The addition of Derrick Williams gives the Cleveland Cavaliers a new level of versatility. They’re now able to play small-ball bully-ball.
In the second unit, Derrick Williams was in a lineup with the “old guys” (Channing Frye, Kyle Korver and Richard Jefferson and LeBron James as the Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Denver Nuggets last night.
Within that lineup, Tyronn Lue had to have realized that general manager David Griffin stumbled across another diamond in the rough.
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Williams, who guarded every single position and did it well, is a player that is as versatile as James himself on that end. That effectively gives the Cavs two players who can switch onto every position without trouble.
Two ultra-athletic players to fly around “the old guys” defensively and compensate for their lack of individual defense. Old guys that, because of their combined 41 seasons of experience, know exactly what they need to do defensively in order to succeed so they play it called great team defense.
“The old guys” do all the little bumps and nudges necessary to throw of an opponents timing and get under their skin. They’re far from rookies to the game and so they play defense with the confidence and certainty of experienced players. If they get beat on the perimeter, it’s rarely because they didn’t rotate to the right player or because they didn’t position themselves between the ball and the rim well enough to prevent themselves from being blown by on the perimeter.
When lane penetration occurs or a shot isn’t contested, the reason is more than likely because of their athletic limitations.
Limitations that seem less debilitating with the athleticism of James and Williams beside them.
The duo of James and Williams will be able to play beside any three players and offer them versatility, athleticism and Williams’ three mantras: energy, effort and efficiency.
Replace Korver with J.R. Smith, Frye with Kevin Love and Jefferson with Iman Shumpert and the results are the same, in theory.
A lineup that can outrun, out-rebound and, most importantly, out-shoot the opponent no matter who they put on the floor without much concern about switching.
Kyrie Irving and Kay Felder are the only players the Cleveland Cavaliers have below 6-foot-5 but even if either player was in at point guard, the Cleveland Cavaliers could still choose to have four other players that are 6-foot-7 and above. They’ll still have enough versatility and athleticism in that lineup to be the bullies on the small-ball block.
Imagine a lineup with Irving, Williams, James, Love and Tristan Thompson or Irving, Smith, James, Williams and Love or even a lineup with Irving, Smith, Korver, James and Williams.
The small-ball possibilities are endless. Lineups that will be stout defensively, dominant on the boards and still have elite shooting. Lineups that will get out and run as much as possible.
Last night, when Williams was in the game, the Cleveland Cavaliers looked like the only thing they were missing was a backup point guard.
Williams filled in all the areas in the paint defensively.
There’s no need for a mobile big that can help protect the rim anymore because Williams does that for the team with intelligent and energetic defense.
That James already wants the Cavs to extend Williams’ contract is telling, as James is notoriously fixated on winning NBA championships in the final stretch of his career. Williams isn’t just a player that, at 25-years-old, can help the Cavs in the future. He can possibly be a backup to a former first overall pick in James who came into the league with a similar skillset this season.
At the very least, he gives the Cavs a new level of versatility that will allow them to put their biggest, best and most athletic players on the floor.
Williams is averaging 9.5 points per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers on 83.3 percent shooting from the field with just two games left on his current 10-day contract.