Williams has always been more comfortable at power forward, so this could be the opportunity for him to make a consistent impact that coach Rick Adelman has been waiting to see from him. Williams impressed coaches with his physical conditioning and aggressive approach to practice when training camp began, but the playing time has still been sporadic.
He played just seven minutes Tuesday night against Haifa while Adelman took longer looks at the starting unit and Cunningham off the bench at power forward. Cunningham and Lou Amundson have both impressed Adelman with their tenacity and aggressiveness both in games and during practice.
“I think he’s really an energy guy,” Adelman has said about Cunningham. “Very good defender. Does all the little things. Him and Lou are very similar. The things that maybe we didn’t do so well last year, running down loose balls, getting to the offensive boards, keeping the boards alive.”
Adelman also has the versatile Kirilenko, who can play both forward positions, to lean on. He could choose to slide Kirilenko to power forward and use Chase Budinger at the small forward in another starting lineup.
Love’s absence will also put more pressure on veteran shooting guard Brandon Roy’s knees to hold up. Roy was signed in the offseason after missing last year with chronic knee issues. He has held up very well so far in the preseason, and his scoring now becomes even more crucial to fill Love’s void.
Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski
AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell contributed to this report.
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