College, NBA, NBA Draft / Jun 15, 2011 / 3:45 pm

Dime NBA Draft Profile: Arizona’s Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams (photo. University of Arizona)

The NBA Draft is simply the most important time of the year for rebuilding franchises. Just ask the Portland Trail Blazers. Whether it is the next Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant or the next Sam Bowie or Greg Oden, we are out to identify the legitimate prospects from the phony ones. Every week, we will deliver a profile of a top prospect and break down their game. We will give you player comparisons, ratings (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being NBA Rookie of the Year caliber and 1 being overseas caliber), outsider opinions on the prospects, and much more. Last we had BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, and next up is Arizona forward Derrick Williams.

Player Comparisons
Comparison: Wilson Chandler
Ceiling: Larry Johnson/Charles Barkley
Basement: Ryan Gomes

Ratings (on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being overseas talent and 10 being NBA Rookie of the Year)

Williams is not just one of the best athletes in this draft, he is also one of the most versatile ones. He can run the floor like a gazelle and throw down a dunk in the lane with the best of them. Physically, he has a nice, strong frame for a 19-year-old. The only aspect that Williams is missing is explosiveness. If he is going to play minutes at the small forward position, he will need to improve his quickness to blow by opponents. Blowing by defenders was not an issue for Williams in college, but in the NBA the quicker and longer defenders will give him issues.
Grade: 9

Most simply look at Williams’ body and athleticism, but many overlook his excellent skill level. For a combo forward, Williams shoots and posts up exceptionally well. He shot 57% from beyond the arc and 59% from the field. He will need to improve his free-throw shooting, which was a mere 74% (but it was an improvement from his 68% from his freshman year). For a player his size, he also handles the ball surprisingly well too. He excels at burning defenders off the dribble. He can also take them down into the post and school them with his great array of moves. The great part about all of this is that Williams does it all efficiently. He won’t need a lot of shots to be effective, which is why Williams earned a 10.
Grade: 10

NBA Readiness
While there are some concerns about his size (6-8), Williams will be able to contribute to an NBA team right away. He might do more than just contribute too. Depending on what team he lands on, Williams may be ready to have an offense run around him already. He might need some time to figure out how his game will translate to the NBA, but in terms of physical features and mindset, he is ready.
Grade: 8

This is where things get confusing about Williams. If he ends up being a tweener, that will definitely limit his potential. The key for Williams will be to land on a good team, which is unfortunately not in his control. He has the tools and attitude to become a great player but that does not automatically mean he will be successful.
Grade: 9

In Dime #58, Austin Burton wrote about how Williams has a chip on his shoulder due to the “East Coast Bias”. Even after a great tournament run, Williams is not on top of any mock drafts. There is no doubt in my mind that Williams is still motivated by this. He is also apparently a very smart kid.
Grade: 8

Combined score: 44 out of 50 possible points
Give credit where credit is due: Austin Burton called this one panning out way before anyone else did in Dime #58. If Williams can do everything in his power to prevent himself from getting labeled as a “tweener,” he could be a special player. Perhaps one of the only ones in this draft with “franchise player” potential.

Best Fit: Washington Wizards
It was sad watching lonely John Wall lose game after game this year. It is like watching Batman without Robbin. The Wizards need an excuse to unload Andray Blatche and Williams would be an unbelievable upgrade, a legitimate second option. Not only would he bring a better attitude, but he would also be a nice fit alongside JaVale McGee. A moral boost is needed for this organization and it will take more than just John Wall to push them to the playoffs. If they could ever acquire Williams, it certainly would be a step in the right direction.

Outside Opinions
“I had never seen him before the game against Duke, but I came off as amazed. I thought we had every weapon possible to throw at Williams, but he demolished everyone we had. Obviously he’s not going to do that every game in the NBA, but I think that game was a testament to his upside.” – An anonymous Duke fan.

Video Evidence

What do you think?

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  • IC

    I see some Paul Pierce in his game. Not a “pure” shooter but will knock it down when it counts a la Pierce. Go to-cluth factor will develop. Ability to defend man and weak-side, FT/G, grit, and clutchness will make him a very productive player.

  • Kudabeen

    I think he is a better pick than Irving. Nut I also would rather have Kemba than Irving or Knight…I’m in the minority.

    Derrick has all this talent because he worked to improve his game…There are no whispers about his “motor”, so all the size, skill, athleticism, and youth without doubts about his motor? Why isn’t he a better choice.

    I don’t see Irving as an All-star within the next 5 years, so I don’t know what others see. Who is he better than in the league or will be better than in the next 3-4 years?


    I don’t see any Wilson Chandler in Williams(Bar the 3 pointer) at all (No homo) I definitely agree on the Paul Pierce comparison… at best he’ll be a cheap man’s Paul Pierce, considering PP is a Hall Of Famer that is good enough for any team.

    Whilst I definitely feel like Williams + Knight is a better haul than Irving and whoever… I just wouldn’t pass on Irving with the No.1 pick… you don’t pass on potential franchise PGs to take athletic SFs… EVER.

    I don’t see him as a tweener at all, he should play SF in the NBA… end of story… he isn’t a PF just as Michael Beasley isn’t a PF.

    Me personally I think Knight has a higher ceiling than Irving but is also a much bigger bust risk and you don’t know if he’ll even be there at #4… If you could guarantee Knight then me personally I’d take Williams… but there is no way you can guarantee Knight when Minnesota or Utah could both potentially take him.

    I just hope Williams doesn’t go to Minnesota, they’ll just ruin him. I’d actually ban Minnesota from ever drafting a player again if I ran the league.

  • Clutch

    Williams tested at just under 6’9 in shoes at the combine, is listed at 6’9 at draftexpress, and has a 7’1 wingspan. He is not undersized for the power forward position and should have no trouble matching up against most other power forwards in the league. Granted Williams is more of a 3/4 type of power forward as opposed to a 4/5 type as he cannot slide over to center however he should be able to play either SF or PF perfectly fine.

    He does have the foot speed to play SF as well as the skill set. Watch him when he played against bigger players he was easily able to take them off the dribble and pull up for jumpers as well as 3s (Duke, USC, UCLA are good examples) Yes against smaller weaker players he posted them up (he also did this to bigger players as well) but honestly how can the ability to post up smaller or similar sized players be looked at as a knock against him?

    The biggest misconception out there is confusing Williams versatility with being a tweener. Williams will be a fantastic scorer at the next level due to his ability to get to the free throw line and having an in-between/mid-range game. This game wasn’t displayed much while in college as he rarely had to use it.

    Likewise his defense should actually improve at the NBA level. In college williams was a SF/PF forced to guard other teams centers. In a conference that actually had a good amount of skilled post players (Nikola Vucevic, Josh Smith, Josh Powell, Casto) so of course his defense is going to seem more suspect when he is giving up size and weight on a nightly basis.

    Derrick Williams is going to be a star and the best player in this draft.

  • Russ

    Excuse me. It’s spelled “Robin” and not “Robbin.” Sheesh, I come here expecting top grade basketball blogging not misspelling of Batman’s sidekick. Just messin’

    Also I hope Williams does well in the league. I think the tweener tag does hurt him but athletically I think he can handle both forward spots. I hope he turns out as the best player of this draft.

  • Kevin Z

    Not sure about the Pierce comparison because Williams has the size and strength of an NBA power forward (I believe he did the bench 19 times at the combine, which is pretty good), and his success will depend on how he can defend faster small forwards. If he can handle that, he’s a mismatch whether he plays the 3 or 4. And Clutch is right, he played the 5 in college and had to deal with players that are legit NBA-center size.