Hawks' Williams learns game within game

Rocky Mountain Revue
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Marvin Williams, the No. 2 pick in the 2005 NBA draft, hasn't been around long enough to know all the proper mannerisms of the NBA.

For instance, when a reporter walks up to him in the locker room after a game, the protocol isn't to stick his hand out in greeting, flash his millionaire grin and introduce himself, but he does it anyway.

Of course, there are signs that Williams is getting what the NBA is about, failing to dress for Tuesday's game against Seattle in the Rocky Mountain Revue because of a supposed strained hamstring - common and convenient ailments among the top players in the summer leagues.

Real injury or not, Williams got back into the action Thursday, when Atlanta blew out the Jazz 90-63. He played 17 minutes, finishing

with six points.

While Williams has been visiting Salt Lake City, former Ute Andrew Bogut was getting his first taste of the NBA in Minnesota's summer league.

Drawing comparisons between their performances is almost irresistible, especially since some scouts believe Williams should have been the No. 1 pick, not Bogut. It will take a bit for it to play out as to who was the better value, but so far, both are having mixed results.

Bogut averaged 13.2 points and 10 rebounds, but also was ejected from a game after tangling with Indiana center John Edwards.

Like Bogut, players have taken their best games to Williams in Salt Lake City, knowing the worse he looks, the better they look.

In one game, he went to the locker room with a split lip, ice on his right knee and a little dish of humility after Dallas' DJ Mbenga blocked one of his shots so forcefully he went crashing to the floor.

"Both of them are going to get their opponents' best shot every night," said University of Utah coach Ray Giacoletti, who watched a few of the Revue games this week. "Both of them have a lot of pride, but they need to play within themselves."

Williams' numbers haven't been as impressive as Bogut's, shooting just 28 percent and averaging 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in four games.

"These days are the growing pains for a lot of guys," Atlanta assistant coach Larry Drew said. "They all want to do well, and obviously as the second pick, he has more pressure on him. But he'll relax and be fine. We've seen some things that have really pleased us."

Williams, a 6-foot-9 forward, will probably be the answer to a trivia question some day: Who was the second pick in the 2005 draft who never started in college? Williams played only a year for North Carolina. He never started a game, but was the nation's top sixth man.

Still, there is nothing like a championship season to turn a brief stop into an invaluable experience.

"If I hadn't gone to school for a year, I'd be in a lot of trouble," Williams said. "This is a totally different game, and that year helped me prepare for it."

Known for his laid-back personality at North Carolina, Williams has been knocked by some critics for being soft, but right now, the level-headedness is helping his transition into the NBA, he said.

Even when he gets stuffed, he gets up, brushes himself off and manages a smile, even if it is a weak one.

"I'm learning fast," he said. "Everything is new. I'm going out and playing hard, but I'm having fun too."