Found April 25, 2012 on Fox Sports North:
MINNEAPOLIS The NBA lockout stole Derrick Williams' rookie season. There were a lot of ways he could have reclaimed it: better shooting, more attentive defense, even a vague hint of consistency. Williams is certainly to blame for at least part of his struggles this season, but there's no getting around what the lockout took from him. The second overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Arizona, the 6-foot-8 Williams generated excitement the minute he first put on that Minnesota Timberwolves baseball cap in Newark, N.J., on June 23. But just eight days later, the lockout began, preventing Williams from working with the Timberwolves during the summer, cutting his first season to 66 games, his first training camp to two weeks. Those are tough breaks, but they don't excuse Williams' inability to even once string together two consecutive 20-point games. In fact, he never had a streak of more than four double-digit scoring games on his way to averaging 8.9 points and 4.8 rebounds with one game remaining in the season. That's seventh-best among rookies in points and fifth-best in rebounds not bad, but not what a team expects out of No. 2 pick. "He's had his moments, but I think the biggest thing is we'd like him to be much more consistent, game in and game out," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. So, yes, Williams needs to take a certain level of responsibility for the level of play he reached or didn't reach this season. But at the same time, he finds himself in a unique position going into the summer. The Timberwolves do not have a draft pick that befits the league's 10th-worst team that pick now belongs to New Orleans and though they have Utah's first-round pick, they won't have a shot at the lottery. Williams, in turn, gets his first summer to work out with the team and have a full-length training camp, in some ways his true rookie offseason. He has something close to another shot at a debut season, almost a second chance under far more normal circumstances. Of the Timberwolves' rookies, Williams was hit the hardest by the terms of this season. Ricky Rubio had been a professional for the good part of a decade, and he knew the rigors of playing at a level similar to the NBA. Malcolm Lee, a second-round pick who already was subject to far less pressure than Williams, had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee before the season. With that, his rookie year was altered, but by something unrelated to the lockout. Williams, though, seemed poised to be a breakout player, and he still might be. When the season ends, he'll head to California, this time with assistant Coach Bill Bayno in tow. He hopes to refine his game, both offensively and defensively, and to learn how to better guard small forwards. That's why having a shooting guard in Lee living close to him and working with him will be helpful; Lee can work on facing bigger players like Williams, who will in turn benefit from matching up against Lee's smaller size and speed. "Like a lot of rookies, he just hasn't had it, and I think maybe the summer, not being able to do anything all summer, not even seeing him until we started that probably had something to do with it," Adelman said. "The summer's going to be a big item for him." The highest praise Adelman can give Williams right now is that he's had his moments. There's a lot left to be desired for the 21-year-old forward, and there's no way he's deaf to the criticism. But somehow he remains as optimistic as a player who's had a far better year. It's less puzzling than encouraging, a sign that he hasn't lost hope in living up to the projections of a year ago. Williams said that coming into this season, he wanted to help the team win 10 more games than it did last year. On Tuesday, he said he'd achieved that goal, an assessment yielded either by questionable math skills or utter confidence in a win Thursday. Regardless, Williams doesn't feel like this season has been a loss, and he knows what he needs to do this summer to earn his second chance to stand out. It's a situation where if he fails again to improve opinions will be formed, but if he does indeed take his play to a higher level, the excuses of 2011-12 will become reasons and explanations. For now, Williams said, he's going to follow Kevin Love's example. He's going to try yoga and attempt to train as hard as his older teammate always has. It's something he demands of himself and sees as natural; both were high draft picks, after all, and Williams looks up to Love. Following in his footsteps, though, won't be easy. "I just hope he can last through a week of what I do," Love said. "It's a complete commitment." Love may have been joking but only to an extent. He's improved his game in increments, bit by bit with hard work, and that's the approach Williams needs to take going forward. If he's going to get something of a second chance next season, he can't look for a miracle. Williams has less than six months until reality sets in both the welcome reality of a normal season and the slightly more terrifying realization that he's not going to get another pass. Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.

Miller gets emotional during final game

All 17 people in attendance at the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Denver Nuggets game on Thursday night gave Brad Miller a standing ovation as he checked out of his final NBA game in the 4th quarter. Miller was greated with pounds and bro hugs by his teammates and soon after that, Miller was reduced to tears on the Timberwolves bench. Miller will always be remembered for having Shaq...

Final game was a metaphor for Wolves' year

MINNEAPOLIS With just more than six minutes remaining in Thursday's 131-102 Timberwolves loss, Michael Beasley tossed a pass to Brad Miller as the two ran down the court. The only problem? Miller wasn't looking, and Beasley didn't seem to notice. It was a fitting move in a game like Thursday's, the Timberwolves' final game of the season and their worst deficit...

Niesen: Wolves gave glimpes of a bright future

MINNEAPOLIS Thursday night, the book closed on the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2011-12 season. The statistics are final, the record set. There's no longer a chance at redemption, no further opportunity for failure. But the resolution isn't there. It's over, but there are things left hanging, the questions of what could have happened, even what should have. It's a...

Miller helped Adelman sell offense to Wolves

MINNEAPOLIS In Minnesota, he's known for plaid shirts and flat-brimmed hats, for the plastic bags of soda and water he totes out of the Target Center after most games. He's imposing in his silence, and when he laughs, it's hard not to wonder what joke you've missed. Brad Miller might seem like an enigma, but he's not. He's a personality. After 14 seasons...

Adelman backs Barea: People should get mad

MINNEAPOLIS After Sunday's 93-88 Timberwolves' loss to Golden State one that saw the Timberwolves up 55-34 at the end of the second quarter J.J. Barea was frustrated. Just 10 months removed from a championship in Dallas, perhaps Barea's unfamiliarity with consistent losing pushed him to say what he said. Or maybe he's just independently competitive; maybe it takes...

Adelman supports Barea speaking up with T-Wolves

Rick Adelman says he did not have a problem with J.J. Barea's comments that some Minnesota Timberwolves didn't care enough after a recent loss. Without naming names, Barea blistered some teammates after the Wolves blew a 21-point lead and lost to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. The veteran guard said there weren't enough players in the locker room who cared about...

Minnesota Timberwolves “luck” might be turning around?

I know the last few years have been down-right dreadful for fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Our last few draft picks (Wes Johnson and Derrick Williams) haven’t panned-out, so far or yet. But, Ricky Rubio brought a spark this season before his ACL injury. He lit-up Target Center with his maestro passing skills and non-matador-esque defensive ability that most of his teammates...
Timberwolves 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!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.