Something struck me tonight as I watched newcomer Dante Cummingham wreck havoc on the Pacers' second string:
I don't get the point of Derrick Williams.
Now, this is not the same as thinking Williams is a bad player. Not at all. It's that I don't understand how he's going to fit into this puzzle of a team.
Granted it's preseason and a small sample size, but the last two games have seemed to pretty strongly indicate that weighing less isn't helping Williams be a better small forward. We've touched on this before, but the difference between a 3 and a 4 is pretty drastic. It's not just about being lighter, it's about having a different skillset and a different mindset. Williams just doesn't seem to possess skills and mind of a perimeter player...he instinctively runs to the hoop and wants to do his damage within 12 feet. His ballhandling is basically straight line direction only. He still alternates between drifting and overcrowding on defense.
I know a lot of us would love to see Williams work out successfully at the 3, but I just don't see how that realistically will happen. We couldn't get Beasley to work as a 3, and he actually had a good amount of the skills and at least the basic mindset for it. Williams isn't going to overtake Kirilenko, and it's kind of hard to make a reasonable argument for why he should be the #1 reserve instead of Budinger. At this point, I have a hard time even convincing myself he's the best backup for Love, after seeing up close what Cunningham can do. Dante is a physical, blue-collar guy who's going to affect the game with sheer activity (and without his numbering being called) by rebounding, playing hard-nosed defense, and just generally being disruptive. And that, in a very real way, makes him better suited to and more valuable for this team.
At some point, I think this team is just going to have to face the facts: Williams is a guy who could potentially be a pretty good power forward, on a team that has absolutely no minutes available at power forward.
It's not like the Wolves are oblivious to this sort of thing. The reason we got Cunningham in the first place is because the team saw it had a need for a hustler/defender in the post and no minutes available for Wayne Ellington on the wings.
I like Williams, and I think he'll have a good career as a valuable player, but I don't see how it will happen here. He's a stretch 4, on a team that already has one of the best, if not the best, stretch 4s in the league. With Kirilenko and Cunningham filling in the gaps around Love, how is Williams going to find space?