Court Vision: Considering Derrick Williams’ future with Timberwolves
• It takes some players a bit longer to find their way in the league than others, a truth that leaves hope still for the likes of Minnesota forward Derrick Williams. The 22-year-old former No. 2 overall pick is entering his third season in the pros, but without any dependable line of performance. Zach Lowe dug into Williams’ game and prospects — along with those of a handful of similarly unreliable players — in a piece for Grantland:
Williams has shown some potential as a small-ball power forward — a spot-up shooter who could stretch the floor around pick-and-rolls for Love and Pekovic. Williams has been a disappointing shooter so far in the pros, but he hit an almost-respectable 33 percent from deep last season, he has a nice stroke, and guys who shot as well as he did from deep in college have almost universally settled in as above-average 3-point shooters in the NBA.
Saunders says Williams could turn into something like a more athletic Al Harrington, spotting up on the weak side of pick-and-rolls …
Having Williams do this at power forward drags an opposing big man out of the lane and presents Williams with an easier decision tree if he catches the ball: shoot, pass, or drive. Williams has struggled badly to make choices in even more crowded situations closer to the rim. He’s a bit of a ball-stopper, out of greed and decision paralysis — both no-nos in Rick Adelman’s corner offense. Way too many Minnesota possessions ended with Williams catching the ball after one action, holding it 20 feet from the hoop with a dozen or more ticks left on the shot clock, and then engaging in some very sad series of jab steps and crossover dribbles before launching a horrific step-back jumper. Watching Adelman’s reactions to these shots became the game-within-a-game for League Pass addicts and/or folks who enjoy coaches acting out their misery in hilariously grandiose pouty gestures.
• Rasual Butler, the 10-year NBA veteran who spent last season playing for the D-League’s Tulsa 66ers, has reportedly agreed to a deal with the Pacers. Ho-hum.
• Jonathan Tjarks notes that if — as most would agree – the basketball development complex in the United States is broken, then it’s the NBA that has the power to fix it.
• The invaluable Basketball-Reference.com has unveiled a new section of welcome trivia: NBA “trailers.” The worst statistical performers in a single season or an entire NBA career are now but a click away, including those among active players. Did you know that Raymond Felton has the third-lowest true shooting percentage among all active (and statistically qualified) players? That Earl Watson has the highest active turnover rate? That Josh Smith, Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook rate as the worst three-point shooters to meet the qualifying number of attempts? Explore and delight in the findings.
• Get to know the game of 6–foot-6 point guard and likely 2014 lottery pick, Dante Exum, via Draft Express:
• Fascinating — and counterintuitive — findings on the relationship between a team forcing turnovers and scoring efficiently.
• Player evaluation is a muddled mess of perception, drawn upon the qualitative and quantitative both to create the most reliable projection of future value possible. Rahat Huq considers the challenges of that process in his appraisal of Chandler Parsons – a young, underpaid Rocket whose acclaim has risen perhaps too quickly:
So greatly has Parsons’ repute risen in the public eye that I’d posit, and have done so, that he’s become the most overrated Houston Rocket. Shortly after the signing of Dwight Howard, it was interesting to note the surplus of mentions from national publications citing Parsons as part of a new ‘Big 3′ (including Howard and Harden.) Preposterous, of course: Parsons isn’t a ‘star’ and most likely never will be.
It’s important to clarify here upon the distinction between actual and relative value. Parsons’ value lies in his contract. To wit, he is — bar none — the single best value contract in the entire league. But if that salary were regularized across all players with an inspection upon solely on-court merits, then, of course, much of that value diminishes. I have almost no doubt that if, when Parsons’ contract is up, the team were in the same position that they found themselves in last summer — headed nowhere — and faced with a similar decision as they did with Goran Dragic, they would choose to let Parsons walk — as they did Dragic — rather than shell out market value. Because they will not be in that similar situation, things get more interesting.
• Indulge in the Cult of Jimmy Goldstein.
• What do Vince Carter, Michael Beasley, Aaron Brooks, Michael Redd, Wes Johnson, Jermaine O’Neal, Earl Barron, Zabian Dowdell, Diante Garrett, Hamed Haddadi, Dwayne Jones, Mickael Pietrus, Ronnie Price, Garret Siler and Luke Zeller have in common?