Derrick Williams - So. SF/PF, Arizona
PER36min numbers against Quality Opponents (6 games):
24 pts, 11.1 rebs, 0.7 asts, 1.3 stls, 1.1 blks, 3.5 PFs, 3.1 TOs
53.4 FG%, 50.0 3pt% (5/10), 72.1 FT%, .93 FTA/FGA
Derrick Williams has a variety of opinions regarding how he’ll translate to the NBA level. Some think he has the tools to be a #1 option, some claim he’ll have to make the transition to SF to be effective, and some believe he’ll be like David West. What is not up for debate, however, is that he is an elite offensive weapon at the college level.
At 6’8, 241lbs Williams is a little undersized for a PF, however he is powerfully built and is relatively long. When projecting him to the NBA level, he possesses great athleticism for the PF position, while also being an above average athlete for the SF spot. I think it’s feasible that he could play either spot in the pros, though at this time he is far better suited for the PF spot due to his lack of shot-creation skills on the perimeter. He will, however, be a great source of energy and highlights because he can get up and finish.
Offensively, Williams is a great college talent. He gets flashes in the paint, seals, and gets position with the best of them which allows for him to get easy points against the smaller, less physical competition that he currently faces in college. His footwork around the hoop also can make his competition look silly, and is an area of strength which should translate well to the next level. He utilizes jab steps, spins, drop steps, and counter moves to get a good look at the hoop. Then, while looking to draw contact at every opportunity possible, his phenomenal touch around the rim allows him to convert at high percentages. This type of efficiency in the post allows him to draw an enormous amount of fouls and is the reason he boasts nearly a 1:1 FTA:FGA ratio, an incredible rate for someone as skilled as he is.
What balances his excellent post game is that he is also great spot up shooter who can hit 3’s at high efficiency. This will make him an extremely dangerous player alongside a competent PG, as when he screens he can both roll to the hoop to finish with authority, or pop out and nail the open jumper. He will, however, need to continue to advance his ball-handling skills as he cannot create his own looks on the perimeter, merely using his handle to drive to the rim when there is an opening in the defense. Another area which needs work is his recognition of open teammates flashing in the lane or open on the perimeter. To his credit, he does not force the issue if the defense is loaded on his side of the floor, but he also does not make the easy pass when it’s there - then again, when you are as efficient as Derrick is (he sports a very good 1.09 PPP) he is likely the best option on his college team unless triple teamed.
Onto what I consider one of his most prominent weaknesses: although Derrick possesses a nice combination of length and athleticism, he is not a quality defender. Frequently Derrick is seen “doing the wave” defensively, where he will stand straight up and put his arms in the air to deter his opponents shot attempt. While it’s better than committing a foul or doing absolutely nothing, this also makes him a relatively ineffective post defender who can be seen getting beat far too easily for a player who possesses the physical strengths he does. There are countless times I have seen guards attack the rim against Arizona and Williams will not contest but instead stand and watch - likely one of the reasons that the Wildcats are one of the worst defensive teams among the college powerhouses (they have a 91.2 adjusted D ranking according to kenpom.com, which places them 38th out of the top-50 teams). Although he is not a major threat around the rim, he does have relatively quick hands for a big and can be seen creating steals and then using his exceptional athleticism to run the floor and finish.
Lastly, his rebounding fundamentals could use quite a bit of work if he’s going to spend time at the PF spot. Although his numbers have picked up lately, Williams has serious flaws in his fundamentals where he uses his arms far more than his body to get position. Because he uses his arms, the guy he is attempting to box out can easily get around him and snatch the ball, while Derrick is left trying to use his athleticism to out jump his opponent. He should be a much more dominant rebounder than he currently is given his athleticism and the fact that he is usually playing PF and sometimes C for the Wildcats, but instead he is an average rebounder compared to the 15 PFs I have stats logged for.
Overall, there is plenty to like with Williams. While he is an undersized PF by NBA standards, he has the skills and athleticism to make up for the height advantage his opponents will have, while also having the ability to spend time at the SF spot (possibly full-time if he improves his handle). At his current pace, I believe he will be selected in the 7-15 range when draft time rolls around. The main things keeping him out of the top-5 discussion for me are his defensive shortcomings and his relatively average rebounding skills which I believe will keep him from being a force at the NBA level and instead will be looking at an upside of Antawn Jamison if he fulfills his potential.