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.