Derrick Williams started practicing for the big event right after Thursday's practice. No time to waste.
The Timberwolves rookie forward learned Thursday morning he would be taking part in the slam dunk competition over All-Star weekend in Orlando.
It will be held Feb. 25, the day before the All-Star Game. The other participants will be Indiana's Paul George, New York's Iman Shumpert and Houston's Chase Budinger. The format has changed a bit: There will be one round, with three dunks for each participant, and the fans will do all the voting, either on Twitter or via texts.
So there was Williams, with fellow rookie Malcolm Lee acting as consultant, working on some dunks. And he came up with one pretty impressive move. He threw the ball off the backboard, grabbed it, went between the legs and slammed it home before trotting around the team's practice facility in a mock celebration.
"It's my rookie season, so just being a part of the dunk contest is pretty cool," said Williams, who remembered watching past contests as a kid. "A lot of people know that I can jump. I hope to use my athleticism out there [and] put on a show."
Williams, who said he has about a 38-inch vertical leap, has been in a contest before, back in 2010 when he was at Arizona. He didn't win; teammate Brendon Lavender did a dunk after doing a handstand and a backflip to win that competition.
Williams hopes to do better this time. He wouldn't divulge his strategy other than to say he might use the dunk he worked on Thursday. But he did give all sorts of credit to Ricky Rubio for getting him into the competition. Williams has 19 dunks this season, many coming off lob passes from Rubio.
And Williams hopes Rubio will be there helping him at the competition, saying: "He's not sure what he's doing yet, but hopefully he can help me out. I'll get more fan votes that way. Everybody loves Ricky."
According to coach Rick Adelman, fans shouldn't make too much of the fact neither Williams nor Michael Beasley played in the second half of Wednesday's victory over Charlotte. It wasn't a comment on what Beasley and Williams hadn't done, Adelman said. It was how well the unit on the floor for the end of the third quarter -- Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea and Martell Webster -- was playing.
"I played that group in the fourth quarter because they were doing what we wanted to do offensively," Adelman said. "I don't think it was a real up-and-down game. I liked our execution."
Adelman had the team watch film of that group playing Wednesday before it took to the court for Thursday's practice.
Adelman stressed that Beasley, in particular, will be needed in upcoming games.
"He is especially important off the bench," Adelman said. "Because he gives that scoring, that instant offense when he comes in. [Wednesday] night, that group was playing good, and I just kind of went with it. That's not going to be an every-night thing."
• Friday's game in Houston will be the first between the teams since Love stepped on the face of Rockets forward Luis Scola on Feb. 4, earning Love a two-game suspension. "I'll probably get booed," Love said. "But it's a dead issue. I'm sure it's a dead issue to their team, too. We've moved on. I've served the suspension, and it's all closed."
• Adelman was encouraged by the energy Webster brought to the team while playing 23 1/2 minutes Wednesday. Webster hit three of five shots and had six points, five rebounds and two steals.