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I spent my Sunday morning on Twitter once again discussing a Derrick Williams trade. Even though many people have had this same conversation many times, it seems that people really have a hard time grasping certain aspects of the idea of trading Williams. I’m not really here to debate the merits of trading Williams because not only have I already done that (last week), but others have and done a better job.
Still, I’m here today using the words “Derrick”, “Williams”, and “trade” in the same sentence.
One thing people seem to believe when discussing a trade is that trading Williams is synonymous with giving up on him, but it’s not. Look at the Timberwolves’ roster and you’ll notice that the Wolves’ best player (Kevin Love, in case you were confused) plays the PF position, and the Wolves biggest needs are at the small forward and shooting guard positions. Unfortunately, Williams also is best suited to play the power forward. This is called an “imbalance”. If you can move Williams in a way that returns a player to correct this roster imbalance, wouldn’t you do that to improve the team?
(Do I want to talk about Williams playing the small forward?)
(It might not be on topic, but it may prove my point…)
(Screw it, I’m going for it.)
While Williams has the size to play the position, he didn’t exhibit the necessary shooting range or defense to play the position. This is another area where people misunderstood me when I made this point, and assumed that I was burying Williams after some 60 games in the NBA. That’s idiotic, and I wouldn’t do that with any player.
But here were his shooting percentages from various locations on the floor according to HoopData.com: At the Rim- 63.3%; 3-9ft- 20.8%; 10-15ft- 28.6%; 16-23 ft- 29%; 3’s- 26.8%. Does this sound like a perimeter player? The only place he shot above 30% was within 3 feet of the rim? Hmm…what position could you afford to have that happen with? Oh yeah, a power forward or a center!
Can he get better? Absolutely. In fact, I don’t think he’s that bad of a pro shooter, yet neither do I think he’s as good of a shooter as he was in Arizona. He’s probably somewhere in the middle, and expectations should be adjusted accordingly.
Williams is apparently losing weight in an effort to move to the 3, but it seems to make more sense for him to get stronger and work on some post moves in an effort to become a better 4. Hopefully this doesn’t take away from his ability to play his best position or we’re in for another regression season from another Timberwolves second year player.
The second issue is that people talk about all of his potential. Now, I caught most games last season, but didn’t see “potential” play any games or even what number he wore. Ultimately, potential is a handful of magic beans that you hold on to because you don’t have anything substantial. Now, if you could trade those magic beans for something tangible, wouldn’t you?
This came up when someone mentioned him being traded for Nicolas Batum. The question was if Williams had a higher ceiling than Batum or who would be the better pro. Right now, it’s Batum. Whose ceiling is higher? Probably Williams’ because he’s taller. Oh, not that ceiling. Well then, Batum is only 23 years old, or the same age as Kevin Love. You can debate who will be better now, but all that I’ll say is that Batum is currently better and still has time to improve.
One more question for the “potential” crowd. Do you really think Williams will get the minutes he needs to develop with Kevin Love playing 38 minutes per game?
Few things in life are actually black and white, and sports are one of those. You have to think sometimes instead of making assumptions or sweeping generalizations about a situation. Trading Williams isn’t giving up on him; more like using surplus to meet a need. Does that last sentence make sense to you, because it makes sense to me.
Finally, it’s not reasonable to say that critiquing his rookie season is implying he’ll be the exact same player his entire career anymore than it is to expect a person to be the same all of their lives. There may be some people who read way too much in between the lines, but never once did I say he’d be the same player his entire career. And I will not shy from using the only sample we have from Williams, because it’s the only one we have.
Being open to trading Williams doesn’t mean that someone “hates” Derrick, either. He’s a good player, but there is much room for improvement, especially for a former #2 overall pick. Williams will likely improve, or he may not, but he’s very capable of developing.
Just keep these things in mind next time the discussion comes up.