With the second pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Derrick Williams, an athletic forward out of Arizona. Although many pundits considered the 2011 class to be relatively weak compared to the past and future draft classes, there didn’t seem to be many people who openly doubted the talents of Derrick Williams. Although stellar from beyond the arc in a few games this past season, Williams’ lack of a consistent jumper, his inability to rely solely on his athletic ability, and shoddy defense have caused warranted concern from the Timberwolves fans and front office alike.
After his incredibly inconsistent play during the 2011-2012 campaign, Williams finds himself in a “prove it or lose it” spot. Now 21, Willaims will have to complete for a starting job on the Wolves roster – A roster that consists of Wes Johnson, Chase Budinger, and potentially Robbie Hummel. Williams has made it clear that he wants to play the 3 position. A nose job and fifteen pounds lighter he knows that he didn’t meet the goals and expectations that were set for him last season, “I know I can play a lot better than I did,” Williams said. “In some parts of last season, I thought I had some good games. I just need to be more consistent.”
With summer league now in full swing, Williams has the chance to prove to his critics that he is eligible to be a legitimate candidate for the Timberwolves small forward spot. Yet he has failed to impress in a league composed of has-beens(see Adam Morrison) and second tier European league “talent”. In his past two showings, Williams seems to continue to struggle in the same areas that absolutely have to be fixed: his sub-par dribbling and questionable shot selection.
In the Wolves first Summer League game, Williams finished a 32 minute performance recording 15 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, a block, and 3 turnovers while shooting 4-12 from the field and 6-12 from the line. A cross over, turnover, and a foul. That was the sequence late in the third quarter that caused Wolves fans to cringe, and rightfully so. I don’t want to make too quick of a comparison here, but the over-hyped Wes Johnson was praised for the exact same type of play in college that rocketed Derrick Williams to the top of almost every draft board: the ability to drive and dunk on pure athleticism alone. Now in the NBA, Williams must consistently find his shot and cut down on his clumsy ball-handling to avoid becoming Wes Johnson 2.0.
Before we rush to judgement however, the biggest upside to Derrick’s game has been his aggressiveness. In the Wolves first two Summer League games Williams has been to the line twelve times a piece. Although it is nice to see Williams get to the line, his free throw shooting has been dreadful, making only 13 of his 24 attempts, a Dwight Howard-esque 54% from the line.
Looking for a bright spot in a Summer League game is like looking for a needle in a haystack with Williams. He continued to struggle against the Bobcats shooting 5-12 from the field – a combined 9-25 in his first two Summer League games. He finished the game with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 6 turnovers in 32 minutes.
Although Derrick is lobbying hard to be a starter at the 3, head coach Rick Adelman seemed anything but convinced, “I’m definitely not sold.” I am not sure many people are sold on Williams starting at the 3 this season, let alone with starting in itself.
Here is a breakdown of Williams’ averages in the first two Summer League games
FG Percent: 36%
FT Percent: 54%
Some Derrick Williams Highlights