Johnathan Williams is a 24 year old 206cm forward from Memphis, Tennessee playing his second professional season and first with Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion (Israel-Winner League). Last season he split time with the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) playing 23 games averaging 6.8ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 60.2%, FT: 56.3%, and also played with the South Bay Lakers (NBA G League) playing 35 games averaging 15.7ppg, 8.7rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 57.9%, 3PT: 23.8%, FT: 44.2%. He began his NCAA career in 2013 with Missouri (NCAA) playing a total of 67 games and then moved to Gonzaga University (NCAA) playing 56 games and as a senior played 37 games averaging 13.4ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.6apg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT: 22.9%, FT: 54.0%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball recently before a Eurocup game against ratiopharm Ulm.
Jonathan thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Welcome to Germany. How have you been able to appreciate the European travel and cultures in comparison what you saw in the NBA and G-League?
While I have enjoyed experiencing European travel and cultures very much, I have to say that nothing has compared to experiencing Israel and experiencing what a unique and beautiful country it is. From the people to the weather to the food I don’t think I have ever experienced anything quite like Israel. I love it here.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball? Have you had any friends or ex teammates that have played here?
I know the German teams well from watching a number of games on my off days. I also have friends that are playing and have played there. So I definitely have a familiarity with it.
Your playing your first season overseas with Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion (Israel-Winner League). You had a strong G-League season with the South Bay Lakers and also put up respectable stats for a roster filled Lakers team. Why did you choose to come to Europe and not take some of that momentum from your rookie season and remain there?
I enjoyed my time with South Bay and with the Lakers but I am also truly enjoying my time with Rishon now as well. I wanted to embrace the challenge of playing successfully in Europe and that is all my attention is on for now: winning games for Rishon.
Americans are always raving about how great it was playing in Israel. How have you been able to appreciate the culture there besides just the good weather and food?
I love it in Israel. I look forward to visiting many of the historic sites such as Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and other areas in whatever free time I have. But for now my focus is on winning game for Rishon.
Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion (Israel-Winner League) has an interesting roster with five Americans and also players from other countries. You are a guy that will carry the team. Is this season like a spring board to get back to the NBA next season?
I don’t look at it like that at all. This season is about helping Maccabi Rishon win games. Period. I play for Rishon not for the NBA.
How vital has center Darryl Monroe been for your early adjustment period. The guy is a true veteran that also knows how to play the game well. Is he a guy where you have been able to soak up some of the tricks of the European style?
He has been a great teammate for sure.
What part of your game has already improved that has happened due to you playing in the European style?
I honestly haven’t had a chance to think about that. As long as we win games I believe my game is improving in the right way. It has to be if we are winning. Hopefully many of the intangibles that I have brought to Rishon have helped the team and will continue to help the team win.
You played your rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) playing 23 games averaging 6.8ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 60.2%, FT: 56.3%, and played also with the South Bay Lakers (NBA G League) playing 35 games averaging 15.7ppg, 8.7rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 57.9%, 3PT: 23.8%, FT: 44.2%. You finished the season strong with the Los Angeles Lakers. There was talk of Anthony Davis coming for months. Did that trade end hurt your chances of remaining?
I have no idea. Only the Los Angeles Lakers could answer that question.
What was your wake up call to being in the NBA where you knew right away that the NBA is foremost a business and any feelings of players is put aside?
I only had positive memories of my time in the NBA as I had an opportunity to play with some great teammates and learn from great coaches.
You were teammates with Lebron James. Was there any quality of his game that you were able to soak up in the time that you were there?
There were a number of players in the NBA that I took bits and pieces of learning from what they do. The NBA is a league of “specialists” and I tried to learn as much as I could. Hopefully I am still learning.
You were teammates with Isaac Bonga in the G-League and NBA. He also was effected by the trade being dealt to the Washington Wizards. He played a lot of point guard as a youngster in Germany. Where do you see his route going in the NBA?
Right now his route is as a starter for the Washington Wizards so I think is route is going just fine.
You had a solid NBA Summer League with the Houston Rockets averaging 8,6ppg and 6,0rpg. That was another situation where the club was packed with big men.Do you feel like German Isaiah Hartenstein will finally get a chance there this season?
I think Isaiah is a talented, athletic front court player for sure. But as far as his opportunity that he will get there you would have to ask that question to Houston.
You began your NCAA career with Missouri in 2013 and played two season´s there. You were able to improve your scoring and rebounding each season. Do you ever wonder where you might be today had you remained in Missouri?
I honestly don’t as I have a special place in my heart for both my experience at Missouri as well as my experience at Gonzaga.
You then moved to Gonzaga in 2016 and finished there putting up very solid stats of 10,2ppg and 6,4rpg and as a senior 13.4ppg, 8.5rpg. Was going to Gonzaga one of your best decisions in your life?
Going to Gonzaga is full of memories I will always cherish.
You reached the NCAA final in 2017. What will you remember most from that 71-65 loss where you steered home 9 points and 5 boards?
I will remember most that we lost. I wish we would have won.
What do you remember of the day to day battles in Practice with French forward Killian Tillie? Did some of his European skills rub off on you?
He was a solid player who had a unique set of skills. I enjoyed playing and practicing against him a lot
How did head coach Mark Few groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He taught me how to play hard every night; play responsibly every night; and to play the “right way” every night.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Killian Tillie?
I don’t remember scores from practice. Only games
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
I wouldn’t want to narrow it down to one player. I played against quite a few tough players but I also hope that I was one of the tougher players that others had to play against too.
Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time debate with Michael Jordan?
I never saw Michael Jordan play in person so I am not really qualified to give an opinion on that.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Dolemite is my name
Thanks Johnathan for the chat