The Timberwolves have been one of the NBA's early-season delights. Without Ricky Rubio, without Kevin Love and most recently, without Nikola Pekovic, they have managed to be one of basketball's better teams.
When Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio return, the future appears bright. A lot of the optimism can be attributed to how Minnesota has found the ideal 3/4 combo forward, an athletic player who can guard positions two-through-four and who impacts the game on both ends of the floor.
Minnesota's issue is that the 3/4 combo forward I'm describing is Andrei Kirilenko and most definitely not Derrick Williams. AK-47 has been a revelation and possible promise of what's to come in a non-Sloan future. He was Europe's best basketball player last season, and time spent in Minnesota's "Euro-style" system (i.e.they employ a lot of Europeans) might vault his game to new heights.
Also, the Wolves desperately need Kirilenko. This is a team comprised of guys with short wingspans and shorter defensive reputations. Andrei Kirilenko is the only prominent Wolf (Wolve?) who can capably provide defense. He will get his minutes, meaning that Derrick Williams won't—especially when Kevin Love comes back.
So the Timberwolves won't be the ideal showcase for Williams' talents, and Williams hasn't done himself many favors by playing poorly thus far in his young career. Last season, it appeared as though Derrick might have been miscast as a small forward. Much of his success came at the four spot in college, and he lacked the ball skills befitting of a proper perimeter player.
Except, according to 82Games, the difference in D-Will's production from small forward to power forward was negligible. This season, according to 82Games, Williams hasn't even played the small forward spot that he's supposedly ill suited for. The problem is that he's simply not been very good.
Derrick Williams is shooting .324 so far this season, and while that number should climb, it's starting to look increasingly like it's not going to work out in Minnesota. The Wolves are stacked at the position that their 2011 No. 2 pick can conceivably play, so even if Williams improved, there wouldn't be much room to grow.
It would stand to reason that Minnesota should trade its once-promising draft pick. At least for now, it can peddle the misnomer that his problem has been one of miscasting. Williams still possesses the ability to shoot and make plays above the rim, even if he hasn't demonstrated the former at the pro level.
Some other team might take a chance on Derrick Williams. Minnesota should probably find that franchise because the Wolves appear disinclined to keep taking chances on D-Will's potential.
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