With Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love sidelined by a hand injury for the first few weeks of the season, it seemed Derrick Williams would get a big opportunity to justify his status as the #2 overall pick in 2011 after having an up-and-down rookie season.
But that did not really come to fruition, with just one game with more than 15 points in his first nine games. Overall this season, heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Williams was averaging 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 10 games played (nine starts).
Love made an unexpected return to action on November 21 against the Denver Nuggets, and Williams again looked like a player without a spot in coach Rick Adelman’s rotation after not seeing the floor at all in three of Love’s first four games back. But forward Andrei Kirilenko sat out Wednesday night’s game due to back spasms, theoretically opening up some playing time for Williams. But he played just 12 minutes in the game, scoring four points (2-for-5 from the floor) along with five rebounds.
Kirilenko may not be out for an extended period of time, but his high early season minute totals (including four games with 40-plus minutes played) may be catching up with him and Adelman will have to consider reducing his minutes going forward to help keep him on the floor and maximize his effectiveness. That should mean Williams will get an opportunity to play more at small forward, with Love monopolizing most of the minutes at power forward.
It is still unclear where Williams fits in the future of the Timberwolves’ franchise, since his primary position is the same as Love’s and Adelman clearly still has little faith in him. A productive run over the next few weeks, assuming consistent playing time becomes the norm, will either solidify Williams in Minnesota’s short and long-term plans or possibly bolster his trade value as other teams see his potential come to the surface.
Either way it serves no purpose for Williams to have “DNP-Coach’s Decision” next to his name in box scores at all if he is healthy, whether it falls on him to earn more playing time or Adelman to find ways to fit him into the mix.