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A year later, the Wolves drafting Williams still doesn’t make sense for anyone

Oct 13, 2012, 1:00 PM EDT

Derrick Williams

From Canis

At some point, I think this team is just going to have to face the facts: Williams is a guy who could potentially be a pretty good power forward, on a team that has absolutely no minutes available at power forward.

It’s not like the Wolves are oblivious to this sort of thing. The reason we got Cunningham in the first place is because the team saw it had a need for a hustler/defender in the post and no minutes available for Wayne Ellington on the wings.

I like Williams, and I think he’ll have a good career as a valuable player, but I don’t see how it will happen here. He’s a stretch 4, on a team that already has one of the best, if not the best, stretch 4s in the league. With Kirilenko and Cunningham filling in the gaps around Love, how is Williams going to find space?

via What to do with Williams – Canis Hoopus.

When the Wolves landed the No.2 pick in the lottery for 2011, it was manna from heaven. Another star young player to add to their core. They were already going to be better with Ricky Rubio joining Kevin Love and later, Rick Adelman. But the problem was that the draft was considered a particularly weak one, and big-heavy at the top outside of Kyrie Irving. Picks 2-7 were all bigs, it would turn out, if you consider Williams a big.

We’re not playing revisionist history, here. This is not some “it didn’t make sense in retrospect.” At the time, everyone said ‘They have to trade the pick, right? Right?” There was rampant speculation they would move out of the lottery, and the Wolves were involved in talks repeatedly for Williams, included a speculated trade with the Lakers. But in the end, nothing developed, and the Wolves simply took the No.2 guy, Derrick Williams.

Here’s the crazy part. They drafted a good player who wound up having a decent rookie season. He didn’t blow anyone away, he didn’t establish himself outright, but then again, he was playing out of position on a team that was gunning for a playoff spot until Rubio’s injury. In maybe the most Timberwolves thing ever, they drafted a good player and still wound up making a mistake. Do you know how hard that is?

So now Williams continues to drift between two worlds, trying to establish himself, playing out of position, and not even filling the needs of the position in terms of who the Wolves are.

The Timberwolves have made a ton of good moves over the past two years, and David Kahn deserves a lot of credit for that. The Wolves are not only respectable but could be a playoff team for the first time since KG left, and that takes some doing. They’ve managed the cap and their roster well. But Williams remains the oddest situation where they drafted the best player in his range (consider that Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard weren’t even top ten), and isn’t a bust, and yet it was a poor pick. Here’s hoping the Wolves can move him for an upgrade at a position of need and that he gets a chance to develop in a more natural setting. It’s not that he’s not good and not developing. It’s that things could be so much better for him elsewhere.

  1. apooster - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    At 6’8 he’s a SF, not a PF. He did not shoot well at all last year to be considered a threat at the 3. If he can shoot better, play defense, Adelman will find minutes for him.

    • tcclark - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Elton Brand is 6’8 and one of the most protypical Power Forwards ever. It’s not about height. Hell, Magic Johnson was 6’9. It’s about skill set. I’m not sold on Williams at the PF, but I’m not sold on him at SF either. Right now he’s a man without a position. He needs to develop a jump shot to be a 3 and get a little better guarding wing players. He needs to develop a better post game (offensive and defensive) and become a better rebounder if he wants to be a 4.

      Right now though, a guy who shoots under 30% from 10 feet on cannot play on the wing. he should be playing the four, but Adelman’s gonna be forced to play him at the 3.

    • albertmn - Oct 14, 2012 at 8:55 PM

      Kevin Love’s pre-draft height was measured at 6′ 7.75″. Just google “Kevin Love actual height”, if you don’t believe it.

      So, if 6′ 8″ is really too short to play PF, how does Love get it done, and lead the league in rebounding?

      • albertmn - Oct 14, 2012 at 8:56 PM

        Forgot the mention, but Love slides to the 5 quite a bit, so there may be more minutes open at the 4 than you think.

  2. funktron2x - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Wish my Spurs could make a deal for him somehow.

  3. 00maltliquor - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    I still don’t buy him as a 4. He should start at the 3 and all should be alright. Don’t think Kirlenko is a 4 either. Cunningham may only play once every 4 games or so, forgot to mention Lou Amundson, he’ll be the backup PF.

    Hehehe…”manna from heaven”! I thought that was Darko.

  4. joeyashwi - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    If they wouldn’t have taken him at 2, everybody would say how stupid they were not to take him. You take the best player, period. Williams will be a great player WITHOUT being traded away. Pek, Love, Williams, Rubio, Roy with a strong veteran bench sounds pretty good. And yes, I think Williams should be starting at the 3. The only way to improve is to play. Love wasn’t half the player he is now in his first two years.

    • observingii - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      They didn’t pay Kirilenko $20M to sit on the bench behind Willliams and they definitely aren’t going to sit Love, so where does Williams go?

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Oct 14, 2012 at 10:59 AM

        Here’s the thing, AK-47 is on a 2 year deal with a player option for a 2nd. Adelman is in a win now mode considering his age. Does Adelman want to deal wih a player in his 2nd season still learning the NBA game or does he want a veteran that knows what he’s doing at a high level?

    • tcclark - Oct 13, 2012 at 4:02 PM

      You don’t throw away a season with such high hopes just so you can hope Williams gets better. His problem is shooting. He doesn’t need to play in order to get better at shooting. He needs to dedicate himself to getting better. Spend extra time in the gym improving your jump shot because you cannot play someone shooting 29% from outside of 10 feet at that 3 spot.

  5. ummnah - Oct 13, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    they drafted him because they knew they would never be able to keep Kevin Love. Kevin Love will be a Chicago Bull in a few years and Williams will be the T’Wolves’ starting PF.

    • getadealdonealready - Oct 13, 2012 at 6:27 PM

      umm, that’s why he just signed a cap friendly deal last year that will allow them to lock up other players as they are about to become FA?

      • ummnah - Oct 14, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        umm yea thats why he can opt out in 3 years when he realizes nobody else is going to want to play in Minnesota. You honestly think Ricky Rubio and another decent player are going to be able to make Kevin Love stay there? Keep dreamin

  6. buffalo65 - Oct 13, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Kevin Loves dream is to be a Raptor.

  7. packhawk04 - Oct 13, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    Kevin love is leaving the wolves? How will he do that after signing an extension?

  8. glink123 - Oct 13, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    Does “Williams” have a first name?

  9. rajbais - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    Rick Adelman took a bad job without hindsight. David Kahn has more screw ups than success stories.

    If any coach can stay away from the Bobcats to avoid losing they can do the same with Kahn when they want to go to the playoffs.

  10. nbascreed - Oct 14, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    Please see my blog post on this topic. I’d be interested in any constructive criticism and any counter-argument as to why the broader hoops community needs to continue to accept the antiquated notion of Positions 1, 2, 3 4 or 5.

  11. e39er - Oct 14, 2012 at 3:25 AM

    Positions are over…especially in today’s game, he is a man without a true position but like many state he needs to get better in order for T’wolves to get better, I would bench him and move him to be the 6th man and let him wreak havoc on teams benches, then slowly develop him and go from there, sick and tired of traditional positions especially in today’s game where point guards are the leading scorers and forwards are bringing up the ball

  12. scottieplongballs - Oct 14, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    I remember hearing a story of him losing weight this offseason to be faster and more agile. He sounds committed to improvement. He will find his niche on this playoff bound team. #raja=brainless

  13. greatminnesotasportsmind - Oct 14, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    The Wolves drafted Williams and will have to keep Williams.

    The drafted Williams because he was the best player available to them when they drafted him. When you have a high draft pick, you always take the best player available reguardless of position. It doesn’t matter that they have Kevin Love already. Why would you draft a player with a lower ceiling just because you already have someone playing the same position with higher upside? That just doesn’t make sense.

    The Wolves will have to keep Williams, because the 5 year extention Kevin Love signed, really isn’t a 5 year extension. It’s a 3 year extension with a player option. Love can (and I think will) opt out after 3 years. It’s the worst kept secet in sports that Kevin Love loves Los Angeles. There just happens to be a team in purple in gold in Los Angeles that just happens to have a ton of cap space available in 3 years to make a run at him. Love was basically offended the Wolves didn’t give him the 5 year extension, and instead are saving that for Rubio. If the Wolves aren’t a serious contender within 2 years, the Wolves better start taking trade offers for Love, so they don’t get hosed like the Magic did for Howard.

  14. fordmandalay - Oct 14, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Journalism rule #1 – give the FULL NAME of the subject of the story. Only referring to him as ‘Williams’ in the entire article does NOT help readers who aren’t familiar with WTF you’re talking about.

  15. packhawk04 - Oct 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    My guess is if he didnt want to be there, he wouldnt have signed an extension, especially if he wasnt getting what he wanted. Just me though. Im not a good shrink like others on here. I cant explain the whole “l love la, i want to be there, i wont stay in minnesota, but ill take a lesser deal than what i want to stay there” mindset.

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