Injuries are a part of every NBA season. No team is immune and almost every player can fall victim to the injury bug. All-Star forward Kevin Love has been an injury casualty this season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but luckily Love being sidelined has benefited former top draft pick Derrick Williams.
Williams was looking every bit of a potential bust a season and a half into his NBA career after leaving Arizona and being selected second overall by the Timberwolves in 2011. Williams struggled to find a true role as a combo forward due to shooting struggles from the perimeter and a lack of size to be effective in the post. It was beginning to look like Williams wasn’t worth his lofty draft position.
But with Love injured, Williams has started to show promise as a versatile starting forward. Williams has averaged 14.7 points and seven rebounds while playing 30 minutes per game in 29 games as a starter, and has seemed to look more comfortable on the court with the increase in minutes.
Williams has looked even more impressive since the All-Star break. In the Timberwolves 14 games after the break so far Williams has put up more than respectable averages of 17.9 points and 7.6 rebounds — including a career high 28 Sunday against the New Orleans Hornets — while shooting .449 from the field, notably higher than his career percentage of .419.
Whether or not the Timberwolves will be able to keep both Williams and Love long term still remains a question mark. Love is the clear superior player and will be the starter when healthy, while Williams looks more and more like a starting quality player with each passing game. The Timberwolves may be forced to part with one of the forwards before too long, and no matter if it’s in Minnesota or elsewhere Derrick Williams is proving his worth when given the opportunity.