Derrick Williams has the most NBA potential of anyone in college basketball. Now that his NCAA Tournament run with the Arizona Wildcats is over, he can place his focus on what should be a very long and successful professional basketball career.
The question is, where will he go?
Fourteen teams will hold their breath and pray for the ball to drop in their favor at the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery. Landing Derrick Williams is like landing John Wall or Blake Griffin, his presence alone will fill the stands and eventually, he will put his team in the playoff conversation.
First of all, Derrick Williams is 6'8'' and weighs 240 pounds. This was LeBron James's weight when he came into the league and is right around the same size of Carmelo Anthony.
When wondering if college stars can take their success to the NBA, the biggest question is their size. With Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette, there are rightful concerns about them being too small. Teams already know, from previous star examples, that a 6'8'' small forward translates perfectly well into the NBA.
Second of all, his three-point shooting ability. On the season, Williams shot an impressive 57 percent from long range. Compare this to Kevin Durant's freshman year at Texas and you'll see that Williams shot the ball nearly 17 percent better from behind the arc than the Longhorns star.
Lastly, Williams is very skilled around the basket and is not afraid to post up his defender. He can finish with either hand and had some of the best dunks the NCAA Tournament has ever seen.
Package all this together, and you can see that Williams has the size of LeBron James, post up abilities of a Carmelo Anthony, better three- point shooting ability than Kevin Durant and is able to throw down like Blake Griffin. This type of player can transform a franchise.
The lottery rarely works out the way the odds intend it to. For the sake of this slideshow, here's the order, as of today, if records truly determined the placement.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
3. Washington Wizards
4. Sacramento Kings
5. Toronto Raptors
6. Cleveland Cavaliers (Los Angeles Clippers traded their 2011 First Round Pick in the Baron Davis Trade)
7. Utah Jazz (New Jersey Nets traded their 2011 First Round Pick in the Deron Williams trade)
8. Golden State Warriors
9. Detroit Pistons
10. Utah Jazz
11. Milwaukee Bucks
12. Phoenix Suns
13. Charlotte Bobcats
14. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are quietly making a late playoff push. They have won five gives in a row and seven of their last 10. This is the type of team who has no business landing the No. 1 pick in the draft. However, because of the percentage based system, the Rockets could technically win the lottery.
Derrick Williams would put the Houston Rockets into the playoffs.
With Kyle Lowry running the point, Kevin Martin and Derrick Williams on the wings and Luis Scola down low, the Rockets would have the No. 6 or No. 7 seed in their hands.
Here is the problem with the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Charlotte Bobcats are only one game behind the Indiana Pacers for the No. 8 seed, but yet they do not have a single player in their starting five who would start for the Pacers.
If the Bobcats somehow land Derrick Williams, they can fill in the gap left after Gerald Wallace, and finally part ways with Stephen Jackson. With a young core of D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson and Derrick Williams, Michael Jordan would only have to find some quality big men to solidify his Bobcats as a playoff team.
Arizona would love to keep their Wildcats star in the same state.
With Derrick Williams running alongside Steve Nash, the Suns could transition perfectly from Grant Hill to a younger, higher scoring, small forward.
The pairing of Brandon Jennings with Derrick Williams would be one of the great young tandems in the league.
They do already have Carlos Delfino and Corey Maggette at the small forward position, but when you can land a guy like Williams, the answer is to keep one of your guys for depth and trade the other away.
Derrick Williams could bring some instant sanity to a Detroit Pistons roster that is a complete mess.
Joe Dumars had an incredible playing career and deserved credit for building the 2004 championship team, but he has not made a smart move in years.
One of these poor decisions was not trading Tayshaun Prince at the deadline this year. Unless Prince has deep sentimental ties to Detroit, I can almost guarantee he will sign with a contender this summer. Dumars could have gotten something for his small forward, but for reasons I will never understand, he is willing to risk losing Prince for nothing.
Derrick Williams could speed up Detroit's roster decisions. With Williams, they would have a legitimate star to build around, and could focus the remaking of their roster to compliment his game.
I think this would be a very interesting fit for the Warriors.
With Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, the Warriors play two small, but effective guards. If they added Derrick Williams, I would suggest they run a type of hybrid line-up that has Dorell Wright and Williams on the floor at the same time with David Lee playing center. Their athleticism would be a nightmare for nearly every team in the league.
Here's how a team like the Los Angeles Lakers would match up against the Warriors:
Derek Fisher guarding a much faster Stephen Curry.
Kobe Bryant guarding a smaller, quicker, Monta Ellis
Ron Artest guarding a bigger Dorell Wright
Pau Gasol having a match up nightmare against Derrick Williams
Andrew Bynum boxing out the pesky David Lee
I'm not saying the Warriors would become better than the Lakers, but on the second game of a back-to-back, the Lakers would never be able to keep up with this much speed and athleticism.
The Utah Jazz are the type of team that may be rewarded by the basketball Gods and grab the improbable No. 1 pick. After the Deron Williams fiasco, the Brandon Davies inspired jokes on Mormons and the fact that Jerry Sloan never won a title, the Jazz deserve a little bit of good luck.
If this happens, Derrick Williams would make this starting five very interesting.
The positive for the Jazz, is they have their big man situation determined. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are a formidable duo and can bang with any set of bigs in the league. Devin Harris is a solid point guard and C.J. Miles is improving. Derrick Williams would give this team a much needed go to guy on the perimeter that they haven't had in years. With Williams, the Jazz would have offensive strength at every position.
I don't want to lose Derrick Williams to Toronto.
This would be a tremendous fit on many levels.
If the Kings end up moving to Anaheim, what better player to grab than the La Marida native, Derrick Williams? Look at Derrick Rose in Chicago as a prime example of how a fan base rallies behind one of their own.
I can see the NBA commercial now with some little kid talking to a 16-year-old version of Williams with the end quote, "They're gonna love you in Anaheim."
Also, the Kings are building their team well under the current salary cap. Even under a reduced one that will most likely happen for next year's season, the Kings are in perfect shape.
DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans are both still under their rookie contracts and they have plenty of money to re-sign Marcus Thornton (they are not going to be able to get away with paying their leading scorer $762,000 again next season).
Williams would be an exciting, in-state addition to a young Kings team.
The Washington Wizards will have a high percentage chance of landing Derrick Williams.
This would make for a really exciting, young and long line-up.
At point guard, they would have the 6'4'' John Wall. At shooting guard, 6'7'' Nick Young. Derrick Williams would give them a 6'8'' small forward and down low they have two seven-footers in Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee.
One thing that almost guarantees success in the NBA is length. The Wizards would have plenty of it with this starting five.
This would be an interesting situation for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
On one end, it would be crazy to pass up on a talent like Derrick Williams. However, they already have a small forward in the 22-year-old Michael Beasley who is giving them around 15 ppg.
For me, the decision is simple, always draft the best player available. Too much talent on a roster is never a problem. If Michael Beasley can not effectively shift down to the power forward position, then find a trade for him and address the gaping hole at the point guard position.
Unless you are the Miami Heat or Oklahoma City Thunder, you have to draft Derrick Williams regardless of who you already have as a small forward.
The Cleveland Cavaliers need Derrick Williams.
After LeBron James uttered the words, "I'm taking my talents to South Beach," a gaping hole was created at the small forward position that may never fully be filled.
Derrick Williams could at least slow the bleeding.
I do not see Williams becoming as dominant of a player as LeBron James, but I do think he is destined for 25 ppg seasons. Cleveland will have two draft picks that could both fall in the top five, but neither will matter if they cannot land Williams.
Look at it this way, with the exception of Dan Gilbert, everyone in Cleveland knows they are in a rebuilding process. Moving forward, they should keep Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson and Semih Erden. Besides those three, everyone else is expendable. If they can add a future All-Star like Derrick Williams and maybe land Kyrie Irving with their other top pick, the Cavaliers will have taken two massive steps in their rebuilding process.
The Cavaliers need the lottery to go their way and they have the highest percentage chance of landing the No. 1 pick. Having said that, expect a team like the Utah Jazz to sneak in leaving Cleveland with no other choice than to waste their draft pick on Jan Vesely of the Czech Republic.