According to a published report from the Associated Press, the Minnesota T-Wolves have elected to exercise their 2014-2015 option on forward Derrick Williams. This move will keep Williams in Minnesota for at least one additional season (barring a trade), and the former #2 overall pick will earn $6.3 million for the 2014-2015 season.
Normally, picking up the team option for a player picked this high in the draft is almost an automatic move. However, Williams has famously struggled in his two pro seasons so far, and there are real fit concerns with Minnesota, who happens to employ one of the best power forwards in the game in Kevin Love.
Last season, Williams’ production saw a noticeable spike that provided reason for optimism. In 78 games, the 6-foot-8 combo forward averaged 17.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per 36 minutes of action, and that would give him slightly better than league-average production. However, it wasn’t all positive for Williams, as he posted just a 14.5 PER (below the league average of 15) and shot 43% from the field, which would represent a subpar rate for a frontcourt player.
For me, Williams is a position-less player who is in the wrong organization. He has undeniable talent (remember his final year at Arizona?) that led him to be selected at #2 to an organization that already employed a star power forward, but his versatility only goes as far as the talent around him. He’s clearly not a natural fit at the small forward thanks to his shooting and defensive woes, but I believe he would eventually succeed (at least offensively) if given the chance to play as a full-time “smallball” power forward.
With the security of a reasonable contract, it’s entirely possible that Minnesota could peddle Williams on the trade market, but more likely, he’ll be given every chance to click with Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, and the aforementioned Kevin Love in a quality foursome for the T-Wolves.