I’m cautiously optimistic about this deal, but disappointed that it cost Sacramento a small forward who was looking like a solid starter.
First, the good—Sacramento is a rebuilding team, and taking a chance on a former No. 2 overall pick makes sense for them. Luc Mbah a Moute is an excellent defender and in the past week, he’s looked very solid as a starter. But his talented are better served on a winning team, where he can provide depth with his defense and rebounding. Luc wasn’t going to single-handedly win the Kings games, and when you’re rebuilding, a deal like this—swapping talent for potential—makes too much sense.
Derrick Williams didn’t fare well in Minnesota, and hopefully a fresh start can help. He wasn’t picked No. 2 overall in 2011 for nothing—he’s an excellent athlete and he’s got raw talent. We’ve also seen Rick Adelman lose patience with developing raw, position challenged youngsters (Gerald Wallace), and given what Mike Malone has managed to do with player development so far, I’m optimistic he’ll figure out exactly what to do with Williams.
Losing Mbah a Moute hurts, but again, it’s a loss a rebuilding team can take. The concerns are mainly about Williams potential.
The Timberwolves were desperate to move Williams, even for a role player with questionable knees. In Minnesota, he’s tried to play small forward and performed abysmally at it. He’s athletic enough to play the three spot, but his defensive awareness is far below average, and his jumpshot and 3-point range are not at the level they need to be.
I don’t think he’s the long-term fit at SF—he’s really an undersized power forward—but I trust Mike Malone’s ability to figure out roles. Given the Kings dearth of power forwards (Jason Thompson, Patrick Patterson, Carl Landry and Williams), I’ll trust they’re either confident that Williams CAN play SF, or they’re working hard to move another power forward.
In the end, the Kings made a deal with very little risk. If Williams is a miss, he’s a free agent in two years. If he’s a hit, then it pays off big time. It hurts to lose Luc, but trading a defensive role-player for a 22 year old former No.2 pick is just too good a deal to pass on.