June 22, 2011

Derrick Williams - You remind me of…

Preparing for the NBA draft is a challenge in itself; especially when you have the media critiquing every part of your game making it seem like you live under a microscope. With that being said, star forward Derrick Williams is handling everything extremely well.

During his interview at the combine Williams displayed a great amount of confidence that was misinterpreted as arrogance when he was being asked about his potential in the NBA and if he had done enough to establish himself as the best player in this year's draft.

Now Williams, a likely top two pick in Thursday's draft, will start hearing comparisons about who is game resembles the most - there is more than just one player. While Williams is obviously the best athlete in this draft, he's also considered a hybri or a "tweener", which is a player that's not just one position, depending on the person that you ask.

If in fact Williams stays at the power forward spot, which is hit or miss depending on the system he gets drafted into because he is a little undersized, than he could make an impact at that spot. His game reminds most people of current Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley because they both have great face-up games and they can both put it on the floor.

I see Williams game evolving but I see it evolving similar to the way that current New Orleans power forward David West's game has evolved over the last eight seasons. One of the things Williams and West are both not given enough credit for is their jab step move to create space. Williams has an array of moves he uses to get to the basket and he has added a three point shot to his game; if he continues to develop that before the season starts he could be a versatile player with a pick and pop option for the team he gets drafted to during Thursday's NBA draft.

When Williams worked out for Minnesota last week, they were impressed with his perimeter skills, saying for his size he had a great handle and had some great moves going from left to right. The only question that lingers with Williams playing the perimeter is his foot speed and if he can guard a typical small forward in the NBA like a LeBron James or a Kevin Durant.

If Williams' foot speed, ball handling and lateral quickness improve than there's no doubt he can play small forward in the NBA. Williams has a valuable asset that could help him out at the next level and that is his quick leaping ability for his size.

The most athletic players in the NBA have tremendous leaping ability but for being an undersized power forward, Williams has what most scouts and coaches call "quick ups" which is the ability to follow a shot quick after a player misses it and at both college and the NBA, a lot of players use this to catch tip-dunks and grab rebounds.

This is something that can play a big part for Williams at the next level because the average height for a power forward in the NBA is 6 '10 and while Williams would be undersized he would have a valuable asset with his leaping ability, amongst other things.

Since there is no summer league because of a potential lockout, I believe that Williams will continue to work on the little things after he gets drafted, like his footwork, ball-handling skills, and his lateral speed. With that being said, look for Williams to be somewhat of a combo forward, almost like Paul Millsap of the Utah Jazz. He'll have the ability to beat bigger defenders of the dribble and post up smaller defenders once he finds his niche and gets in the right system. Combine that with his athleticism and you could be looking at an impact-ready player as a rookie.

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