Whether he goes pro this year or next, Arizona forward Derrick Williams will eventually find himself looking for a position at the NBA level.
At Arizona, Williams played mostly as a center, occasionally stepping outside or sliding to the power forward slot. So the looming question becomes this: Where does the 6-foot-8, 240 pound forward play in the NBA?
There's not an easy answer for a few reasons.
Williams is a tweener, simply put.
He probably has the wingspan of a 6-foot-10 player and showed this year that he has the ability to put on some weight. Still, teams like USC, with Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic, both legitimite NBA-sized centers, took it to Williams on the defensive end.
Even Oregon State sent out bruiser Joe Burton to put Williams in a tough position on the defensive end.
And where he struggles against bigger players on offense, the best parts of Williams' game comes on the high post. The vast majority of his points were scored in the paint or at the foul stripe, and he got those points with a face-up game similar to that of Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire (though Williams doesn't nearly have the strength to finish at the rim as Stoudemire).
Getting to the line won't be as easy in the NBA. The lack of Williams' ability to finish with a hook shot -- see Tristan Thompson's block at the end of the NCAA second round game that should've sealed it for the Texas Longhorns -- is a huge problem in the NBA. Getting his shot off will be hard, and that makes you think Williams will find more success as a small forward.
But then you question his abilities from the perimeter. Coach K called Williams the second best ball handler on Arizona's team after the Wildcats beat Duke in the Sweet 16, but that came because Duke's plodding centers were guarding Williams and sinking down on him, giving him the airspace to dribble. Yes, his jump shooting is coming along, but to score points he'll need to be much more liberal in his shot selection to make an immediate impact.
On defense, can you imagine Williams guarding Carmelo Anthony or Rudy Gay? He's not the explosive athlete unless he can load up for a dunk, and he doesn't have the horizontal quickness to stay in front of smaller players, nor the footspeed to keep up with them in transition.
In the end, Williams will turn out fine no matter which decision he makes. He's a hardworking kid, and he's smart. That's the reason he's taking so much time to think this NBA Draft tempation over. He knows he has much to work on to become a successful NBA player. Sitting on the bench won't help him do that.
Winning at Arizona next season would, even if it doesn't help his draft stock.