The 2011 ESPN TrueHoop Network NBA Mock Draft is here and I’m more than glad to represent the Wolves with the second pick. Each selection will be made available on network sites, will cover just the first round, and will be made according to prediction, not some blogger preference. Enjoy.
Check back hourly for picks until 5 pm today, pick 11 will start at 8 am on Tuesday.
#1 — Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers — Cavs The Blog
With the 2nd pick in the 2011 TrueHoop Network Mock Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select Derrick Williams from the University of Arizona.
While some may be wondering just how many forwards the Wolves can acquire in one 15-man roster (point guard jokes are SOOOOOOO before Ricky Rubio signed), this kind of has to be the pick for Minnesota in this draft. Now the Wolves have a glutton of tweeners at the forward position and it means they’ll have options in moving one, two or all of them.
The reason they take Derrick Williams is because he’s the next closest player to Kyrie Irving that is capable of becoming a star in this league. It doesn’t mean he will become a star though. Derrick Williams is an athletic freak that doesn’t always move all that athletically. He’s a deadeye shooter that doesn’t always snipe from long distance at a mercurial rate. He’s a can’t-miss prospect that could very well miss.
Does all of this seem confusing and contradictory? Absolutely. That’s kind of what I feel about Derrick Williams. He contradicts himself without ever really trying to. And it’s not necessarily his fault; he just is a pretty good player in a very star-shallow draft.
When I say he’s an athletic freak who can’t doesn’t always move all that athletically, here’s what I mean. Derrick Williams can be very explosive off the bounce. He gets up to the rim quickly and drops the hammer down on opponents like he’s playing Whack-a-Mole. Every time he comes down the lane, he gets a bit of a burst of athleticism. But when he’s moving around with the ball and trying to create in a less cutting-through-the-lane kind of way and more of an I-have-to-do-this-all-myself kind of way, the result is a bit of a plodding and clumsy player.
It doesn’t mean he’s bad or really all that clumsy. I’ve just noticed that he can move pretty awkwardly and in a heavy manner when he’s forced to put the ball on the floor. At times, he looks a little like Boris Diaw to me. Not so much with his skills but just the way he moves around. Darius Soriano from Forum Blue & Gold thought he looked more like Glenn Robinson with the way he plays. I can see both at times, which kind of scares me and yet intrigues me too.
When I say he’s a deadeye shooter that doesn’t always snipe from long range, here’s what I mean. Derrick Williams had a ridiculous 3-point percentage last year. He made 56.8% of his 3s last season, which sounds like a drool-worthy basketball skill. However, I’m a little skeptical because he hasn’t always had this reputation for being a long-range threat.
He only took 16 attempts from 3 as a freshman. As a sophomore (when he set his 56.8% mark) Williams attempted 74 3-pointers. Typically, shooters shoot no matter what their role is at the college level. And yet, Derrick Williams didn’t come in and establish himself as a long-range threat. Is it fair to favor his freshman numbers over his sophomore numbers? No, not at all. It just makes me skeptical and hesitant to buy into the fantastic shooting from this past season.
If we took Derrick Rose’s December 3-point shooting, he attempted 73 3-point shots and made 43.8% of those shots. That furious long-range shooting from early in the season gave everyone reason to believe his 3-point shot was now a deadly weapon. For months, he’d be touted as an improved shooter. But take away that month and he shot 30.7% from 3-point range. See how deceiving 73 or 74 3-point attempts can be?
Now what does all of this mean for the Wolves?
By taking Williams, they would possess a jam of logs at the forward position. You’re (hopefully) not going to take minutes away from Kevin Love by trying to fit Anthony Randolph, Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams into the lineup. With Randolph possessing some defensive skills that Beasley just doesn’t, it makes Michael the most expendable asset of the bunch. And ultimately, this is a good thing for Minnesota.
It would be easy to look at Beas’ scoring average this past season and get tricked into thinking you need to lock him up with a new contract. But that would ignore the ball-stopping frustration he brought to the offense most nights. Yes, he got his points, but at what cost to the overall team flow? This offense is supposed to be cemented in ball movement and player movement from reading where the defense isn’t. It shouldn’t be cemented into Beasley’s understanding that when he gets the ball, it’s supposed to become a projectile towards the rim every time.
With Williams, you won’t have to worry about that. He’ll move the ball and move without the ball even more. You can probably use him as a quicker option against most power forwards or stronger options against most small forwards. He’s a huge guy at about 6’9” and over 240 lbs. His size and athleticism could give the Wolves more options without the stagnation that Beasley’s versatility gives Minnesota.
Just because I’m not sold on Derrick Williams being a star from this draft class, certainly doesn’t mean Minnesota shouldn’t pick him. Unless you can bring in a legit veteran to bring this roster closer to the playoffs, I say continue to acquire assets that may be more valuable down the road.
Williams’ potential makes him an asset to hold for later trades AND an asset that could becoming something integral to the Wolves.
And he’s the only option at the second pick, which continues to give the Wolves so many more options with constructing this roster.