and not get a rebound. I mean, the Coke machine can get a rebound some nights"
Williams, the most recent Knicks free-agent pickup, has played for three different coaches in four years.
None of his coaches -- or their staffs -- has been able to coax elite production out of the 24-year-old.
Williams has career averages of 9.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. That’s well below what most experts believed he was capable of when Minnesota selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
Getting Williams to tap into some of his unfulfilled potential is now the responsibility of Derek Fisher and his staff.
Fisher and, to a greater extent, Phil Jackson have both talked a lot about the importance of player development in their quest to build a winning culture.
So, in a way, Williams will be a litmus test for the Knicks’ coaching and training staff.
Can Fisher, his coaches and the rest of the Knicks’ player-development staff help Williams improve his shooting?
Last season, Williams knocked down just 32 percent of his shots away from the rim, per basketball-reference.com. And he hit just 31 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Williams seems to thrive in transition but hasn’t found much success in half-court sets. Per Synergy Sports, Williams shot just 40 percent in half-court sets last season. (Thanks to ESPN’s Kevin Pelton for the stats above)
According to some metrics, Williams also struggled on defense last season.
When Williams was on the court, Sacramento’s opponents scored 112 points per 100 possessions in 2014-15. Extrapolated over a full season, that rate would be three points higher than the worst team mark in the NBA last season.
Can Knicks coaches -- and other responsible for player development -- help Williams improve on that end? Again, this is something worth watching.
To be clear, none of this is to say that Williams’ success is the sole responsibility of the coaching staff. Williams has to want it, too.
But it will be interested to see how much the coaching staff -- and the Knicks’ culture -- can make an impact on a player who hasn’t seemed to reach his potential yet.