Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
Zach Lowe recently wrote a piece for Grantland titled: "The Most Known Unknowns" in which he highlighted six young NBA players all drafted in the Top 12 picks of the 2011 NBA Draft who are entering "make or break" seasons.
Atop that list is former #2 overall pick, Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams, who Lowe calls "the Great Unknown".
That's certainly been D-Will during his first two seasons in the NBA, with the Timberwolves. I've been adamant that he's certainly not my favorite player, but it's for one very simple (but probably complex) reason: he's wildly inconsistent. One night Derrick can give you 35 minutes and produce 25+ points a night, grab double digit rebounds and actually look pretty good defensively as a power forward. Other nights, Williams looks lost and tentative on the court as he shies away from contact around the rim and takes A LOT of questionable shots.
The inconsistency that plagues Williams is what drives me nuts and you know Adelman isn't happy with him most nights as he continually cringes at another well-contested, off-balance shot twenty feet from the rim with plenty of time left on the shot clock.
There's no questioning that Williams has the physical tools to be successful, but the big question remains: can he develop into the type of player he's capable of becoming in Minnesota, playing behind the NBA's best power forward (Love)?
The reason this is a make or break season for Williams is quite simple. Because of the new collective bargaining agreement, players entering the fourth year of their rookie-scale contracts receive a significant raise from their third year salary. D-Will will make roughly $5million this season and the Wolves hold a team option for 2014-15 that raises by roughly $1.3million to $6.3million. If the Wolves are getting the kind of production or lack thereof these past two seasons, this season; you can expect that team option to be declined. Perhaps Saunders will offer a less expensive, but appealing contract to keep him in Minnesota.
If Derrick Williams plays like a #2 pick should and has a breakout season there's no question that he'd be deserving of that dollar amount in 2014-15.
Best case scenario for Williams: He comes to camp lighter (he has reportedly shed some weight), he works tirelessly to become more of a small forward who can occasionally play some stretch four (not the other way around), he's a part of the starting lineup with Rubio, Martin, Love and Pek and is the third or fourth leading scorer (behind Love, Martin and maybe Peković). Williams' transition to small forward relies on a few keys: 1.) quicker foot speed--he's got to be able to defend quality small forwards on the perimeter; 2.) improved three-point touch--Williams was lights out in college and in the pros he's been an average three-point shooter, at best; 3.) Less selfish--when you're playing with all this offensive talent (Love, Martin, Pek, Budinger, etc) and in the best offensive system (Adelman's) in the NBA, you've got to learn how to pass the ball, there's no reason he can't average 1-2 assists per game (currently an average of 0.6apg for his career).
Derrick has had an offseason to work and in a couple weeks training camp will begin. We'll finally get our first look at Derrick in Minnesota's first preseason game on October 7th...I for one, can't wait--not just for Derrick, but Love, Rubio & Pek on the court together, Martin in a Wolves uni, Brewer back in a Wolves jersey and lastly to see how Shabazz and Gorgui will fit into the team this season. One more month...till the preseason...!!
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