Minnesota Timberwolves draftee Derrick Williams had high hopes coming into the pros. His game at Arizona was tremendous and it seemed he had the confidence to carry that over into the NBA. D-Will averaged over 19 points and 8 rebounds in his sophomore and final year of college. The box next to “NBA ready” had a nice big check mark.
The story hasn’t gone as expected thus far. While we couldn’t assume Williams would be an immediate All-Star, we could anticipate him being at least a very solid role player in his first couple seasons. Williams wasn’t terrible his rookie year. In fact, I’d say he was a talented rookie just trying to fit into the league. He averaged 12 points and 5.5 rebounds in limited playing time in his second year with the Wolves.
T-Wolves’ Coach Rick Adelman would continue to play him around 24 minutes per game approaching the 2013-14 season. It was clear Adelman was not his biggest fan. There may be other reasons we couldn’t guess of. However, one frustration may have been related to the term “tweener.” If you’re a tweener, you’re somewhere stuck in between being a small forward and power forward.
While Williams was mainly a big at Arizona, his transition to playing small forward wasn’t too difficult to imagine. The top-notch athlete had skills coming out of college: he could dribble, he could penetrate, and he could consistently hit a spot-up three. He was also a very gifted athlete, which allowed him to make difficult plays on offense and defense.
Well anyways, the Wolves franchise eventually decided to part ways with D-Will as things weren’t working out as expected. However, that trade doesn’t quite have the tone of, “this guy is a definite bust.” That’s not true at all. Williams still has the potential to be a very good player in this league. It just takes some guys longer to adapt to playing at a new level.
The Sacramento Kings were one of the active teams shopping players this season. Williams landed there in a swap for defensive specialist L.R. Mbah A Moute. Minnesota probably should have tried to get more value for the 22-year-old forward. Let’s put that aside and talk about Williams’ possible future with the Kings.
D-Will came in as a backup to Rudy Gay, who was also recently acquired by the organization. Gay has been playing phenomenal since being traded to the Kings. Williams has played 26 minutes per game in a backup role. He averages 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds on over 45 percent shooting. However, stats aren’t the indication of progress like people think they are.
Sacramento could prove to be a much better system for an athletic Williams. The Kings thrive off their full court offense and Williams could definitely be a key contributor in the next couple years. Rudy Gay is more of the team’s veteran or “win now” player. Except the Kings aren’t winning now. That’s why it’s important for Coach Mike Malone to aid Williams’ progress behind the scenes. Soon enough, we should begin to see flashes of the D-Will from Arizona.