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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.