Timberwolves make a statement and trade Derrick Williams for Luc Mbah a Moute

November 26, 2013

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has acquired forward Luc Mbah a Moute from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for forward Derrick Williams.  Williams is a former lottery pick from the University of Arizona who was the second overall selection in the 2011 NBA draft behind Kyrie Irving.

The book is still out on Williams as an NBA player, so it was somewhat surprising to see Minnesota jump ship so soon on such a skilled, high-upside forward.

Then again the Wolves seem to be transitioning from a young, losing lottery team to an improving team on the cusp of a playoff berth.

For the Wolves, getting a solid role player who can complement its stars not only could be a better overall fit, but also signals to its fans that this is a franchise looking to compete in the playoffs immediately, rather than in the distant future.

"We are excited to acquire a solid veteran player in Luc Mbah a Moute,” said Flip Saunders, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “Luc is known as one of the premier defensive players in the league with an ability to guard multiple positions. He adds a lot of energy, grit and a high basketball IQ to our team. We thank Derrick for his contributions to our organization and wish him well in Sacramento.”

Known as "The Prince" during his UCLA days, Mbah a Moute is a 6-8 forward who is one of the more underrated players in the NBA.  He is an elite and determined defender, with athleticism and feet quick enough to keep up with many 2's, and the strength to battle the league's 4's.  He has averaged 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game over parts of six seasons with Milwaukee and Sacramento.

Although his limited playing time over the years has curtailed his numbers somewhat, he is an above average rebounder for his natural position, the three.  Because of that ability to rebound and defend, Mbah a Moute can also play spot minutes at the 4 when necessary.

Offensively, he remains a work in progress, but on a Minnesota team with stars Kevin Love and Kevin Martin, he will not be asked to score much.  The trade also reunites Mbah a Moute with Love, as the bruising pair dominated the glass and led UCLA to a Final Four run in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Expect Mbah a Moute to initially come off the bench with Corey Brewer continuing to start.  Should the Wolves make the playoffs and get into a series, the Prince could be a real asset as the team's "glue guy" who can defend the opposing team's top scorer.

Meanwhile, Williams averaged 10.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game over 2-plus seasons with the Wolves. The 6-8 forward is averaging 4.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game this season.

Those pedestrian numbers should not cloud the fact that Williams has genuine offensive skills -- three point range coupled with the ability to score and finish in the paint.

Given such ability, he could develop into an excellent scorer, provided he can get more playing time.  Having Kevin Love starting ahead of him, coupled with his so-so defense and rebounding, has limited his time on the floor thus far.  Another issue has been trying to determine whether he is best suited playing at the 3 or the 4.

Now that he is in Sacramento, expect him to see more game action.

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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