RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Derrick WilliamsPosted by rtmsf on June 18th, 2011
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Derrick Williams
Height/Weight: 6’8, 248 lbs.
NBA Position: Small/Power Forward
Projected Draft Range: High Lottery
Overview: Two years ago, Derrick Williams signed on with Sean Miller and Arizona after having been released from his letter of intent with USC following the firing of Tim Floyd. Williams was, at that time, the #72-rated incoming recruit (according to ESPNU) and there were few expectations for immediate production. However, Williams made a splash early and often in Tucson, winning the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year award while averaging 15 points and seven rebounds in a highly efficient manner. He stepped up his game big time in his second season, averaging 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds while adding an absurdly accurate three-point shot (he made 42 of his 74 attempts for a whopping 56.8% from deep) and turning into the Wildcats’ unquestioned go-to guy. His play in the NCAA Tournament may have even been a bit better, as he almost single-handedly kept Arizona in the game against Duke, scoring 25 of his 32 points in the first half and making sure his name was known far and wide on the national stage. Williams mostly played the four at Arizona, but his quick first-step, explosive leaping ability and deadly accuracy from deep qualify him as a potential NBA three. But his measurements at the NBA combine (a 7’1 wingspan and a 9’0 standing reach) paired with his powerful body confirm that he can also hang physically with power forwards at the next level. And, his ability to step away from the basket and provide offense away from the grind of the lane make him a highly desirable asset. While it remains expected that Kyrie Irving will be the top pick in the draft, Williams looks like a lock to be the second pick, although it remains to be seen whether Minnesota will hold onto that pick or if another team, possibly Cleveland dangling it’s #4 pick as trade bait, moves up to claim him.
Will Translate to the NBA: Williams’ offensive game is pretty well polished. Aside from the magical appearance of a deadly three-point shot that wasn’t even hinted at in his first season, Williams has a killer first step, solid handles and major finishing ability at the rim. He’s displayed solid post moves, he’s terrific at drawing fouls and getting to the line, and he’s also shown a great nose for the ball and an ability to score off broken plays or putbacks. Throw in the fact that his basketball IQ is off the charts (he rarely forces a bad shot, but remains aggressive enough to make the most of his skills) and Williams can score in the NBA from his first minutes.
Needs Work: Williams’ biggest negative remains his size. While his combine measurements are better than legit NBA power forwards like Kevin Love and Blake Griffin, the fact is that most scouts would like Williams a lot more with another inch or two on him. However, he’s probably done growing, so he’ll need to continue working on his strength and remain an aggressive ball hawk in order maintain his rebounding efficiency at the next level. And while Williams was a solid defensive player at Arizona, he could always use a little more work on that end.
Comparison Players: How about Antawn Jamison with a stronger and bulkier body and a better jumper? For his career, Jamison has averaged about 20 points and eight rebounds, has knocked down 34% of his threes and has made a couple of all-star appearances. Williams has the ability to be a better offensive player but, like Jamison, he could be a bit of a defensive liability as an undersized four.
Best Case Scenario: We find out real quick that Williams’ vastly improved perimeter jumper has no aberration, he proves his ability to guard the NBA three-spot and he hits the ground running and never looks back, averaging 20 points and eight rebounds from the start. He spends most of his time playing small forward, but gets ten minutes or so grinding away effectively at the big forward spot. And after taking down the rookie of the year, he’s well on his way to becoming a fixture at NBA All-Star games.
2014 Projection: Unfortunately for Williams, the fact that he’s so good means he’s likely going to a team in rebuilding mode. While he’ll make a team like Cleveland or Minnesota more fun to watch, and he’ll score and rebound prolifically, his potential deficiencies on the defensive could provide a roadblock to rapid improvement for whichever team picks him up. He may be posting 20/8 (or better) nightly, but its not out of the question that he’ll be doing so away from the spotlight of a playoff-caliber team.
Best NBA Fit: If Cleveland is able to pull the trigger and trade up to select Williams at #2, we could see the blossoming of the NBA’s next great pick-and-roll duo. Paired with Irving’s deadly penetrating ability, Williams could be on the receiving end of quite a few well-placed dimes, either rolling to the basket or popping out to knock down the jumper. And, it would just be a lot of fun to see this year’s two best NBA prospects lacing it up for the recently-jilted Cavaliers.
Scout’s Take (Chris Denker from Netscouts Basketball): “reminds me of David West… extremely efficient… very good athlete who “gets it”… great feet and super smart, a gym rat kind of guy… nobody gave him a chance, but he basically played center at Arizona and got it done.”