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NBA Daily: Marcus Williams Bouncing Back on the Scene

Marcus Williams is working hard to earn a training camp invite and hopefully a roster spot on an NBA team, writes David Yapkowitz.

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This time of year is also known as the doldrums of the NBA offseason. Most major deals and free agent signings have already occurred and everyone’s just waiting around for training camp to open.

But this is actually an important time for many guys. For those without a guaranteed roster spot in the NBA, this is an opportunity for them to really work on improving their respective games. This is the time they can hone their craft in hopes of earning an invite to training camp and possibly a coveted roster spot.

Marcus Williams has had a taste of the NBA before. He was selected by the New Jersey Nets with 22nd overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. From 2006 to 2010, he bounced around from the Nets to the Golden State Warriors to the Memphis Grizzlies before heading overseas.

This past season, he tried something a little bit different. After being invited to training camp by the Sacramento Kings, he opted to join their G-League affiliate, the then Reno Bighorns (now Stockton Kings) after they cut him near the end of preseason.

“I think going into it, I didn’t really know how it was going to be,” Williams told Basketball Insiders. “I heard a lot of negativity. Not a lot of bad things, but just some things that kind of sway you away from it. It actually was everything the opposite, it was fun.”

Throughout the course of the G-League season, Williams played in 49 games for the Bighorns with 44 starts. He put up 10.8 points per game while shooting 37.1 percent from the three-point line and dishing out 6.9 assists.

It was a different sort of environment for Williams in that he was the elder veteran on the team. At 32 years old, he was in a locker room full of guys in their mid-twenties. But overall it was a great experience for him, one that turned out much different from what he initially expected.

“That’s what I can say the most about it, is that it was really fun,” Williams told Basketball Insiders. “The team was younger than me, but they kept the atmosphere active. Basketball was fun, we played against a lot of good talent. There’s a lot of good talent in the G-League.”

The G-League has expanded tremendously since its inception as the National Basketball Development League back in 2001. Earlier this year, high school phenom Darius Bazley made headlines when he announced his decision to bypass college and play in the G-League while preparing for the 2019 NBA Draft.

Talk was heating up of that route becoming a new option of sorts for high school players interested in turning pro right away and needing to wait at least one year to enter the NBA Draft. Having experienced the G-League personally, Williams isn’t sure that’s what’s best for young players.

“It’s hard because you have to step into the situation and you have to play your ass off. You ultimately want to go to the NBA. For you to play your ass off against so many guys at that same stage that are a lot more developed than you are, not to say that you can’t play, but it’s a real uphill battle for guys coming out of high school,” Williams told Basketball Insiders. “You’re playing against guys that are about 24, 25 years old that are top athletes that are faster, stronger, smarter, you really have to be a smart player.”

While many veteran guys with NBA experience have begun to use the G-League as a springboard back to the league, Williams isn’t sure what’s next for him. His initial reason for playing in the G-League wasn’t necessarily to get back in the NBA, but to not have to travel overseas for another year.

“Honestly, it was just staying home. Playing in Europe, it’s tiring, I kind of wanted to stay home,” Williams told Basketball Insiders. “I’m kind of just waiting around to see what offers I get. It’s a toss-up right now. Like I said, it was fun and I think that situation was just ideal for me. I knew some of the guys in Sacramento from going to training camp, it was a comfortable situation. It fell in line.”

While his season in the G-League definitely helped, there is one place that Williams returns to every summer to work on his game in anticipation for wherever he plays next. A Los Angeles native, Williams attended Crenshaw High School for three years before transferring to famed Oak Hill Academy for his senior year.

That one place Williams comes back to is the Drew League. Originally a small league played in a middle school gym, the Drew League has since soared in popularity with some of the best offseason runs in the country taking place there every summer.

This summer, Williams’ team, featuring former NBA players Cuttino Mobley and Glen “Big Baby” Davis, as well as Aaron Harrison who finished last season with the Dallas Mavericks, fell short in the league’s championship game.

“I think it keeps you polished. There’s guys in here that don’t play anywhere, guys that play around the world, guys that play in the NBA, guys that play everywhere. It’s not about that here. It’s about who you play for in here. I think that’s the best part about it,” Williams told Basketball Insiders. “Nobody gets paid, that doesn’t matter. If you’re getting your ass busted, you’re getting your ass busted no matter who it is. Coming back here is refreshing. You get a lot of stuff during the season where you’re getting injuries, you’re getting political stuff with the team, here you just come in and play basketball. It’s fun, you got your family and friends, you got guys you grew up with coming to watch you play.”

As of now, Williams has yet to sign with a team for this upcoming season. But with his recent play in the G-League and even his play at the Drew League, it’s a safe bet that he’s put his name back on NBA team radars.

David Yapkowitz has been a staff writer for Basketball Insiders since 2017. Based in Los Angeles, he focuses on the Pacific Division as well as the NBA at large.

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