Mock Draft: Derrick Williams, No. 2
Minnesota adds another piece to its puzzle.
by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack
I wanted to pick Kemba Walker for this spot when I was originally handed the assignment. I thought the former UConn star would give the Timberwolves two qualities which they sorely need – backcourt scoring punch and toughness.
But then I listened to a recent Bill Simmons podcast and a realization which had previously occurred to me became more apparent: ‘Wolves general manager David Kahn enjoys accumulating assets. Aside from Kyrie Irving, there is no player in the upcoming NBA Draft who can be considered more of an asset than the man who I’m picking to go to Minnesota.
Derrick Williams from the University of Arizona.
Williams is an imperfect fit for the T’Wolves on paper, but a perfectly logical choice considering how Kahn is “building” his team. As Simmons and guest Chad Ford noted on the podcast, Kahn is assembling assets with what hopefully, for Timberwolves fans, is a master plan toward reviving the franchise. You might think that drafting Williams, who will struggle to define himself as a 3 or a 4 in the League, makes little sense given the improvement seen last year from forwards Michael Beasley and Kevin Love. Yet it would be another development in a pattern of seemingly strange moves from Kahn.
Did it make sense to draft two point guards in 2009 – Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio – with sharpshooter Stephen Curry on the board? Was it logical to pay Darko Milicic and Nikola Pekovic a combined $33 million as free-agent signings last year? (I admittedly supported the Darko signing.) Could you reason the logic in handing point guard Luke Ridnour a four-year, $16 million deal last summer to challenge Flynn, whom Kahn had emphatically claimed on Draft Day ’09 would become an elite NBA defender, and perhaps to even challenge Rubio, whom Kahn has confidently stated in the past would be on the Minnesota roster by this upcoming season. Uh, no.
So, it doesn’t make much sense to draft Williams other than to make a subsequent move, whether it’s dealing Williams or another player. Kahn and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor have admitted during last weekend – Kahn at the NBA Combine and Taylor in a Minneapolis Star-Tribune story – that they’re open to trading.
Williams is quite a find himself. He put up 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season for the Wildcats, improving on his averages of 15.7 and 7.1, respectively, during his freshman season. The 19-year-old, who turns 20 on May 25, showed poise by averaging 22.8 points and 9.3 rebounds while leading the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in March’s NCAA Tournament. He’s an effective scorer, is athletic and strong enough to create shots for himself at the NBA level and he plays the game with an understanding that’s not seen often from teenagers.
He could be an interesting fit with Love and Rubio, should the Spaniard finally make his way to America. Perhaps Williams could also become the primary chip in a trade that brings a veteran star to Minneapolis. He couldn’t replace Beasley, not after the season he had. To bench Beasley for Williams would mean alienating Beasley and possibly lose all the progress he made in becoming a key scorer for the ‘Wolves. Yet Williams could eventually be the better pro, as his strength, shooting range to 20-22 feet and more focused on-court demeanor could translate into him becoming a vital second- or third-scorer for a Playoff contender.
Williams obviously has to find a position in the NBA. That will be determined largely by the team for which he plays, and there is no guarantee the Timberwolves will be that squad. Yet they will likely do the right thing by drafting him so as to at least control his future for their benefit. Given how the Timberwolves have built their roster, that’s the logical thing to do.
|2011 SLAMonline Mock Draft|