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Who's #1?: The Case for Derrick Williams

Tue, 05/24/2011 - 12:17pm

Last week we witnessed Dan Gilbert and his adorable son luck up and score the 1st and 4th overall picks in the NBA draft lottery. Keep in mind the term "luck up" is fairly relative, considering we aren't even a year removed from the festivities in South Beach. Anyway, possessing two of the top four picks in a draft will be mighty useful for the rebuilding efforts of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Derrick Williams / Photo: Icon SMIDerrick Williams / Photo: Icon SMIAs we approach draft month, there appears to be two prospects worthy of that first overall pick. Derrick Williams of the University of Arizona and Kyrie Irving of Duke. Though either player would be useful for a team that won only 19 games last season, there will be a lot of pressure for the Cavs to make the most of this year's draft. They can do exactly that by selecting Derrick Williams with the first pick in the 2011 NBA draft.

The general consensus throughout the media is that Kyrie Irving is the top talent in the draft, and the fact that he refused to take part in the athletic testing in last week's combine suggests that he's buying into that. The idea that seems to be in his -- or more likely his agent's -- head that he has nothing left to prove. Scouts actually feel the exact opposite. Irving played well in the 11 games he participated in this season, but a team cannot be comfortable drafting a kid with the first overall pick based on his performance in one very injury-plagued season. Refusing to test with the rest of the players may fuel questions about what he could be trying to hide. He measured in at over 10% body fat. Is he out of shape? Foot injuries are very painful to play basketball with. Has he not fully recovered?

Then there's a worry that he could be injury-prone in the long-term. It's hard to live up to being the number one pick in the draft if you can't get on the floor. A promising sign was when he returned to the Blue Devils to play in the NCAA tournament after missing three and a half months with that pesky big toe injury, however during their eventual loss to (who else?) Derrick Williams and the Arizona Wildcats, many spectators were left with the impression that Irving was playing for himself instead of his team.

Fans also felt that he hurt the team's chemistry it had built, and that his style of play conflicted with ACC Player of the Year Nolan Smith's. Irving is undoubtedly a great prospect, but there is some cause for concern in drafting him.

Williams is considered the safer pick. The uber-efficient scorer has great size and strength for either forward position and a game that will translate seamlessly to the NBA. Unlike Irving, Williams played two months with a broken finger on his shooting hand and still shot an unreal 59.5% from the field, 56.8% from behind the arc and 74.6% from the stripe. Players who can play through injuries are valuable, but players who can perform through injuries are something else entirely.

The sheer-efficiency Williams plays with would be more than welcome in Cleveland, as the Cavs finished 29th in the NBA in FG% with a mere 43.4%. He would be a great presence at the free-throw line, as he averaged over 8.7 free-throws attempted a game. Players that excel at drawing fouls can throw off the other team's ability to play defense by getting them in foul trouble while simultaneously putting easy points on the board with the clock stopped. Williams has also proven to be a very clutch player, coming up with a game-saving block against Washington, another last second block against a potential game-tying shot in the NCAA tournament against Memphis, and then a game-winning three-point play in the very next game against Texas.

Derrick Williams / Photo: Icon SMIDerrick Williams / Photo: Icon SMIWhile Williams would fit right into the Cavaliers team, Irving would have a few hurdles in his way. Ramon Sessions and Baron Davis are by no means franchise point guards, but the Cavs have committed $37,609,599 to the two through 2013. Both players were actually producing a bit as well.

After the Baron Davis trade (which actually netted them the pick in discussion), the Cavs showed signs of fairly significant improvement. They were 10-47 (.175) at the time the trade was made, but in games played after that they were 9-16 (.360). In games that Davis played in, that number improves to 6-9 (.400) and in games that he started the Cavs were 4-5 (.444). Certainly nothing to jump about, but interesting nonetheless.

Surely Irving would be an improvement over either Sessions or Davis (especially in the long-term), but Williams measured with legit size for a power forward (6’8.75” with a 7’1.5” wingspan and a 9’0” standing reach) with the mobility and athleticism of a small forward. The versatility he provides would add to whatever -- if anything -- the Cavs have now, while Irving would force somebody either out of position or out of the rotation all together.

My previous argument aside, it's clear that the Cavs need help at every position, including at point guard. But maybe they don't have to select Irving to find one. It's possible that Kentucky guard Brandon Knight could fall to their second pick at 4. Knight would make a lot of sense next to Williams. The two could help change the franchise into a fast-paced team that combines intelligence and leadership with explosive scoring ability.

Many people believe Knight will be a franchise point guard someday and some even think he's a better prospect than Irving. Right now, his biggest flaw is the question that surrounds his "true point guard" ability. At Kentucky he had to be a shoot-first player, and even throughout high school he was known as a scorer first and a passer second. Yet this flaw could actually end up benefitting the Cavaliers in the short term.

Brandon Knight stands over 6'3" in shoes with a wingspan of nearly 6'7" and is known for being a tough defender. In his first few seasons, Knight could scoot to the shooting guard position at times and play alongside Sessions and Davis. There will be little pressure for him to create for his teammates in his first few seasons; instead he could play to his strengths as he becomes accustomed to life in the NBA. Assuming that Irving and Kanter are off the board, nobody makes as much sense here as Knight. UConn PG Kemba Walker is also an option here.

A Williams/Knight draft would be a great start to the rebuilding process for Cleveland as the duo is both heady enough to contribute right away, yet young enough to improve significantly. By drafting Irving they are taking several risks, including the possibility that the second player they would covet in Enes Kanter wouldn't be available at 4. Drafting Williams with the first overall pick is smarter, safer, and the right decision for the Cavaliers.

Also See: Who's #1?: The Case for Kyrie Irving

OhCanada-
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Somebody seems to be watching

Somebody seems to be watching the forums...I agree with this article. For Knight may not be much worse then Krie at all, especially with Kyries lack of athletisism and size we do not know how his game will translate to the NBA. Even guys like Brandon Jennings, Deron Collison and Jrue Holiday are just considered average athletes and Kyrie is not quite that level of an athlete. With Derrick Williams you get the obvious top Forward in the draft and you get to select Knight who is a shade from being away Kyries level. Yet there will be alot of negative feedback from Cavs fans if Williams and Knight do not perform well, so picking Kyrie and whatever falls to them (the safe option) maybe the route they take.

sammm192
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Other Option

Cavs swap picks with Minnesota for Darko Milicic. Minnesota trades first pick to Miami for Chris Bosh. Miami picks Irving. Cavs get Williams and Knight as well as another chance for Milicic. Minnesota has awesome frontcourt with Bosh and Love. And Miami has new big 3 and more cap space to land a big. Everyone wins!

NashyMing
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^^^^^^ Not enough balls

^^^^^^ Not enough balls between Wade, LBJ, and Kyrie to work. With Wade and LBJ handling the ball so much, Brandon Knight is actually a better fit as they need a PG that can shoot and defend.

NYFLAVA2K9
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Agreed

Even though I feel Irving may be the best player long term, I say take DW.. If you don't then you risk him and Kanter being gone by the 4th pick and if that happens then the Cavs are forced to reach for Leanord,Vesely, OR even Knight to pair with Irving. The latter being known simply as the "Kahn" move.. And we all know how popular that is when your in a rebuilding state.

ecuhus
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Irving >>> Knight

Fit is not a concern, if you're deciding between these two guards. And of ALL the things to throw out there as reasons to take Brandon over Kyrie, seriously, defense and shooting?!?!?!

Brandon Knight - 42% FG, 38% 3PT, 80% FT, 0.7spg, 0.2bpg

Kyrie Irving - 53% FG, 46% 3PT, 90% FT, 1.5spg, 0.5bpg

But if the "Heatles" ever got a hold of Irving, you might as well call off the season.

PurpleMonkeyDis...
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Nice article Tyler...

Yet another fine effort from you.

PlayDog7
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Crack head

If you think Brandon Knight is as good or has as much potential as Kyrie then that is what you are. Ok, that is a little harsh but seriously if you've watched both their games its almost not comparable.

magicfan
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Best Player Long Term

I can't help but feel as though when it is all said and done, neither Irving nor Williams will be remembered as the top player from this draft class. If they can both stay healthy, I haven't seen or heard anything that leads me to think that either will go down as busts. But I also did not see anything from either of them that screamed "Super Star!"

I would not be surprised if one of these developing, relatively unknown but high potential Euro guys ends up surpassing these two.

mds0549
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BW to MN

I want MN to get Williams and trade Beasley, Flynn and 20 to GSW for Ellis. Sign Rubio

Rubio

Ellis

Williams

Love

Darko

NIXIT1
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Best Case

Latest rummer has Cavs landing the #2 pick in a 3 team trade w/Mini & Pistons. Cavs absorb Rip H. contract into their $14.9 Mill. trade exception and inturn get Pistons #8 pick, then they forward their #4 & that #8 to Mini for #2. Also noted was that they would buy Rip out so he can sign w/Bulls. It is speculated that at that point the Cavs would take Irving & Williams 1 & 2. However, I say take Williams & Kanter the with their 1st pick in the 2nd round take Noris Cole PG from Cleve. St.. B.D. & Sessions will be fine for one more year and your front court is now set for years to come.

JackMelf
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good

Mind blowing posts and articles all ’round. Keep it going.

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NYFLAVA2K9
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^^^^ posted a week before

^^^^ posted a week before this current mock came out..

hath80
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While Williams would fit

While Williams would fit right into the Cavaliers team, Irving would have a few hurdles in his way. Ramon Sessions and Baron Davis are by no means franchise point guards, but the Cavs have committed $37,609,599 to the two through 2013. Both players were actually producing a bit as well. mp4 to dvd, itunes to dvd

vcelts123
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brandon knight played the

brandon knight played the whole season. irving played for 11 games. and we're not saying he's better than irving. we're saying that knight and willliams is a better duo than tristan and irving.

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