Even the casual observer of the Pistons knows their most glaring deficiency this season: a lack of depth in the frontcourt.
At 6-foot-8, Arizona’s Derrick Williams is among the top frontcourt prospects in the draft. Right now, he’s projected to go as early as first overall to fifth overall, so it’s unclear if he’ll be around by the time the Pistons pick first. But with a lot of parity among this year’s top prospects, it’s conceivable that, like Greg Monroe last year, a pretty good talent could slip through the first few picks and end up a Piston.
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 241 pounds sophomore forward for Arizona
Key stats: 19.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, shooting 61 percent from the field
Projected: Top half of lottery
How would he help the Pistons?
I saw this headline — ‘Derrick Williams shooting 60 percent in clutch situations‘ — on RealGM the other day and thought it was interesting. Then I looked at Williams’ stats and realized the dude shoots 61 percent in all situations.
That’s the immediate value of Williams to any team that drafts him — he’s a high efficiency finisher. Paired with Greg Monroe up front, the Pistons would have two players capable of making 55 percent or more of their shots. Few teams in the NBA could boast a combo like that.
As I mentioned in the first Draft Dreams post, the thing I personally look for in any prospect is ‘Did they improve?’ You want guys who work on their game, guys who make leaps from one year to the next in college, and Williams has certainly done that. He doesn’t shot a lot of 3-pointers, but as a freshman, that wasn’t a part of his arsenal at all. This season? He’s taken 45 threes and hit 62 percent (!) of them. He’s also getting to the line a lot more. Last season, playing virtually the same number of minutes per game, he shot 232 free throws in 31 games. This season, in 29 games, he’s already shot 254.
Williams can create his own shot but also moves well without the ball and runs the floor well.
How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?
The most glaring problem with a Williams-Monroe frontcourt would be that neither guy is a shot blocker. Williams is a solid enough defender at the college level, although like Monroe, he’d certainly need to add some strength to handle NBA bigs. But with the abundance of penetrating guards in the NBA, having a presence at the rim who can block or alter shots is vital to a strong defense.
Although Williams has improved his rebounding this season, he’s still not what any would consider dominant on the boards, and because he’s only 6-8, it’s hard to project how he’d fare as a NBA-level rebounder. It’s not a huge issue because the Pistons have Monroe, Ben Wallace and Jonas Jerebko, all solid rebounders, on the team, but if Williams is going to be a power forward in the NBA, he’ll have to continue improving on the boards.
What are others saying?
“While he’s not the biggest player in this draft (he’s likely to measure somewhere between 6-8 and 6-9), nor the longest or most explosive, Williams’ polished skills, high basketball IQ and fantastic scoring instincts are tools that NBA teams are in desperate need of these days. Smart, versatile power forwards who can create their own offense and score from anywhere on the floor are viewed by many as the second-most coveted players in the league right now after pick-and-roll point guards.”
“One of his best assets revolves around his high offensive awareness level- he times his cuts in the paint in rhythm with his point guard and the ball movement around him … He uses pump fakes and positions his body efficiently when going up for a layup or dunk under the rim … With his back to the basket, Williams uses his strength, along with long and efficient drop steps to create separation where he can score on 10 foot turn around jumpers and touch hooks … He is capable of facing up, where he can attack by putting the ball on the floor, and though he doesn’t have the speed or handle to blow by his defender, he uses his body to shield his defender, making it difficult to contest his shot.”
“Williams has had one of the biggest jumps of anyone on our draft board this season. He came into the regular season ranked No. 26 on our Big Board but in late December had cracked the lottery, and a month ago we moved him into our Top 10. On Sunday we moved him all the way to No. 4. That’s a huge leap for a guy who many scouts felt lacked the elite athleticism or size at his position to be a lottery pick. How has Williams made the jump? First, he has been the most efficient player in college basketball this season, according to John Hollinger’s PER. Second, he’s shown scouts that he’s a better athlete than they thought he was and has dramatically improved his face-the-basket game.”