Souhan: Williams on his way to joining list of Wolves draft busts

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 16, 2012 - 12:11 PM

Derrick Williams isn't doing enough to help a team in desperate need of scoring.

hide

Derrick Williams (7)

Photo: Marlin Levison, Dml - Star Tribune Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Derrick Williams was given considerable physical gifts, and he is squandering them.

He is being given the precious gift of NBA playing time, and he is wasting it.

As the Timberwolves begin to resemble the cast of the "The Walking Dead," Williams is sleepwalking through one of the most important periods of his young career.

The Wolves need him, and he is fading away from responsibility the way he fades away from the basket when confronted by a defender.

Wednesday night in an 89-87 loss to Charlotte, the Wolves were down to nine healthy players, none of whom is a primary scorer, even though Andrei Kirilenko is willing to accept that responsibility.

With his team desperate for points and minutes, Williams failed. Asked to carry the scoring load in the first quarter, he shot 1-for-6 in the quarter and 3-for-12 overall, often getting to the rim only to have his shot rejected or altered. Although he had nine rebounds for the evening, he meandered on defense and finished the game with a plus-minus of minus-6.

That was the second-worst plus-minus on the team. The only player with a lower rating was Will Conroy at minus-10. The Wolves released Conroy on Thursday.

When his team needed him to play 40 or more quality minutes, Williams played 23, ceding playing time to Dante Cunningham and Lou Amundson and forcing Kirilenko to stress-test his 31-year-old legs.

The Wolves' most gifted healthy player isn't playing long enough or hard enough to justify the second pick in the 2011 draft, isn't playing long or hard enough to justify his place on a team that desperately needs him right now, and he doesn't seem to understand that if he can't help right now he might not be asked to help much later.

The Wolves have four players on the All-Star ballot. Three are injured. Two haven't played at all this season. Six of their seven top players were out Wednesday.

Their best healthy player, Kirilenko, is surviving with brains and elbows, surviving by reminding his teammates that 95 percent of the game is played below the rim and between the ears. Thursday, the day after Williams faded, the Wolves signed small forward Josh Howard as a (luke)warm body to help spell Kirilenko.

Williams should be embarrassed. Apparently, he is not.

"I think we all struggled," he said, referring to all of the Wolves who had shots blocked.

Asked about his progress, he said: "I'm feeling a lot better. I'm not worried about misses and makes like that. If you play the game going off misses and makes it's going to be a long season."

After the game, I asked Adelman if he needed more from Williams. "Yes," he said. "I thought he let them get to him around the basket, he didn't finish around the basket. ... That's something he's got to learn. ... I guess that's what we're trying to find out right now."

Kevin Love struggled to finish near the rim in his first two years in the NBA. Embracing contact and drawing fouls are skills that can be learned.

To learn, though, an athlete must recognize his deficiencies and work to improve. Williams doesn't seem to get it. He is playing in an offensive system that should allow him to thrive, and he is shrinking when the Wolves need him to prove his worth.

It's too early to give up on Williams. It's not too early to stick him at the end of the bench and make him watch pros like Kirilenko and Cunningham play with a sense of purpose.

It's too early to call Williams another Timberwolves draft bust, but he's got one foot in Wes Johnson territory.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Wolves add Josh Howard for needed depth

    Friday November 16, 2012

    Without Chase Budinger, injured last Saturday, Andrei Kirilenko has played 44 minutes in consecutive games, and that had to change.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston - LP: B. Workman 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3
Toronto - LP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 3
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 2
Los Angeles - WP: P. Rodriguez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: N. Ramirez 4
Cleveland 1 Bottom 12th Inning
Houston 1
Milwaukee 2 Top 12th Inning
St. Louis 2
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 6 FINAL
Colorado - WP: L. Hawkins 7
Philadelphia 1 Top 9th Inning
San Diego 7
Seattle 0 Top 7th Inning
LA Angels 0
Tampa Bay 14 FINAL
Atlanta 56
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close