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Timberwolves pick up option on Derrick Williams, now just have to find fit

Oct 22, 2013, 3:02 PM EST

Derrick Williams AP

Derrick Williams is going to stay with the Timberwolves — the team is picking up his option for this season as expected, reports the Associated Press.

On the very surface this seems a simple and smart move — he started 56 games for the Wolves last season, averaging 12 points and 5.5 rebounds a game in just his second NBA season.

But dig just a little below the surface and a forest of questions shoot up about the former No. 2 overall pick and where he fits in with Minnesota.

Williams started all those games last season because Kevin Love was out (broken hand, twice) and when he played the four he played reasonably well — he had a PER of 14.5 at that spot, according to 82games.com. Not thrilling for a guy with high expectations, but not terrible.

Except, this season Love is back and taking up most of the minutes at the four spot. And for stretches of last season coach Rick Adelman preferred Dante Cunningham to back up Love over Williams.

With Chase Budinger out for an extended time at the three, maybe Williams can fight for minutes at that spot with Corey Brewer and Shabazz Muhammad. Except Williams has struggled at that position, last season he had a “send me to the D-League” level PER of 9.2 when playing the three.

Williams needs to become a more efficient scorer (he shot 43 percent overall last season and a pedestrian 33.2 percent from three) and play more consistent defense to earn more minutes. And to earn a decent next contract because Minnesota is likely going to let him test the free agent market.

  1. observingii - Oct 22, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    No wonder the Wolves never make the playoffs.

  2. jamesk2465 - Oct 22, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Perfect example of a player getting drafted by the wrong team.

  3. casualcommenter - Oct 22, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    First, Williams is still an unknown, having only recently finished his second season in the NBA after spending most of his career playing limited minutes.

    That being said, I think his ideal role is small-ball power forward. He’s not a good enough shooter from distance nor ball-handler to space the floor or take on wings from the perimeter. However, he’s a pretty good rebounder for a 6’8″ guy and poses a matchup problem against traditional power forwards.

    The problem is the Wolves didn’t sign Pekovic to a hefty deal so they could play a lot of small-ball. Instead, they did it so they could have a very BIG Love-Pekovic front-court that could/should be dominant at rebounding. That means for Williams to play small-ball 4, he’d have to come off the bench and play the 4 whenever Love is off the floor (which won’t be much) and whenever Love is playing at the 5 (which also won’t be much time).

    So either Williams accepts a bench role with the Wolves, or gets traded to a team with a hole at PF, or improves his shooting to make himself a viable wing player.

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