Some teams have all the luck. The Minnesota Timberwolves are not one of those teams.
A regular in the lottery, yet never with the first overall pick. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. If a certain draft has two “can’t miss” prospects in it, Minnesota is sure to end up drafting third overall. Which brings us to the 2011 NBA Draft.
This is considered a two player draft – Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams. But, shockingly, Minnesota ended up with pick #2. Good news for the Wolves – things are finally looking up, right? Wrong.
Why wrong? Because the player expected to be the obvious pick at #2, Arizona’s Derrick Williams, just doesn’t fit in Minnesota. Never mind the fact that he really isn’t a sure fire “can’t miss” NBA prospect. There really aren’t any in this year’s talent pool, outside of Irving who should be good, but probably not great.
Williams is a hybrid forward. Probably best suited to play power forward, but better at facing the basket and superb at shooting from outside. At 6-9, 250 lbs, with a 7’1″ wingspan, Williams has the size to play the post and the skills to play the wing. That all sounds great, right? Except for the fact that Minnesota is loaded – as loaded as a 17-win team can be – at the forward spots. And they’re not just loaded, they are loaded with young talent that they are deeply invested in. We’re talking Kevin Love, Michael Beasley – who Williams has been compared to, minus the “eccentricities” – Wesley Johnson, Anthony Randolph, Martell Webster – the list goes on and on. All in their early 20’s and all expecting/deserving big minutes.
So where does Derrick Williams fit in among Minnesota’s motley crew? Simple answer – he doesn’t.
Which might explain why now, at the eleventh hour, it is leaking out that Minnesota plans on passing on Williams and taking Turkish big man Enes Kanter, who didn’t even play last year after being ruled ineligible at Kentucky, instead at pick #2. Which would be a big mistake for the Wolves, who despite their abysmal record year in, year out, actually don’t totally suck at drafting players. It’s not a case that Kanter is a bad prospect. He’s actually the best big man in this year’s draft. Rather, it’s a case that Williams is the best prospect in the draft not named Kyrie.
When a 17-win season is an improvement for a team, you can’t afford to pass on talent and draft based on need instead. When you win 17 games, you take the best talent available, position on the court be damned. Deal with the logjam on your roster later by making some trades, or better yet, deal your spot in the draft to a team who covets Williams and pick up some talent that way. But don’t pass on Williams just because he doesn’t fit on your current roster.
Remember, beggars can’t be choosy.