In 2011, the Minnesota Timberwolves made Derrick Williams the number two pick in the NBA Draft.
As is the nature of the business, Williams was not even able to escape his rookie season without persistent rumors of the Timberwolves actively shopping him.
At 6”8, Williams is a man without a true position. He is slightly undersized to play power forward and yet he is not quick enough to play small forward. This has left Minnesota perplexed.
The Boston Celtics have a similar situation with Jeff Green. However, Green’s ball-handling and shooting abilities allow him to play on the wing, while his post-up moves allow him to take advantage of smaller defenders down low.
Williams does not possess these same skills. But he is very athletic and maintains a strong work ethic. While the Wolves are yet to discover it, there is likely a place for the Arizona product in the NBA.
His jump shot must become more consistent, and he must further develop his post-up game. Williams also needs to learn the ins and outs of defense at the NBA level, but that will come with experience.
Given his skill set, it is clear that Williams is meant to be an undersized power forward. If he devotes his time and energy to the defensive end, he can truly make an impact on the game.
Williams’ quickness and athleticism may not serve as much of an advantage in the half-court game, but on an up-tempo team that likes to run the floor, the opportunity is there for him to flourish.
At the moment, the Lakers do not appear interested in trading Pau Gasol for Williams, an offer that the Timberwolves are denying they proposed. However, the undersized big would be an ideal fit in new coach Mike D’Antoni’s system.
Furthermore, being able to work with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant in the pick-and-roll game, would allow for Williams to have a greater offensive impact.
Williams would be a great fit on the New York Knicks. Here, he would pose a dynamic rebounding duo with Tyson Chandler, wreaking havoc on the glass and creating extra opportunities for a team that has been deadly from three-point range this season. Williams playing on the block would also create much better floor spacing than when Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are in the game together. However, Stoudemire’s contract is of no interest to Minnesota and a deal between these two teams is unrealistic.
The former number two pick would also be a nice fit in Golden State. Williams would provide the Warriors with an athletic big man, who could run the floor with Stephen Curry and the rest of the team’s athletes. Unfortunately, it is hard to see Golden State and Minnesota finding an agreement that is mutually beneficial.
Williams would also love playing for the Milwaukee Bucks. Pairing Williams with the explosive backcourt of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings would be extremely entertaining. Milwaukee’s fast break would be potent, and Williams would likely grow into being a very active rebounder. Once again, this is not a team who could appease the Timberwolves. Even if the Bucks were willing to trade Ersan Ilyasova to acquire Williams, it is not the type of move that Minnesota would confidently feel keeps Kevin Love in a Wolves uniform.
While there are good fits for Williams, it does not appear that many teams would be able to or be interested in working out a trade to acquire him. The Lakers may not only be one of Williams best fits, but may also be his best hope at not having to wait three more years until free agency to find a more appropriate home.