Derrick Williams’ grade so far for the 2011/12 season could only be marked “INCOMPLETE.”
Williams has had his ups and downs this season, and it isn’t clear where Adelman is going to play him. Williams is averaging 14.3 pts/36 mins and 8 rebs/36 mins on the season and his 14.33 PER is 5th on the Wolves if you don’t count J.J. Barea, who has played only 5 games. Williams has great chemistry with Ricky Rubio and is a strong, surprisingly physical, defender, especially when paired with Kevin Love and Anthony Tolliver, which was on display when the Wolves trounced the Wizards last week.
But Williams has struggled the last two games, scoring just 5 and 4 points against Chicago and New Orleans on a combined 2-11 (18%) shooting, after three encouraging performances against Cleveland, Washington, and Toronto in which he scored 12, 14, and 13 on 42% from the floor. He has been noticeably less confident the last few games, leading Adelman to cut his minutes to 22 against the Bulls and 16 against Nola (compared to an average of 28 minutes in the previous three tilts), a vicious cycle that causes Williams to press when he gets in the game, which makes him play worse, which makes Adelman give him even less PT.
If he’s going to find his niche on this team, D-Will needs consistent minutes, in long-ish stretches where he can get into a flow and not have to be looking over his shoulder at the scorer’s table. Adelman himself says he’s looking for more minutes for Williams. With K-Love doing work but getting gassed down the stretch last night against the Hornets, Adelman should give Love a bit more rest and work Williams back into the rotation tonight in the second game of a back-to-back on the road, against the Al Horford-less Hawks. Alternatively, Rick could at least spot him Wes Johnson’s minutes at the three–Wes has done nothing to address the longstanding concerns about his game.
FREE DERRICK WILLIAMS!
UPDATE (Sunday, January 15, 2011, 1:03 PM ET): Williams played only 8 minutes in Saturday night’s heartbreaker against the Hawks, scoring 2 pts on 1-4 from the floor. Chin up, D-Thrill!