Derrick Williams will start with Kevin Love injured. At small forward

It’s not a surprise that Derrick Williams will be starting. We totally saw that coming, as soon as Kevin Love’s knuckles proved to be less sturdy than he thought. What IS surprising is that he won’t be starting in place of Kevin Love. Rather, he will be starting in place of Andrei Kirilenko, who will take Love’s place at power forward.

So while the lineup questions have been answered, other questions can still be reasonably asked. Questions such as “What does Rick Adelman know about Derrick Williams that we don’t?” for example.

From SBNation Minnesota:

Coach Rick Adelman will start Williams in Minnesota’s next exhibition game on Wednesday, when the Timberwolves take on the Detroit Pistons in Winnipeg.

Williams will play small forward while Love is out, with Andrei Kirilenko shifting to power forward. Adelman hopes that this will help Williams’ transition into the starting lineup.

Listen, we’ve run the numbers, we saw Williams’ performance last year, and most reasonable people have concluded that Derrick Williams should be playing power forward, as opposed to small forward. His lack of a consistent jumpshot and his turnover-prone play led most people to believe that playing on the wing isn’t where Williams is strongest, and, as Derek pointed out, the Wolves have at long last left the purgatory of “player development” and entered win-now mode, with Kevin Love’s player option hanging over their heads.  So developing Williams into a 3 probably won’t work either. That means that either he won’t play small forward for Minnesota or he’s ready to do it right now. From what we’ve seen, it’s the former.

But here’s the problem: Even after running the Synergy numbers and examining the tape, even after perusing,, and NBA StatsCube and even after talking with fellow Wolves fans and analyzing Williams’ potential until we are hoarse, Rick Adelman is smarter than us. And he knows Williams better than we do. So presumably, he has a reason for playing Williams at small forward and sliding Kirilenko to the four, even though Kirilenko has, most recently, played small forward and Williams has, most successfully, played power forward.

It should also be noted that Kirilenko isn’t a concern at the four. In fact, it might suit him well, given his age and his somewhat declining athleticism. He has the size and the basketball abilities to play power forward successfully, so Williams is our main concern.

The other interesting tidbit from that article is that Adelman sees Williams eventually becoming a starter when Love returns. This would, of course, mean Kirilenko’s banishment to the second unit. When Kirilenko and Chase Budinger came aboard this offseason, most of us thought it spelled the end of the Derrick Williams era in Minnesota, but apparently, this was far from the truth.

If Adelman didn’t think Williams could play, he would be glued to the bench. Adelman showed us that he had no problem benching players who were somewhat of a fixture in Minnesota last year when he stopped playing Darko and Michael Beasley. So any concerns about Kahn putting pressure on Adelman to play his draft pick would be unwarranted.

I was one of Michael Beasley’s defenders in Minnesota, mainly because I just genuinely liked the guy. He amused me. But after he left, I found myself growing accustomed to the idea of playing efficient offensive players at small forward instead of Beas. It sounded like a nice change. Adelman MUST know something about Williams. He must be pretty sure that Williams can be efficient at the small forward. Right? Somebody tell me I’m right. Please.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

Sort: Newest | Oldest