Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/8/11
MINNEAPOLIS As Timberwolves players slowly made their way back to Minneapolis this week to work out at Target Center, the NBA's No. 2 overall pick was still missing. But Derrick Williams, who Minnesota drafted out of Arizona in June, was finally on the court Thursday, taking part in light workouts as well as a five-on-five scrimmage with his teammates. "It's just good to get out there and play again because I haven't played a game since, like, March," Williams said. "Just coming out here, especially with a lot of people back here, still a couple people missing, but we looked pretty good. We have good athletes on the team." Williams is one of them. The 6-foot-8 forward left Arizona after his sophomore season, in which he averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the Wildcats on the way to being named the Pac-10 Player of the Year. Minnesota drated him after Duke guard Kyrie Irving went to Cleveland with the top pick. It was the highest pick the Timberwolves have had in franchise history, and Williams was the logical choice at No. 2 once Irving was off the board. While the expectations may be high for Williams to step in as a rookie and add instant offense, he says he's not feeling the pressure that comes along with being a high draft pick. "I feel like being No. 2 is just a number. I feel like once you hit that first game, it doesn't really matter what pick you are," Williams said. "Everybody's fighting for the same spot. Everybody's trying to be the best player out there. Eventually, that No. 2's going to fade away. It's going to be up to me to try and prove why I was the No. 2 pick, at the end of the day." Williams spent much of his summer working out in Arizona while keeping in touch with his former Wildcats teammates. As the NBA's lockout dragged on, however, he grew concerned about whether he made the right choice to leave school early. He said he considered signing to play in Europe but ultimately chose to stay home. Now that he's finally in Minneapolis, it was the right call, he said Thursday. "Oh yeah, it was a big concern," Williams said of the lockout. "Actually, I was thinking about signing with a team in Spain or Italy the week that we came off of the lockout. Good thing I didn't. I'm still here. I'm just glad we're about to play." Williams joined fellow Timberwolves Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Ricky Rubio, Anthony Tolliver and others for Thursday's workout and a somewhat intense scrimmage. Early on, Williams' teammates were impressed with his game and see him as a versatile threat capable of playing either small forward or power forward. "He's a heck of a player. We'll see how Coach (Rick Adelman) fits him in and everything," Tolliver said. "He's kind of a unique player I guess he's a lot like Beasley. He can play multiple positions. He has the athleticism, too. We'll see." Rubio, too, drew rave reviews from his new teammates. The 21-year-old Spanish point guard joined Minnesota this offseason after the Wolves drafted him in 2009. Known more for his passing than his scoring ability, Rubio demonstrated his court vision in Thursday's scrimmage. A few times, his teammates were caught off-guard but his flashy behind-the-back passes. "He's made some pretty spectacular passes. I'm very excited to play with him," said Anthony Randolph. "It's very contagious the way he passes the ball. It kind of makes everybody want to make the extra pass." Tolliver wasn't on Rubio's team during the scrimmage but was still impressed with the rookie's handle. "It's crazy. His regular passes are like, Wow,'" Tolliver said. "He can see the floor about as good as anyone I've seen. Pretty amazing." Timberwolves fans are waiting for their first glimpse of the Spanish phenom, and they'll have their first chance on Dec. 26 when Minnesota hosts Oklahoma City in the season opener. But Thursday's scrimmage was the first chance many of Rubio's teammates had to play with him. "That was the first time I've ever seen him play, period. On film, I've never seen anything," Tolliver said. "He's actually better than I expected." It may have been just one scrimmage, but Rubio and Williams got off on the right foot with their new teammates. Rubio even (temporarily) squashed doubts of his inability to shoot, knocking down several jumpers. "I don't know who came out and said he couldn't shoot," Tolliver said. "I don't think he missed today. At the end of the day, he's going to be good for us."
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