Today’s NBA Draft Blog Scouting Report is focusing on a player who, aside from Kemba Walker, has done the most to improve his draft stock early in the season. While Derrick Williams was Pac 10 Freshman of the Year last year, and is the current pre-season Player of the Year, a lot of people were still trying to project where he would fit in the NBA. 8 games into this season, I think we are starting to get a clearer vision of the player he is and can become. Here is my first look at Derrick Williams of Arizona. Keep in mind, these are first reports and we will continue to check in on players throughout the season.
Derrick Williams, Arizona - Sophomore
Forward- 6'8, 240
20 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 67.1% FG, 79% FT
Post Skills- Williams has become a more multi-faceted post player this season. He has added the ability to turn and score over both shoulders, as well as a solid face-up move, in addition to his ability to beat his man with quickness to the rim. He does a very good job getting position on the blocks, though he sometimes has trouble maintaining that position against larger defenders. Even if he is as at a size disadvantage, he could work at getting lower in his position to maintain his balance. He is very quick and his post moves have become much smoother this year. With the ability to finish strong, or with either hand, makes him that much more dangerous and unpredictable. Add to that his ability to face up and beat his man to the rim, and Williams may be one of the best post men in the NCAA this season.
Footwork- Williams has very quick feet and, for the most part, makes very smooth movements. However, he has had a problem since last season with what would be considered excess movement with his feet, especially in the post. It will be important for him to limit his moves to one or two quick steps. Right now, the extra movements are giving time for help defenders to react to him. On the positive side, he has added some nice post moves utilizing the drop step, though you can see it is still a work in progress.
Ballhandling/Hands/Penetration- Similar to his footwork issues, Williams’ biggest problem when it comes to ballhandling is the use of too many dribbles to complete his moves. He does have very good control of his dribble, and has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor with both hands equally well. I would like to see him learn to keep his dribble a little closer to his body, but that should be a minor adjustment for him as he handles the ball more out on the perimeter. He has very strong hands, and has had little problem handling even the most difficult of passes, both in the post or in transition. His ability to get to the basket from the perimeter has improved from last season, and he has shown a much better first step to the basket this year. He has shown that he can get into the lane from anywhere on the court, though he still needs to pick and choose his opportunities better, as he has a tendency to try to force the ball through the help defense. Once he gets into the lane, he can finish strong or use some finesse with either hand around the rim. The thing I have been most impressed by is how he controls his body once he makes his move to the rim, finding ways to get a good shot off when one doesn’t seem to be there.
Perimeter Shooting- The most improved part of his game this season has been his jumper. He has become more consistent with his mid-range jumper and has shown the ability to hit beyond the 3-point line. His form has gotten much better, and he is using his length well to get a higher release point on his shot. The next step for him will be learning to create his own shot on the perimeter, though even without it, the threat of his shot off a pick and pop will make him very dangerous at the next level. His shot selection has been excellent so far this season, and it is worth watching to see if he keeps that up through the season.
Rebounding/Passing- Williams uses his athletic ability well on the offensive glass. He has the ability to jump quickly and use his length to tip the ball or grab the board. He is very good at following his own misses and works very hard at going after missed shots. The one area he needs to work on here is reading the angles off of missed shots so he can get in better position, though he should gain this with more experience. Another key area where Williams needs to improve is his passing, especially out of the post. While he has certainly gotten better than last season, he still needs to react quicker to double teams and be able to find the open man much quicker than he has.
Free Throw Shooting - Williams is a good free throw shooter, and most important, he gets to the line regularly. With his current skill set, he should be able to get to the line 8-10 times a games, which will add up to some easy points for his team.
Post Defense- Williams does a great job using his body, and staying between his man and the basket. He moves his feet well, though he is susceptible to head and ball fakes, which have led to some fouls he really can’t afford to be getting. As he gets stronger, he will need to use his lower body more to force his man away from the basket. Once he holds his position, he uses his long arms well to make shots tougher for his man, though again, he needs to avoid fouling in these situations and just force the man to shoot over him.
Perimeter Defense- Williams hasn’t spent much time out on the perimeter defensively, and it is an area he will need to work on more as the season progresses. He moves his feet well when guarding the ball, but he needs to work more on his positioning between his man and the basket. An area where he is improved a lot this season is defending the pick and roll, where he is doing a great job showing and recovering to his man, and making sure that there is no easy pass off the roll to his man. He is still improving on closing on perimeter shooters, but his reactions have improved already this season.
Rebounding/Blocking- Fundamentally, Williams is a very good rebounder. He boxes out well and goes strong after the miss, often grabbing rebounds shortly after they hit the rim. Even better is his ability to grab the rebound and find the outlet quickly to start the transition game. While he has the tools to be a good shot blocker, he has yet to find the right timing to go after shots, and unfortunately, this has led to some bad fouls. With some more experience, he should adjust to the shots better and be able to make a good shot-blocking attempt without drawing contact.
Summary & Intangibles
Athleticism - Excellent
BB IQ - Above Average
Williams has the skills and athleticism to make an impact immediately at the NBA level. With the ability to play inside and out, NBA teams will love his versatility. There is still a lot of room for improvement here, which makes the idea of the kind of player he can become almost frightening. The biggest key to his growth this season will be consistency, on both ends of the floor. While he is more comfortable at the 4, I would think a lot of teams would love to see him eventually play the 3. If he was to enter the draft next season, he would almost certainly be a lottery pick, and if he continues to improve at the same pace as now, could be a top 7 or 8 pick.
Tomorrow we will take a look at another player that is gaining a similar reaction to Williams around the country – Marcus Morris of Kansas. Remember, leave any comments below, follow me on Twitter - @NBADraftBlog, or feel free to email me at the link up top.