The Knicks have signed PF Derrick Williams. Williams was the #2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The 6’8 Williams, who played his college ball at Arizona, began his career with the Timberwolves before being traded to the Kings.
Williams possesses elite athleticism and great length. He is a very good finisher at the rim (70%) and is dangerous in transition, where he has the ability to blow by defenders and throw down highlight dunks (one of which is pictured above, against a solid defender in Bismack Biyombo). While he has the tools to be a good defender, he is mediocre on that end, due to inconsistent effort and faulty awareness. Williams is not a good jump-shooter, although, at 32% from 3, he could become a decent shooter for a forward if he can make a slight improvement (maybe around 37%).
Williams averaged 8 points and 3 rebounds per game in 20 minutes for the Kings last season.
Player Analysis: Williams has useful traits and obviously has upside, but he is by no means a bona-fide starter, and the Knicks could use more talent at the wing, preferably somebody who could shoot or defend, if not both. However, the Knicks do need players who can get to the basket, and Williams is one of those guys.
Contract Analysis: The Knicks will pay Williams $10M total over 2 years. Williams has a player option for the second year.
I really don’t like this contract. The Knicks had about $7.3M left in cap room, and they’re probably somewhere around $3M now, along with the $2.8M “Room Exception.” The Knicks needed another starting Forward (is this the guy?), a backup center, and probably a shooter and another PG. Williams gives them youth, athleticism, and slashing ability, so he has value. But they might have been able to do better with this money, or get Williams for less.
The thing that really bugs me here is the Player Option. Williams obviously has upside— he was the #2 pick in the draft just a few years ago. And the Knicks seemingly paid for that upside— overpaid, even. But let’s say Williams reaches that upside this year. Let’s say he plays well (not very well, but well). Let’s say he blossoms into a guy who can definitely be a starter. If that happens, Williams will opt out, and the Knicks will have to spend more than $5— perhaps well more, to retain his services next year.
That being said, the Knicks continue to acquire players who make this team better than it was last year. This roster is starting to shape up. It won’t be great, but it could be pretty good. There are still a few more moves to be made.