2011 Draft Blog #14
Is Derrick Williams a viable option to go first overall in the 2011 Draft? Let’s examine that possibility.
It has been well documented how bad the upcoming draft class can be. Or is it misinterpreted potential? One reason the second statement can be true is the recent play of the PAC-10 Player of the Year Williams.
So far through two games, Williams has been the star of the tournament averaging 19.5 PPG 9.5 RPG while shooting 10-25 from the field. That is just the face value of the impact Williams has had on the games. Against Memphis – a quality team – he scored the go-ahead three and sealed the victory by blocking Wesley Witherspoon’s shot out of bounds. His encore? A game winning three-point play where he drove baseline and created contact for the foul. After the contact he put the ball up around the rim like only an elite scorer would think to do. He very well could have been satisfied with the sound of the whistle; instead he made the acrobatic shot to seal the victory for Arizona. High drama, very emotional plays and the impact in tight games only a true star can have.
The NCAA Tournament is just one piece of the puzzle, it is a vacuum of sorts for a prospects potential. The bright lights, high intensity and win-or-go-home element does tell a slightly bigger story than a big performance verse New Mexico State early in the season. The season as a whole shows how a prospect handles adversity, rises to the occasion and rebounds after a tough outing. There is no rebounding in the Tournament. This season we saw that out of Williams, after every humble performance he came back strong for his team.
Throughout the season Williams has been the constant driving for force for the Arizona Wildcats who find themselves in the Sweet 16 solely because of him. This season Williams has more than doubled his second leading scorers average (19.1 to 9.5), nearly doubled his compliments on the glass (8.2 to 4.6 or 4.3), led the team in steals (1.0), blocks (.7), field goal percentage (60%) and three-point percentage (58.1%). He was the definition of a “one-man team” all season.
Williams had 12 double-doubles; in eight of them he scored 20+ points. That shows that when Williams is on the hunt for rebounds, his scoring is not majorly effected.
For all his impact, he never carried himself like a star or went after stats for individual purposes. He did the opposite actually and played within the offense, at times too passive. But his ability and skill were exactly what his team needed to win.
His best skill by far has to be versatility. When defended by a larger, slower player Williams can take them to the perimeter and has the skill to either hit a three or take someone off the dribble. He is not an elite shooter or ball-handler, but is proficient enough to know when and how to attack a defender. Williams is not a dominate athlete, but is sneaky and much more athletic than meets the eye. He has hands down the quickest second jump I have seen in college basketball. The second jump is where a player makes an initial jump (to score, rebound, etc) and gets to the floor, but rises again. Whether it is for a rebound or a score, Williams does this better than anyone.
The ability to make those quick second jumps and his brute strength allow Williams to play in the paint as well. He is not a giant (6-8) and will not be intimidating Kevin Garnett or Amare Stoudemire on the blocks anytime soon. But his strength allows him to battle down low and create mismatches. Smaller or weaker opponents have no chance against Williams in the post as he can move them out of his way. Bigger or stronger opponents will have to step out and try to contain him on the perimeter with his shooting and handle. His versatility is the key to his success.
On the other hand, that versatility will create mismatches going against Williams as well. His lack of elite athleticism and foot speed will hurt him in trying to cover quick forwards in the half and full-court. Again, Williams is a sneaky athlete who can make plays, but also has limitations in what he can do. Those bigger and slower opponents may have their hands full with Williams on the defensive end, but when the ball goes to them in the post they will be able to bully the naturally smaller Williams.
For everything great Williams can do on offense he may be just as handicapped on the defensive end. Not to say Williams is a bad defender, which is not what this is meant to imply.
Most of the season Williams has been sheltered on defense, coaches ask him to do less so he can stay on the floor longer. He has shown the ability to make defensive plays and have an impact on games on both ends of the floor. But (much like Blake Griffin), Williams is the only cog in that offense and without him they are not quite an NIT team. Williams protects his fouls and at times appears to not be aggressive on defense, but that is by design.
Lastly – and most importantly – Williams makes star plays when a star needs to shine. Not many have that ability or knack, stars do not come along everyday and what Williams has done this season shows some star shine. He has carried the offensive and rebounding loads all season for Arizona, then in the last minute they ask even more of him. He has made two game winning defensive stands by blocking Darnell Grant (Washington) and Witherspoon (Memphis) in the last second of a game. Both of those plays showed great instinct and court awareness out of Williams on the defensive end. On the offensive end Williams nailed the go-ahead three in the same Memphis game and then 48 hours later completed a three-point play on a drive with less than 10 seconds left to beat Texas.
That is a star quality prospect that can make plays when the team needs them and also can carry a team on his back. Is Williams worth the No.1 overall selection in the 2011 Draft? Yes and no.
Yes, he is if the team there needs one of the most versatile forwards in this class. He is a high value to a team that can develop him and place him in the system that suits him.
No, if the team in question has a star at either small or power forward and is going to force Williams to play one position full-time. Williams needs to be able to switch in-and-out of the forward spots to create the ideal match-ups.
Derrick Williams is worth the No.1 pick.