I recently had the chance to sit down with NBA veteran Reggie Williams, who was acquired by the Tulsa 66ers on December 20 from the available player pool. Williams brings four years of NBA experience to Tulsa, holding NBA career averages of 8.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 172 games (32 starts). Williams was most recently a member of the Charlotte Bobcats from 2011 to 2013 after two seasons with the Golden State Warriors.
After playing collegiately for four seasons at Virginia Military Institute, Williams spent a year overseas before joining the NBA D-League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2009. Williams played 31 games (all starts) with the Skyforce, averaging 26.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.5 steals before signing with Golden State in March of 2010. He was named to the All-NBA D-League First Team for the 2009-10 season.
In seven games with Tulsa (as of January 15), Williams is averaging a team-high 21.4 points along with 4.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per outing.
Talk about your journey from your first D-League experience with Sioux Falls until now when you’re back in the D-League with Tulsa.
I left Sioux Falls and was called up to Golden State. It was really the perfect situation for me, learning from Coach (Don) Nelson and Coach (Keith) Smart. I had a lot of success there. When I went to Charlotte, it was a different situation. It was rough. We were coming off the lockout and I had to have knee surgery. When I got back healthy, it was a situation where I knew I wasn’t going to crack the rotation. I had another opportunity with Houston this offseason, but I had a groin injury and couldn’t do much. Things didn’t go like I wanted there at all. When Tulsa picked me up, it gave me the chance to come in and play. It was the freedom to improve my game as well as help these guys win.
How do you see your role on the team? Does your experience make you the leader?
I’m 27 but I’m the old man here (laughing). I think the guys listen to the things that I tell them, then go out and use and implement that advice. I think we have improved tremendously as a team since I got here. We have all helped each other improve and we’re all working together to improve ourselves individually and as a team.
Does being in the NBA give you that extra drive to get back now?
Definitely. There’s nothing like the NBA. I’m very hungry to get back. It’s an awesome experience, but I will say the 66ers organization is set up similarly to an NBA organization. I really didn’t expect that. You can tell that they are trying to bring the Oklahoma City Thunder organization to Tulsa and they’ve done a great job of providing the best resources that they can. From having meals ready after a game to having a practice gym that’s available to us, those are some nice perks we have.
How have you changed since you played with Sioux Falls?
I’m more mature and I see the game differently. I realize that it’s not all about athleticism and talent. I’ve really tried to become a student of the game. It’s like with anything else in life, the older you get, the more you learn and progress.
It’s been a rough season for the 66ers so far. How is this team responding?
These guys work very hard. I think the attitude has been changing in a very positive way. Yeah, everyone wants to win but we are now going into games and putting ourselves in a position to win. There’s a different feel in the locker room when we walk in and know we gave it everything we had.
How are you approaching the rest of the season, knowing you are hoping for that call-up at any time?
Getting to play for the 66ers was a call-up for me. They gave me a chance to come back into the D-League and improve my game. Sure the NBA is the ultimate goal, but that’s out of my control. My job is to play here and I am taking it one game at a time. I want to compete. I want to improve and I want to help my teammates improve. That’s what it’s all about.