Checking in - "Irrational Exuberance"

5 weeks I wrote a post titled "Irrational Exuberance" and thought I'd check in on some of the assertions made as a sort of accountability in community blogging exercise. The post was in two parts, each focusing on a specific player who could help make or break the Wolves' season this year.

I'll start with player 2 - Derrick Williams.

What I said then:

Be forewarned - I titled this post irrational exuberance for a reason. The Darko bit is actually quite rational - if the guy focuses on D, doesn't play too much, and shoots within his own abilities, he's a decent player to have on your squad. Derrick Williams? I think I'm going to be throwing gas on the fire here, but the truth is that I'm not satisfied with the comps being thrown out there for him.

I believe that Derrick Williams is a legit efficient offensive scorer. I think his three point range is a strength, and I am impressed with his ability to finish with defenders wrapped around him. Will he be as efficient in college? No way, but he will be a big breath of fresh air around these parts.

And for the most part that has held sort of true. What I missed at the time was Williams' transition to the mental speed of the NBA game. When he knows what he's doing in rhythm with the game Williams has looked pretty damn good. The problem has been too often he looks like he needs a few seconds to figure out what he wants to do. Hopefully this will improve in time.

I then went to write about all the players Williams could end up being like, ultimately buying into BBall Prospectus' assertion that he'd be like J.J. Hickson. Williams has significantly outperformed Hickson this year. So good news on that one.

As for the first player profiled, that would Darko:

All last year I cringed everytime I saw Darko attempt that stupid baby hook. For the first dozen games I thought maybe his confidence would come around and he'd become manna from heaven. Darko got Rambis'd and forced to play a role he's simply not cut out to do. Doesn't mean he can't help a team, just means that a) Rambis is going to continue to look worse and worse as a coach the further away we get for trying to make Darko instead of Love the offensive gate-keeper, and b) Darko needs to go back to what made him most successful, and by most successful I mean his two best seasons ever, one at Orlando and one at Memphis.

If you look at his numbers, specifically TS%, it's not as if he shot it particularly better those years. And it's not as if he rebounded significantly better those two years (although his Oreb and Dreb%'s were slightly better). Offensively the only notable thing that I noticed was that he attempted more FTA's per36 those two years - nearly twice as many compared to last year. Before I get to what I think, offensively, is the biggest thing holding Darko back, I just want to reiterate that his primary value lies as a defensive, 15-20 mpg big man who plays against guys Love simply is too short to handle.

Digging deeper into Darko's offensive contributions over the past years (pun intended), I found a clear 'symptom' of what I think went so wrong under Rambis. Namely, shot attempts from 3-9', aka the dreaded baby hook. According to Hoopdata, Darko's issue isn't lack of shot attempts at the rim (since 2007 per40 minutes his at rim attempts are 5.1, 4.8, 5.2, wasted year between NY/MIN, and 5.1), nor his ability to convert those (lowest FG% was .580). Quite simply Darko set a career high last year in attempts from 3'-9' (per40 minutes) with 7.2 FGAs, or nearly double his two good years (4.0 and 3.9). Those two years where he posted a WS/48 of better than .080 he played offensively within his means - attempts at the rim, limited attempts away from it, good defense, and an elevated free throw rate. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how Adelman will try to use Darko?:

19 minutes, two FGA's, 3/4 free throws, and 3 blocked shots.

Darko is still probably taking too many shots, but he's not having a terrible season by his standards. His best value will always remain in his defense, and at $4 million a year that's about right for a 7' center in the NBA.

And for the record, this year:

18.8 mpg, 5.4 FGA, 0.8 of 1.7 free throws, and 1.2 blocks (although he started the season very slow on blocks.) Be aggressive, draw FTAs big fella, and you'll be OK!

On a sidenote, what do y'all think of this line?

15.3 mpg, 4.8 FGA, 1 of 1.4 FTA, and 0.4 blocks? That would Mr. Pekovic.

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