And so ends the strange journey of Derrick Williams in a Timberwolves uniform.
The forward and No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft has been dealt to the Kings for Luc Mbah a Moute.
For Williams, it means a fresh start, we suppose. He was always miscast in Minnesota -- stuck behind Kevin Love at power forward, his best and most natural position, and constantly in the doghouse with veteran coach Rick Adelman. That said, for whatever offensive gifts D-Will has, his game is startlingly one-dimensional. He does not consistently defend. He doesn't have a good idea of team basketball on offense. Whether he simply failed to develop or the Wolves failed to get through to him can be debated. But he was not a good player here, we don't believe he was ever going to evolve into a key player on a good team, and he needed to move on.
The larger forces at plan in this are these:
*Clearly the Wolves are in "win-now" mode, with Mbah a Moute stepping in as a valuable rotation player who can defend the wing. He will be useful, no doubt, but he's a puzzle piece and not a building block. Part of the mentality is undoubtedly trying to keep Kevin Love happy in hopes that he doesn't opt out of his contract in the summer of 2015. The fact that Mbah a Moute was Love's college teammate at UCLA plays into this.
*We can close the books on a series of drafts by the Wolves that are nothing short of a disaster. In fact, let's start with the No. 6 pick in 2009, right after the Wolves took Ricky Rubio at No. 5. From that point on, here are the players they chose in the first round with the intent of keeping them on their team:
Jonny Flynn, No. 6 in 2009; Wes Johnson, No. 4 in 2010; Williams, No. 2 in 2011; Shabazz Muhammad, No. 14 in 2013; Gorgui Dieng, No. 21 in 2013.
Flynn, Johnson and Williams have been dumped. Muhammad isn't seeing the light of day. Dieng has showed some recent promise, but he's still not a regular rotation player. Add in the fact that Chase Budinger, acquired for the first-round pick in 2012, is injured right now and that is a TON of accumulated assets that are combining to give the Wolves virtually nothing on a nightly basis right now.
At least Mbah a Moute will give them something.