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NBA Draft 2011: Derrick Williams Profile

If the Cleveland Cavaliers decide not to take Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick, then Derrick Williams will be their guy. While I have made it fairly clear that I think the Cavs should take Irving with the number one pick, it remains a possibility that the front office decides to go in a different direction and go with Williams out of Arizona. The Minnesota Timberwolves have made it clear that they will select either Williams or Irving with the #2 pick, depending on who the Cavs pick first. However, Minnesota has also announced that they are actively trying to trade the #2 pick, something that the Cavs would certainly be interested in. Whether the Cavs move up to the two spot or try to break my heart on draft night by selecting Williams first overall, let's review what they'd be getting. 

Derrick Williams is a 6'9" forward out of the University of Arizona. Williams played two season at Arizona but did not break out onto the national stage until the second half of last year. He emerged as one of the most dominant big men in college basketball, racking up 19.5 PPG along with 8.3 RPG. Williams got all of America's attention when he exploded during the NCAA Tournament, leading his Wildcats to an Elite Eight appearance where they fell to the eventual champs in UConn. Derrick Williams is an exceptional athlete and supplied an abundance of highlight reel dunks while at Arizona. Along with his near-elite athleticism, Williams also has a very good jump shot for a player his size. He shot nearly 57% from downtown on limited attempts last year and mustered a respectable 75% from the free throw line. One of the best aspects of Williams' game is that despite his proficiency as a jump-shooter, he has not fallen in love with jumpers. He rarely takes a bad shot and prefers not to settle for inefficient shots. This tendency certainly points to him having a high basketball IQ and being an efficient scoring option. 

The biggest question surrounding Derrick Williams is his position in the NBA. He has previously stated that he expects to play as a small forward in the NBA, yet many experts suspect he will be much more effective as a power forward. At 6'9", he possess the physical tools to play the 4 and should be able to develop a reliable post game as he matures. By playing him at the 4, his new team would be able to take advantage of his ability to stretch the floor against bigger, slower defenders. If he insists on playing the 3, Williams may have difficulty guarding quicker forwards. Williams definitely has the potential to be a very good NBA player, but there is also a chance that he falls flat a la Marvin Williams

Many Cavs fans may be eager to fill the void at SF left by Number 6, but I don't think this is the best opportunity to do so. Williams is much better suited as a power forward where he will be able to emphasize his strengths and occasionally use his shooting ability to keep the defense honest. If the Cavs manage to make a deal in which they trade J.J. Hickson and acquire the #2 pick, then by all means, draft Derrick Williams. But as far as the #1 pick goes, Cleveland would be much better off with Kyrie Irving than a tweener forward in Derrick Williams.