Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  By PHIL ERVIN  |  Last updated 9/23/13
This is the 11th in a 17-part series profiling each player on the Timberwolves' roster leading up to training camp. There may be no player with more on the line entering Timberwolves training camp this year than Derrick Williams. Money is a big part of it. The team has until Oct. 31 to decide whether or not to exercise its option on Williams' contract for 2014-15. If they keep him for the fourth year of his rookie deal, he'll receive a 1.3 million raise that likely puts Minnesota up near the luxury tax. But this goes way beyond the financial mumbo-jumbo. This is the best chance, so far, for Derrick Williams to prove he belongs. The 2011 lockout stunted his rookie growth. So did stepping in as the team's No. 1 power forward when Kevin Love went down last year -- Williams, his performance showed, wasn't ready. But when he heads to Mankato with the rest of his teammates next week, he'll be on the proving path. There are three ways for Williams to go: plateau, in which case his future looks as uncertain as his present (see below); convince the Timberwolves his game is worth their investment (new president of basketball operations Flip Saunders seems to think it is), or show well enough to lure another team into a trade (he's been mentioned as a candidate all offseason). At least part of the 6-foot-8, 243-pound forward's fate resides in his own hands. 2012-13 stats: 12 PPG, 24.6 MPG, 33.2 3-pt PCT, 5.5 RPG 2013 salary: 5,016,960 Last year: With Love missing 64 games last season, Williams got every opportunity to show he can make it as a stretch four in the NBA. Yet 56 starts and a full offseason later, the jury is still deliberating. Like many young players, Williams showed flashes during his second year in the league. There were games where he went off for more than 20 points. There were others in which he was barely noticeable. He has yet to establish a comfort level offensively, which caused him to hesitate often in his decision-making. He didn't shoot well enough from the floor -- 43 percent -- to turn a whole lot of heads. Williams did show he's agile enough to defend NBA athletes, but he's undersized for a power forward and doesn't present a physically imposed roadblock for more traditional, post-up big men. His rookie status hasn't done him any favors, either. Previous front-office head David Kahn drafted Williams second overall in 2011, guaranteeing him a hefty salary out of the gate and placing almost impossible expectations upon the good-natured kid out of Arizona. So when he looked so erratic last year, trade talk began to swirl. He'd fit better elsewhere, some said, after failing to establish himself as a four but not excelling when used on the wing his rookie year. He's another Kahn-era bust, others mused. Which brings Williams to next week. This year: Love is back. So is small forward Chase Budinger, and the Timberwolves added Corey Brewer to create substantial depth at the three position. Yet Saunders has said he'd like to try Williams at both forward spots. If new-look Minnesota's season falls somewhere in accord with plan and Love remains healthy, Williams isn't going to get No. 2-overall-pick-type minutes at the four. But if he can continue to grow his outside game -- his 3-point shooting actually improved significantly from his rookie year, and he possesses a smooth, fluid shooting motion -- and make better decisions with the ball, he just might fill the niche Saunders is hoping to create for him. It would appear the former Timberwolves coach is banking on it; while the team continues to deliberate Williams' future, Saunders strongly suggested last week they will, in fact, pick up his option. That, of course, could merely be to lock up what Saunders deems a valuable trade asset. But it also could present Williams more of a chance with the team that thought so highly of him two summers ago. From the front office: "Derrick hasn't lived up to that second pick in the draft. Now, part of it is his fault; you always have to take responsibility for yourself as a player. The biggest thing he has to do as an inside player: he misses a lot of easy shots. He plays small at the rim, and part of that is he doesn't locate the rim. It's almost like he shies away from some contact." -- Saunders on KFAN 100.3 Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving ate the Celtics’ heart during the second half of Game 4

NFL to reportedly bring back fun touchdown celebrations

Mike Trout explains why he doesn’t look at advanced stats

Reds’ Joey Votto shuts down heckler with “I remember when you used to be thin”

Rob Gronkowski gets new contract, chance to double salary

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Padres offering $99 ticket plan for five June wins or 16 June games – whatever happens first

Former Jets WR Devin Smith found out he was cut via Twitter

Roger Goodell tweets ‘Key & Peele’ joke about relaxed celebration rules

Martavis Bryant: ‘I know this is my last chance’

Glennon: ‘This is my year and I’m not worried about the future’

Durant apologizes for response to fans complaining about blowouts

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Best of Yardbarker: Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker