96°F
weather icon Clear

Former UNLV wing returns with Nets in NBA Summer League

With six minutes remaining in the second quarter, former UNLV wing Donovan Williams officially made his return to Las Vegas. It only took him around 60 seconds to make an impact.

Coming off the bench for his first appearance at the NBA Summer League, Williams was all alone at the top of the key. The Brooklyn Nets swung the ball back to him, and the 6-foot-6-inch Williams lined up a 3 as a Milwaukee Bucks defender made a decent close-out attempt on him.

The defense didn’t matter. Williams nailed it — nothing but net.

“Whether I play five minutes, whether I play 15, whether I play 25, I just try to go in and make plays,” Williams said. “You don’t know how many minutes you’re going to play before the game. But when you’re out there, for me, I’m just trying to do everything that I can to stay on the court.”

Williams only got five minutes of playing time Friday, as the Nets lost 94-90 to the Bucks. But the former Rebel wing shined when he got the chance.

Williams scored five points and didn’t miss a shot during his brief cameo. He scored a tough layup through contact to go along with his made 3 and added a rebound.

Nets coach Adam Caporn said Williams was limited by a fairly strict minutes plan. The Nets wanted to give second-year guards David Duke Jr. and Cam Thomas lots of time in the team’s first summer league game. But Caporn is certain Williams will get more chances after impressing Friday.

“I should’ve played him more,” Caporn said. “I thought he played really well — great energy, great personality, exciting talent. I thought he did a great job.”

Caporn, who coached the Nets G-League affiliate during the past season, wants to see Williams continue improving his jump shot and continue to add strength to his lanky frame. The coach also said Williams can use some refinement on some of the smaller details of playing in an NBA system, in particular communication.

Williams picked up two quick fouls. His first came while he tried to box out Bucks forward Dewan Hernandez, and the former Rebel picked up another after he fell behind on a drive to the rim. He also had a turnover after trying to isolate a Bucks defender, who knocked the ball off Williams and out of bounds.

However, Caporn was encouraged by what he saw from Williams. The Nets coach said more experience combined with Williams’ work ethic will help him continue to grow.

Williams isn’t worried about his minutes either. He’s simply taking in the experience of his first summer league.

Riding to the Thomas & Mack Center in the Nets team bus was a surreal experience for him, especially since they traveled along part of the same route he used to drive to reach the stadium while playing at UNLV.

Since his return to Las Vegas, his phone has blown up with college friends congratulating him or asking for tickets — he apologizes for only having four.

“I was trying to make sure the moment didn’t overtake me,” he said.

With plenty of games left and more minutes on the horizon, Williams is excited to continue proving himself to the Nets.

“This is the organization I want to play for,” he said. “If they have confidence in me, then that goes far.”

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

THE LATEST
10 things that will define NBA Summer League

From No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero to a return to normalcy, here are 10 things that stood out in the NBA Summer League, which concluded Sunday at UNLV.

Ex-Coronado star Jaden Hardy relishes chance with Mavericks

Jaden Hardy fell to the second round of the draft, but the guard averaged 15 points in the NBA Summer League for the Dallas Mavericks, who are excited about his potential.

Summer League players hope experience abroad leads to NBA

Many former Division I basketball players head overseas to continue their basketball journeys. Some are getting their first taste of summer league this year in hopes of making the NBA.