When the Houston Rockets waived him just before the start of the regular season, Reggie Williams could have continued his basketball development just about anywhere.
He chose to do it with the Tulsa 66ers.
“It was just a great opportunity,” said Williams, the 6-foot-6 guard who was called up by the Thunder on Thursday on a 10-day contract. “Just the organization and how closely they work with the Thunder, it’s just like a mirror. So those guys giving me a chance to come in and learn their system and help me develop has been great so far.”
Williams became the 31st player this season called up from the NBA D-League. He is the sixth in Thunder history. His addition represents yet another example of how the 66ers, with the Thunder backing them as the parent club, have blossomed into a premier destination for player development.
Last season, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III spent time in Tulsa. Both are rotation players on the Thunder this season, with Jones now serving as a fill-in starter for injured guard Thabo Sefolosha. Reggie Jackson, who has started 30 games for the Thunder this year, got seasoning in Tulsa as well. So did rookie Andre Roberson, who has started four games for the Thunder this season. He has appeared in 17 games as a member of the 66ers.
Other former Thunder players who developed in Tulsa include Shaun Livingston, Byron Mullens, Daniel Orton, D.J. White and Kyle Weaver.
Williams said what makes the 66ers developmental approach special is the organization’s close partnership with the Thunder.
“To the best of their ability, they try to treat us as if we were here in the NBA, providing us with food, providing us with a full staff to help us develop and get better; weight program,” Williams said. “I mean, when you play for the 66ers, it’s almost as close to being in the NBA as you can get without actually being there with everything that they do for you, which is similar to here. It’s not (the NBA), obviously, but for the league and being a minor league team, I mean, they treat you very well. Their main focus is to help the players and guys develop and get to the next step, whether it’s for them or the NBA or whether it’s overseas or whatever.”
Williams certainly benefited.
The 27-year-old out of Virginia Military Institute was averaging a team-leading 21.1 points for the 66ers, along with 5.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 37.5 minutes. He is the D-League’s reigning Performer of the Week for his efforts in leading the 66ers to a 3-0 record while averaging 25.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals.
“They’ve been patient with me, taking the time to work with me and help me get back to ultimately where I want to be, as well as everybody else down there,” Williams said. “They’ve been great so far.”
Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins (groin) are not traveling with the team while recovering from injuries...Kevin Durant visited with boxing legend Muhammad Ali at his Phoenix-area home Thursday afternoon...Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder and Oklahoma native Matt Kemp attended Thursday’s game, sitting courtside next to the Thunder’s bench.