The Cavs have made several roster moves in the last few weeks. This includes adding two guys during that span that have had the same nickname. Derrick Williams and Deron Williams have both gone by the seemingly common name of “D-Will” during their playing careers. Obviously, there can’t be two guys in the same locker room with the same name, so one of them is going to have to give it up. Even though Derrick showed up in Cleveland a few weeks before Deron and has been referred to as “D-Will” since his first day with the team, it seems like he will have to give up the nickname because of seniority.
LeBron said Deron gets to keep the name because he’s been around the league longer. In an interview with Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan, Cavs GM, David Griffin, said that Deron will go by D-Will, and he has been referring to Derrick as “D-Big” since Deron signed.
Now that we know Deron gets to keep his nickname, the real question becomes which of the two will have a larger impact on the team for the rest of the season? Both of the guys bring a very different skill-set to the table and affect the game in ways that the other one cannot. First, I’m going to take a look at Deron Williams. Deron is going to fill the role of facilitator/playmaker with the second unit for the rest of the season. He already had seven assists in each of the last two games and played only 17 and 27 minutes. He is a five-time all-star that can be the instant leader at point guard that the second unit has been sorely lacking up to this point.
Coach Lue can trust him to run the offense and not feel like he has to have Kyrie or LeBron on the court at all times. This could lead to Lue being able to sometimes rest both of his primary ball-handlers at the same time without having the whole unit look dysfunctional and go through long scoring droughts. Deron also has a lot of experience and has played in many different situations, but for the most part, he has been the primary ball-handler as the starting point guard of whatever team he has been a part of. That is an advantage over any team in the NBA. No other team can turn to a guy of Deron’s caliber to run their second unit, and many of them don’t even have someone as good as him as their starting point guard. He is someone that could play with Kyrie and LeBron in a small lineup at times to help facilitate and pass, but he also shoots well enough to be a floor-spacer.
The downside to Deron is the fact that his defense is not the greatest. He has never been an elite defender, but his ability on the offensive end has made up for it. He is also getting older and is not quite as quick as he used to be. Putting him on the floor with guys who can guard multiple positions like Iman Shumpert, Derrick Williams, or LeBron could help hide him a little bit defensively, and the offensive stability he brings to the second unit will be invaluable.
Derrick Williams has a much different game than Deron. He is a long, versatile wing who can play and guard multiple positions. The big advantage he gives is the fact that he is tall and strong enough to guard post players but also quick enough to guard point guards. He can switch onto almost anyone which allows for a lot of flexibility on the defensive end. He can also be used to defend someone at another position, so a weaker defender can be hidden on a player who is not as much of an offensive threat.
He can definitely score on the offensive end, but he does not really create a lot for others. He either uses his great athletic ability to get to the rim or gets into good position to score when guys like LeBron and Kyrie create for him. He has also shown the ability to energize the second unit and help keep the energy up when the starters are resting. Derrick has not flourished and settled in as a dominant two-way player the way Minnesota had hoped when they drafted him with the second selection of the 2011 draft, but he has definitely been effective in his role with the Cavs.
If I had to choose a more valuable D-Will right now, I would have to go with the one who was able to retain the nickname. Deron’s experience, leadership, and ability to run an offense fill a hole that has been plaguing the Cavs’ second unit all season. He gives the Cavs’ backcourt an added dimension and should provide more opportunities for LeBron and Kyrie to get some rest before the playoffs. Deron’s role will continue to be very important throughout the rest of the regular season and through the playoffs.
While Derrick’s energy and versatility are very valuable, he will probably see his role diminish some when JR Smith and Kevin Love return from injury. However, if the Cavs have a rematch with the Warriors in the NBA Finals, Derrick could end up having a bigger impact. I could definitely see him being an X-factor with his ability to guard guys like Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, and Andre Iguodala while also making them expend energy trying to keep up with him on the offensive end.