A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Why the Minnesota Timberwolves taking Derrick Williams #2 is a bad idea

with 5 comments

Derrick Williams.

Image by Neon Tommy via Flickr

Since the Minnesota Timberwolves landed the #2 pick in last month’s NBA lottery, insiders like Chad Ford (ESPN.com) and Jonathan Givony (Draftexpress.com) have stated their interest in taking Derrick Williams 2nd. Williams has long been ranked the 2nd best prospect in the draft.

I believe Minnesota taking Williams is a bad idea.

One of the biggest questions about Derrick Williams is whether he is a SF or PF. I see him as a clear PF. He should specialize playing the pick and roll and pick and pop with his ability to finish and hit outside jumpers. He thrives with the space created by these plays like a less athletic Amare Stoudemire. That’s where his offensive all-star potential is. There were initial concerns about his 6’8 size but having a good 7’2 wingspan makes up for it, as similarly sized but long players David West, Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap have shown.

The small forward position on the other hand, where Minnesota will play him if he’s drafted there due to Kevin Love‘s presence at PF, plays to his weaknesses. He is not a great ballhandler and will be slow for the 3 spot. Together, this means he will likely struggle to take SFs off the dribble. His biggest weapon at the 3 offensively will be height and height, allowing him to elevate over defenders for jumpshots and to play a bit in the post. This is how Michael Beasley last season and Glenn Robinson before him scored their points – and in both cases it was inefficient. Defensively, Williams will be just as much a problem at the 3 as those two players. He will not have the lateral quickness to stay on fast SFs in the halfcourt or transition. I cannot see Williams as much of an impact player at SF. He may score 15 points a game as early as next year, but I see them as empty points for the same reason Beasley’s last season were.

If Minnesota makes Williams their future SF, it just adds to their defensive problems and offensive confusion. The team already has a natural SF in Wes Johnson and two SF/PFs in Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph. Where do they fit in the rotation with Williams and Love? They certainly don’t compliment their games. Nor do they (or anyone) fit particularly well with Ricky Rubio. The Wolves think Rubio is going to come over and start killing teams on the pick and roll with Kevin Love – The problem is the essence of the pick and roll is worrying about both the guard and big scoring. Rubio is a terrible scorer, averaging 5 points a game in Europe. So it’s hard to imagine that working well. They’ll just guard Love and not Rubio.

With a Williams draft pick, the Wolves will continue down their road of putting prospects on a court together who don’t fit or play off each other offensively and who play 0 defense. That’s how you lose games. Losing games will mean losing Kevin Love to free agency after his rookie contract and possibly losing the team. The Wolves are bleeding money as much as anyone and haven’t made the playoffs since 2003-2004.

All and all, I just wouldn’t go down this path of Williams at SF. He loses much of what makes him a great prospect at that position and it adds to the Timberwolves disarray positionally. If Minnesota drafts Williams #2, expect a season that looks a lot like 2010-2011. Confusion, poor defense and losses.

5 Responses

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  1. If he goes to Minny and plays SF, I see him developing into a more exciting version of Luol Deng, with lesser man defense. I’m not a fan of Deng to begin with, so that’s not very good. I agree he’ll be better at the PF, which is a position Minny can’t put him currently. It’ll be interesting to see what the T’Wolves do.


    June 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm

  2. […] Grade: C-. My thoughts on the Minnesota Williams pick are  here: http://asubstituteforwar.com/2011/06/09/why-the-minnesota-timberwolves-taking-derrick-williams-2-is-…. Williams is a remarkably bad fit for the […]

  3. Given the choices they’ve made they probably should play Love a lot at center. That would ease the logjam at PF and SF and might work.


    November 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm

  4. You might be interested in the Heat comments I made at the end of this thread.


    November 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm

  5. Sorry that last post was meant for a different article here.


    November 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm

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