After a disappointingly inconsistent rookie campaign to start the career for Derrick Williams, it’s only natural that both the team and fans alike are annoyed that the No. 2 pick of the 2011 NBA draft has yet to get his act together.
It bears asking: Is D-Will even worth keeping around for the Minnesota Timberwolves?
He’s still at the point in his career that it’s still too early to deem him a “bust.” His 8.8 points per game (PPG) this season aren’t great, but they aren’t so bad that he needs to be condemned as a lost cause either.
Actually, Williams wouldn’t really be that terrible—if terrible at all— if it weren’t for the expectations that he came into the league with.
His flaws include his work ethic, his consistency, his defense and his decision-making. While bad, none of those flaws are unchangeable. He’s the type of player that can really only get better—simply because he can’t get worse.
His role in Minnesota is actually relatively straightforward. Any player that plays backup to Kevin Love has the very clear-cut task of just not messing up Love’s hard work when Love needs a breather. It’s a simple job.
Had David Kahn gotten away with turning Williams into a small forward, D-Will still would have been coming off the bench to collect scrap minutes behind Andrei Kirilenko—still not a ton of ways to disappoint.
The Minnesota Timberwolves came in with a newly revamped roster and a seemingly endless supply of forwards to start off the season, Williams could have very easily just flown under the radar. Then the injuries piled on fast and hard for the Wolves early in the season, making the margin for error very, very small for D-Will.
Just from the forward positions, the Wolves lost Kevin Love and Chase Budinger. Those are two huge blows, since Kevin Love is the best power forward in the league and Budinger was averaging an impressive 11 (PPG) off the bench.
With the sprained ankle of Nikola Pekovic, the depth at the forward position is depleted. Lou Amundson was moved to the center spot, Dante Cunningham has been appointed the job of starting power forward, and Derrick Williams is now resigned to a fate of being the floater behind Kirilenko and Cunningham.
When Kevin Love went down due to the “knuckle pushup” mishap, it was Derrick Williams' opportunity to shine…er—actually, it was just his opportunity to prove that he wasn’t just the most recent draft bust for the Wolves.
Needless to say, he did not shine brightly. Averaging 8.8 PPG and 5.5 rebounds per game (RPG) in 22.3 minutes per game aren’t indicative of a future All-Star—they’re indicative of a role player.
Being a role player is very far from being the All-Star that we all wanted him to be, but it means that he's not necessarily a bust.
The Timberwolves should keep D-Will around, especially after Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Brandon Roy, J.J Barea and Chase Budinger all come back from their various injuries and the pieces fall back into place.
D-Will may never be a LeBron James for the Wolves, but for now his role will be as the explosive floater behind Love and Kirilenko along with Dante Cunningham and newly signed Josh Howard.
He could have an effective place with the Wolves as the energy boost coming off the bench. If he figures out how to fix his consistency problems, we could be looking at a big-time weapon.
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