FanPost

Can Derrick Williams Play Small Forward?


Derrick Williams is a very good basketball player.  Regardless of the fit questions with the current roster, I believe he was the right pick for the Timberwolves at #2.  Williams season at Arizona was very, very good.  He was offensively efficient, plays with a chip on his shoulder and carries some of the swagger that I think we need.

As with any prospect transitioning to the pros, there are some questions that Mr. Williams will need to answer.  There are also some specific questions out there regarding Williams working out well with the Timberwolves.  With guys like Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph already on the roster almost all of these questions revolve around a central question:  Can Derrick Williams play SF?

Does Williams have the attributes for the position?  Here's a table with the measurements and combine testing for a bunch of the prominent SFs currently in the NBA.  I threw in a few 3/4 tweeners like Beasley and Jeff Green as well as Joe Johnson who's more of a 2/3.

 


Height

Ht w/ shoes

Wt

Wingspan

Reach

Body Fat

No step Vert

Max Vert

Bench

Agility

Sprint

Derrick Williams

6_7.25

6_8.75

248

7_1.5

9_0

10.8

29

34.5

19

11.03

3.23

Michael Beasley

6_7

6_8.25

239

7_0.25

8_11

7.7

30

35

19

11.06

3.24

Danny Granger

6_7.5

6_8.5

225

7_1.5

8_7


31

34

10

10.84

3.34

Carmelo Anthony

6_6.25

6_7.5

233

7_0

8_9.5

8

30.5

33.5

7

11.4

3.15

Richard Jefferson

6_7.25

6_8.5

223

7_0

8_7


33

38.5

14

11.19

3.15

Caron Butler

6_5.25

6_6.5

222

6_11.5

8_7.5


27

31

2

12.15

3.33

Rudy Gay

6_7

6_8

222

7_3

8_11.20

5.7

33

40.5

9

11.03

3.32

Luol Deng

6_7

6_8

220

7_0.5

9_0.5


27.5

31.5

5

11.46

3.34

Trevor Ariza

6_7

6_8.25

201

7_2

8_11.5


29.5

32

8

11.63

3.29

Thaddeus Young

6_5.75

6_7.5

210

6_11.5

8_10

4.9

34.5

37

13

11.06

3.19

Jared Dudley

6_5.75

6_7.25

219

6_7

8_6

7.1

28

32

14

11.32

3.45

Shane Battier

6_8.25

6_9.5

229

6_10.5

8_9


29.5

33

12

10.95

3.3

Wesley Johnson

6_6.25

6_7.25

206

7_ 1

8_10

4.6

32

37

16

11.43

3.14

Al-Farouq Aminu

6_7.25

6_8.5

216

7_3.25

9_0.5

8.2

27

33.5

13

11.29

3.3

Marvin Williams

6_7

6_8.25

228

7_3.5

9_0


29.5

35

12

11.11

3.17

Joe Johnson

6_6.75

6_8.25

226

6_9

8_9


32.5

36.5

12

12.05

3.4

Jeff Green

6_7.75

6_9.5

228

7_1.25

8_7

3.7

33.5

38

17

12

3.34

LeBron James

6_7.25

6_8

245

7_0.25

8_10.25

6.7






 

How does Williams compare physically and athletically?  In terms of vertical leap, Williams is in the middle of the pack.  He's a rung below the super jumpers like Rudy Gay and Richard Jefferson, but he's right on par with guys like Beasley, Granger, and Carmelo Anthony.  Willams jumps higher than Caron Butler, Luol Deng, and Trevor Ariza.  In the agility testing, Williams fares very well coming in 3rd behind only Granger and Battier.  In the sprint, Williams just barely made the top third, but still fared well.  Williams is the strongest, tied with Beasley for most reps on the bench press.

Do these tests mean much of anything anyway?  After all, our own Kevin Love tested with near the same vertical leap as Dwight Howard.  The eye test tells anyone that they're not even close athletically...I think the eye test is the key.

http://www.canishoopus.com/2011/6/26/2245367/if-nothing-else-i-think-we-just-drafted-a-future-dunk-champion

The clip above in a fanshot by a fellow CanisHoopus member illustrates what Williams brings to the table athletically.  He's not an uber freak athlete, but he certainly passes the explosion test, which is the key.  Whereas a guy like Kevin Love tests well, but doesn't have that eye test explosion (I think Love is a superb functional athlete -which is another post), Williams seems to have both.  He is well into the upper half of SFs by the numbers athletically and also has that explosion that you can see on the court.

What about Derrick Williams weight?  I've been hung up on his weight for awhile.  If he's a SF, he's the heaviest SF that I can find in the DraftExpress database.  No way a guy can carry that weight and still have the quicks to guard NBA small forwards.  The funny thing is that he just showed that he can test out better than most of the sample SFs while carrying more weight.  He was quicker and faster than most of the guys we looked at while carrying more weight and his vertical was right in the middle.  Another interesting thing is Williams had the highest body fat % of all the measured SFs.  It's a little concerning, but I think Williams is the kind of guy that will put in the work to get more trim.  What does losing 10 lbs. of fat do for Williams vertical, agility and explosion?  Add a couple inches on the vertical and Williams is looking like an elite level athlete compared to NBA  small fowards.  Seriously, he's already the strongest, one of the fastest and most agile and comparable in vertical.  Cut the body fat to 5-7% and look out below!!!

The biggest question in my mind about Williams is how will he do defensively.  Can he guard the 3 spot night in and night out?  I think we can see that by the numbers and by the eye ball test, Williams has the ability to guard almost any NBA small forward.  Even the unguardable LeBron looks actually touchable given Williams combo of size, strength and athleticism.  Obviously Williams has a long, long ways to go towards becoming a good defender, but he seems like he's got the never quit mindset that seems necessary.

Offensively Williams shows a versatile game and the 3 pt shooting percentage in somewhat limited attempts is encouraging.  One of the things I like about Williams is that he has shown that he can put in the work to improve specific parts of his game.  His game will have to progress to thrive as an NBA three, but he seems to have no problem working to get things done.

I'm not as great with the advanced stats part of this compared to a lot on this site.  I know Williams has great efficiency although his numbers are better at the 4 than the 3.   I'd love some insight into how Williams game might translate offensively with more 3 pt opportunities or what offensive areas he needs to get better in to play the 3.  A look back at Danny Granger in college (a guy who played a lot of PF in college) would be welcome to show what a 4 to 3 transition might look like.

So...what's your verdict?  Can Derrick Williams play small forward?

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