Excerpt No. 1:
Williams' versatility shines through in the rest of his game, as he did an excellent job scoring in post-up situations (1.06 PPP), pick and roll finishes (1.37 PPP), and cuts (1.26). Some of the credit for this should go to Arizona's coaching staff, which obviously knew precisely how to exploit Williams' strengths and did a great job putting him in position to succeed.
Excerpt No. 2:
Williams appears to do a great job trusting Arizona's offense and waiting for good opportunities to come to him rather than hunting shots -- something that his NBA coach will surely appreciate. Williams amazingly enough only took 5 pull-up jumpers all season, representing just 1% of his total offense.
This can be viewed as either a positive or a negative. On one hand he refused to settle for these low-percentage opportunities (which with the shorter 3-point line, are truly bad shots in the collegiate game). On the other hand, this may be a part of his game that he'll need to work on, particularly if he's expected to create offense from the perimeter in the NBA as heavily as he did in college.
This is Derrick Williams in a nutshell: He is not slashing to the basket and cannot hit open jump shots or create offense off the dribble. As a result, people are calling him a bust. "Derrick Williams has driven me bat-poop crazy," wrote Patrick Reusse on ESPN1500.com. "So much so, that I'm now ready to declare Williams to be Minnesota's greatest draft flop in the four major professional sports."
Reusse wrote this column after seeing Williams gently go to the basket for a layup in an attempt to draw a foul against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday -- which he was granted -- rather than go to the rim with authority. It was a far cry from the Williams who dropped 32 points on Duke in the NCAA tournament, the one that hit three-pointers gracefully, carved through defenders with ease, and threw down powerful put-back dunks.
"He went soft, looking for the foul rather than a forceful finish. He got the call and accepted a couple of hand slaps as he walked toward the line," wrote Reusse, describing the play.
"I would have preferred that someone such as the feisty J.J. Barea step in front of Williams, look up at him angrily and go into a profane tirade about Williams failing to finish for roughly the 300th time early in the third season of his pathetic NBA career."
Is Williams' play maddening? Of course it is. Here is a guy that is 6 foot 8 inches, a 240-pound man, athletic as they come, going to the basket with the delicacy of a church mouse eating a cracker. It's tough to watch.
But to call him the worst Minnesota draft bust since Troy Williamson? That's absurd.
At worst, he's a fish out of water. Jalen Rose, a 6-8 former NBA player, said as much on the Timberwolves' season preview he did with Bill Simmons.
Williams is an extremely athletic 3 or 4 that probably belongs on a small-ball team that can play him at power forward. That isn't going to happen in Minnesota. The Wolves have the best 4 in the game, Kevin Love, and a bear of a man in Nikola Pekovic.
This team is big. I'm talking a week on State Fair food big. And Williams, relative to the starters in the frontcourt, is rather small.
What Minnesota needs to do is use him as the sixth man, substituting him in for Corey Brewer at opportune times to change the pace. Rick Adelman needs to look him in the eyes and say, "Be aggressive! Slash to the basket! Shoot when you're open!"
Williams needs to take this opportunity to show the league that he's an NBA-caliber player. If he struggles, we have to know that he simply does not play well with the personnel, not that he's the next [takes a deep breath] Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, Dark o Milicic, or Michael Beasley. Basically, he needs to show that he's capable of playing NBA basketball.
The best thing that can happen is that Williams finds a spot for himself as the sixth man off the bench, provides much-needed secondary scoring, and keeps old men from cursing profusely in front of small children while observing the game.
The most likely scenario is that Williams still struggles to produce at the level that the Wolves expect him to, given that he was the No. 2 overall pick, and he is dealt to a team where he is a better fit.
This stuff happens, sports fans. When you draft at No. 2, you take the best player available. At the time, it appeared that Williams was that guy. He may never live up to the billing of "The Guy Drafted After Kyrie Irving," but he is not as bad as Troy Williamson.
The latter is a Minnesota Vikings wide receiver that couldn't catch a football and challenged his former head coach to a fight in the middle of a football field. The former is a basketball player placed in the wrong system that needs to add a little grit to his game.
Tom Schreier writes about the Twins, Wild, and Wolves on Yahoo Contributor Network. He previously covered Minnesota sports for Bleacher Report and can be heard on 105 The Ticket. Follow him on Twitter @tschreier3.
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