Derrick Williams is a 4 right now… act accordingly

Zach Harper —  December 15, 2011 — 14 Comments

The 2011 draft was always going to be a bit tricky.

In what was assumed to be, and what will most likely prove to be, a bad draft for teams seeking rescue from the lottery dungeon of the NBA, there was always going to be the very real possibility that the top picks in the draft may not be worthy of the stigma and expectations of being selected near the top of the draft. I, myself, was worried that selecting someone like Derrick Williams with the second pick would make us all fall in love with the number of the selection and assume he’ll come in right away and give immediate impact to the product on the floor.

After reading Jerry Zgoda’s notebook from today, I’m starting to think that Williams will be brought on a lot slower than we anticipated:

Derrick Williams’ NBA introduction is having its ups and down, enough so that Adelman said he’s asking him now solely to focus on playing power forward.

So much for some fans’ expectations I’ve picked up on Twitter and this here blog that he’d overtake Michael Beasley for the starting small forward job by as soon as opening night.

Remember Beasley was the second overall pick in a stronger 2008 draft and he’s played three pro seasons already.

Williams is struggling with defending small forwards — namely Beasley in practice — out on the floor and for those who wondered at draft time how much he was a duplication of Beasley for now must ask themselves this. Is he rather a duplication of Love?

The allure of Williams was not only his athleticism and skill, but the versatility he should be able to give to the Wolves. He could theoretically dominate at both the 3 and 4 positions and allow the Wolves to play both big or small at any given time. Having him guard someone as skilled offensively as Michael Beasley in training camp was a perfect way to baptize him by fire. See if you can stop him, kid, and we’ll see where you fit in to what we do.

Problem seems to be that he’s not ready to play so much on the perimeter as his college exploits might have hinted. If Williams can’t play the 3 in the NBA right now, then he adds even more to the logjam in the (high) post. This might not be a problem, per se. Going small with Love at center, Williams at the 4 and Beas at the 3 is something we’ve all dreamed about when thinking about the lineups for this team. But knowing it will be difficult to go the other way and play Love with Randolph and Williams flanking him means the hopes of versatility with the Wolves’ lineups quickly begin to vanish like people in photo due to changes in time travel.

Hopefully, this is just a rookie trying to get adjusted to the speed of the game. It’s a bit early to start to worry if Williams is going to be a building block long-term. At the same time, having realistic expectations of what we can expect from him may make things more enjoyable this season, just in case he either starts off much slower than we’d like or ends up breaking through those realistic expectations to make things more exciting for us.

Maybe Williams will stretch out uncomfortable PFs on the perimeter and be able to blow by them with ease. Or maybe he’ll struggle being such a tweener at the 3 and 4 positions and go into the off-season looking to drop 20lbs like Josh Smith did this off-season.

Either way, I trust Adelman to figure out how to best use him and bring him along the correct way.

Zach Harper

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14 responses to Derrick Williams is a 4 right now… act accordingly

  1. KAAAAHHHHHHHNNNNNN!!

    Good article tho. I have a lot of hope in Williams, but naturally his size is a concern. He seems to small to play PF and too big/slow for SF. Having him behind Love is almost like we wasted the pick. Ultimately I hope the Wolves can develop Williams into a solid PF and find a way to trade Love for the most we can get out of him, realizing he is not deserving of top FA money, nor will he stick around unless we give that to him.

  2. Zach-

    After the draft and signing of Adelman as coach, I was feeling pretty good about the direction of this team. But now I am starting to really wonder what they are doing. I just can’t wrap my head around how all the new pieces are going to fit together. We have duplication of roles, everywhere you look. And obviously they are going to make more moves, before the season begins. Presumably moving Ridnour, and possibly a few other pieces (is Brad Miller healthy? if so, is he valuable enough to keep?) But is there a clear direction here?

    A lot of people are not happy about the addition of Barea… but I personally believe it is a good move. I mean, what better way to break Rubio in, than to bring in an experienced, but still young, Spanish speaking guard. But what about a Bonzi Wells? Where exactly are they going with that move? Is Wes possibly on the move? And why are we focusing so intensely on smalls? Why wouldn’t we go after a Samuel Dalembert? Would he not be the perfect compliment to Love, down low? Granted, he brings limited offensive ability. But he is exactly what Love is not… a stopper at the rim. Or do the Wolves still really believe that Milicic can be that player?

    Help me out here…

  3. Zach, I think that Dalembert would be a good move, but I can’t imagine that the Wolves are very high on his list. Most of the teams in the league would like a little more defense out of the C position, so I assume he has his choice of suitors.

    What I would like the most is:

    1. Amnesty Webster and free up 5 mil, giving us 5-7 mil in space

    2. If Williams is really a 4 only, than Randolph has become expendable in the final year of his contract.

    3. We could package Ridnour and Randolph ( insert Beasley, Johnson, Peckovic, etc.. whatever we need to do to make your dreams come true with out sacrificing Love or Rubio.) in a trade scenario to upgrade the 5 or the 2. Since nobody is trading a 5, I think we would be forced to focus on the 2.

    4. Offer Denver a Ridnour + Randolph and 2 second rounders for a sign and trade of Afflalo.

    5. Offer Dalembert the rest of our cap room on a 2-3 year deal.

    Thoughts? comments? Our roster would look like:

    1- Rubio
    2- Afflalo
    3- Beasley
    4- Love
    5- Dalembert

    Bench- Berea, Johnson, Williams, Darko (that’s a GREAT bench, especially when you factor in Adelman’s style)

    Injury\ depth guys- Peckovic, Tolliver, Bonzi Wells ( can’t believe I just typed that), Lee, Brad Miller.

    i could go to bed and dream of an 8 seed with that group, right?

  4. Mickey- Seriously? trade Love huh? Kevin Love is worth max money in today’s NBA and has a rather unique skill set. Unless he refuses to re-sign, I can’t imagine voluntarily trading him. Why would we develop Williams into a “solid” PF if it meant we had to trade away an all star PF? Love is EASILY the best player we have had since KG, and I am not sure that trading him away could be productive in any scenario. I would like to hear what you think we could get back in return that would be more valuable to the T Wolves than Love himself.

  5. nate- i hate to answer a question with a question but…What do you think Love is worth? Yes he is the best player on the team…but i caution you with thinking trading him isn’t the right move because all Kahn has done so far is stockpile which puts the twolves in a nice position but until someone mans up and decides what direction this team i headed as far as system i can’t see how you could label anyone as untradable..rebounds are nice and if the system is win games with the score 150-149, then Love isn’t at all tradeable(hence the need for more offensive weapons(has anyone put a call in to Maya Moore yet?)). on the flip side, gaudy numbers are nice but its hard to rebound a made shot isn’t Adelman’s approach to reform the defense but what happens if Adelman’s new defense takes love out of position for three or four rebounds a game and he still becomes a bit of a liability? Love’s a nice piece to the puzzle but it all depends on the big picture. That’s the million dollar question to a wolves fan isn’t it?….

  6. It’s a smart question, Daniel. I think that Love is worth Max Money to the T wolves, particularly in Adelman’s system which would take advantage of his passing skills, and his skills in transition.

    Shareef Abdur Raheem aside, 20 and 10 big men are worth max money.

    Also, just to clarify, Love is not untradeable for me , I just wouldn’t give him away unless the pieces we received back could help the team more than he could. i don’t see a logical trade that gives that back.

    Love is more than fine offensively, people have a tendency to think of him as just a rebound monster, but this could not be further from the truth. He is the definition of a stretch 4 and is hands down the best 3 pt shooting starting power forward in the league. He is also excellent from the line, and above average on his 2 point attempts as well.

    I think that it is tempting to focus on your bests players faults when discussing the weakness of a team, but really, Love is the one thing that should remain a constant. We could have a player that leads the league in rebounds, leads PF’s in assists, and shoots deadly 3′s for 10 years- don’t worry about moving or replacing this guy! The biggest issues right now should be finding a defensive monster at C, and a PG who can run the game and defend the opposing guard ( presumably done with Rubio).

    In the end, I think that Love’s game is unique and that we should build around it- I am not a fan of trading away a known asset for lottery tickets. In my opinion, this is the guy we use all of our cap space for- especially when you consider that Minnesota will never (EVER) be a likely free agency destination for a max money player. We have to retain our guys, because we have no chance at recruiting elite talent through FA.

  7. Guys, guys, stop arguing. Didn’t you see my earlier post? I already solved all of our problems. Don’t worry about it…

  8. What about trading him for josh smith? And just curious does dirk play starting power forward? Hands down best PF 3 point shooter?

  9. Nate, “hands down the best 3 pt shooting starting power forward in the league”. Really? I think some guy named Dirk might have something to say about that….

  10. I’m an Arizona Wildcats fan, followed DWill closely in college. From the start I’ve been torn on his pro prospects, frankly. He’s as good a kid as they come, he’s got a tremendous work ethic and if you can find the right situation for him, he can excel. But yes, he IS the prototypical tweener. I’ve had doubts he can defend the 3, so I’m not surprised to see this report. I think where he can be most effective is at the 4. Yes, he’ll have a mismatch defensively with bigger players, but the same will be true for them, the bigger players will have no hope whatsoever of guarding him. Bring him up to the high post and there are very few 4s in this league who would be able to stay in front of him without fouling him, so they have to sag. Do that, and he can hit the long ball.

    I think you all have a very good player if you find ways to play to his strengths. If you try to fit a round whole into a square peg, you’re gonna have a problem, in my opinion. Good luck, even though I’m a Lakers fan from way back, I’ll be watching your team with great interest.

  11. Thanks for the kind words, Rick.
    First, I feel like having a coach like Adelman is really key for a talent like Williams. By all accounts and my own perspective Derick has a great personality, work ethic, etc. With an experienced hand guiding him like Adelman, it stands to reason that he can develop gradually and have confidence in an actual system and process.
    Second, time will tell if he can play 3 as well. With the shortened camp it will be wise to not overload him. We have a young team, I think it is best to just let the guys play and try to gain confidence from experience. I’m eager to see Dwill develop a complete game and hope to see a lot of highlight alley oops from Rubio like last night.

  12. OK, second best 3 pt shooting PF in the league.However, Dirk shot 39% last year and Love shot 41%. Dirk’s resume is so long and impressive that the argument is easily in his favor, but it’s worth noting that Love outshot him last year. Going forward, I think we can expect Love to improve and Dirk begin to decline.

  13. Yes, I think Adelman will be a great coach for him. The guy has a good reputation for developing players. No one on the team will work harder than DWill. His biggest transition will be on the defensive end of the court, but ask him to do things he can do, don’t overload him, and yeah, he’ll come along nicely. And nice way to get the preseason started!

  14. I’m way too late comment but wtf here goes anyway…

    Really, is there a need for D-Will to strictly play PF if he can become something awesomely chaotic like Gerald Wallace/Andres Nocioni/Ron Artest(world peace!) after some hard lateral speed training? While Love spreads the floor with his shooting, someone’s got to body up and get potential O.R.s and I’m not betting on the SG and PG to do that. Not even the C if that C is Darko, A.R. or Pek. In fact, D-Will and K-Love can even take turns doing the offensive rebounding and the shooting just to piss teams off.
    And if he and K-Love can pull the rebounds then the only thing the center needs to do is concentrate on boxing out and blocks, which i hope Darko/A.R./Pek can manage not to screw up too much.
    I say combo Love and D-Will to start, get B-Easy a slot on the pine as your angry mercurial 6th man a la JR Smith/Jet Terry/Jamal Crawford (or B-Jax/Hedo for Adelman’s Kings!)since all B-Easy wants to do is score anyway.

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