Yesterday we asked who should replace Kevin Love in the starting lineup during Love’s suspension. Your response: Derrick Williams. And it wasn’t even close.
Williams and Michael Beasley are the most likely candidates to replace Love. Love’s suspension is an interesting if brief experiment to see what they might look like if Love weren’t locking down the four. Both have tantalizing talent, but neither has realized his full potential. Some have claimed that Love’s incumbency as the Wolves PF has hindered the development and performance of both Beasley and Williams by limiting their playing time and forcing them to play out of position.
It’s an intriguing experiment regardless of who gets the bulk of Love’s minutes. Before it begins, I wanted to take a close look at Williams and Beasley’s numbers this season to see if they suggest any interesting hypotheses.
The stats reveal some interesting trends.
Beasley (23.3/10.4) is scoring and rebounding at a higher rate than Williams (19.6/10.2), though Williams hits the offensive boards harder (3.4 vs. 2.1), which is not insignificant given the void that in this area created by Love’s absence. Beasley is turning the ball over (3.7 vs. 2.7) and fouling (4.1 vs. 3.1) at a much higher rate than Williams while blocking fewer shots (0.7 vs. 0.5) and getting fewer steals (1.2 vs. 0.9) than D-Will.
Williams has also shot more efficiently than Beasley, with a higher TS% (50% vs 47.8%), though Beas has shot the 3 much better (37.5% vs. 25%). As has been especially apparent over the past few weeks, Williams (62%) is less apt to settle for jumpers than Beasley (73%), who’s drawn much criticism for not getting more looks in the paint, where he has a nice touch (63.3% on inside shots, which is comparable to Williams’ 67%) but is more likely than Williams to get stuffed (23% vs. 10%).
Getting to the line is another important consideration in trying to replace Love’s production, and Williams has done it more efficiently than Beasley (6.6 vs. 5.4), though both have been getting to the line at a higher rate than the average NBA forward this season.
Overall, Williams has a WP48 of 0.089, while Beasley’s WP48 is -0.009, so there’s that to chew on too.
Finally, it’s important to remember that while Williams has not been overly impressive this year, Beasley has played about as bad as is imaginable, and in a small sample due to injury. Only looking at the numbers suggests Williams would probably do a bit more to replace Love’s production than Beasley, though neither would likely come close given Love’s almost historically impressive NUMB#RS this year. Operating from the (plausible) assumptions that Beasley has been UNSUSTAINABLY bad so far and is likely to regress to the mean, he might deliver more than Williams, whose learning curve, as evidenced by his nightly deer-in-headlights moments, is higher despite Beasley’s propensity to take questionable shots.
Caveats aside, I’d personally prefer to see Adelman throw the rook into the action so we could see what he’d do with the extra rope.
What’s your take?
UPDATE (3:05 PM EST): More from Zgoda on likely lineup adjustments for tonight’s game against Sacramento.
UPDATE (1:40 PM EST): @JerryZgoda reports that Williams wore the white starter’s jersey during today’s shootaround.