This is apparently where we’re at now, in the modern NBA. The obsession with future first round picks has made it so the Minnesota Timberwolves can trade a way a capable (if not boffo) former second overall pick – still working on his rookie contract, no less – and not receive a future first round pick in exchange. In the first mid-season deal of the Flip Saunders era in Minnesota, the Wolves have sent 2011 draftee Derrick Williams to the Sacramento Kings for tweener forward Luc Mbah a Moute. This is an underwhelming transaction.
On paper, Derrick and Luc seem to be act as the offensive-minded and defensive-minded versions of themselves. Williams is a sound enough rebounder, an effortless mover within an offense that still seems to break plays and miss plenty of shots that look really, really good following his windup. Mbah a Moute’s offensive arsenal is weak and he’s only a capable rebounder, but he moves his feet expertly and ties up opponent after opponent at either forward position. You don’t want either starting for you, but despite their seeming perfect destiny as a first forward off the bench neither has thrived coming off the pine.
The Kings need scoring, though, especially with recent signee Carl Landry on the shelf due to a hip flexor. Williams is a less efficient version of Landry, but one that has room to work his way up to Landry’s status. Not exactly what you’d want from a second overall pick, two and a half years removed; but also understand that former Wolves general manager David Kahn selected Williams second overall.
With Kevin Love already at power forward. Because David Kahn was TERRIBLE at this.
It’s that potential and former second overall status, though, that has us wondering if Saunders and ostensible Wolves GM Milt Newton couldn’t get more for Williams. Yes, Derrick was on the trade block from the absolute instant he was chosen in the 2011 draft, and Minnesota coach Rick Adelman did little to help his trade value by burying him (save for during Love’s absence last year, when Williams contributed double-figure scoring) and complaining about his mitigating factors throughout Williams’ time with the team. His league-wide value was low, especially with that $6.3 million price tag due for 2014-15; but couldn’t Saunders have picked up more?
That’s not to denigrate Mbah a Moute, who can contribute if healthy and fits in at either forward position in reserve of Love and the resurgent Robbie Hummel, but this is a surprising haul for Minnesota. The Kings won’t be put over the top with Williams scoring in the starting lineup or off the bench, but he is a contributor with potential. The sort of shoot-first forward (which is not a bad thing!) that will probably play for six or seven teams in his career – hopefully more of a Carl Landry than a Charlie Villanueva.
A fine deal for both sides, we reckon. It’s just worth wondering if it couldn’t have been a finer deal for Minnesota’s side.
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