Jalen Williams has gone from being an unknown commodity to a possible lottery pick in the last month. Williams appears to become the first Santa Clara player to be selected in the first round since the Phoenix Suns drafted a minor guard named Steve Nash 26 years ago. This election seemed to turn out pretty well.
Williams wants to achieve a similar effect. He made a huge impression on NBA teams during the Scouting Combine where he showcased his shooting skills, basketball IQ and defensive versatility.
Santa Clara won 21 games last season and held their own against a strong WCC. Williams led the Broncos with 18.0 points and averages 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game last season.
Williams represents the modern NBA two-guard. Williams is tall, can shoot, put the ball on the ground and has length. However, Williams didn’t gain much exposure while playing in Santa Clara, so many NBA fans may not be familiar with what Williams can bring to the table.
Height: 6 feet, 6 inches
Weight: 209 pounds
Span: 7 feet, 2.25 inches
NBA Comparison: It’s really hard to compare Williams to a player. I see a bit of Dillon Brooks in him on offense. He is smart and clever. He also has the advantage of being the main pick and roll guy on an offense.
I can imagine him finding a niche in the mid-range, much like DeMar DeRozan. He does his job very well. Williams needs to build size and get stronger to become an NBA career starter. But if he can fill in his frame and improve his footwork, Williams has the skills to last in the NBA.
Passability, pick and roll
Passing and seeing were among the key jumps Williams made last offseason. Williams led the team in assists and had a class-leading assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.99. Williams played with a unique pace, often leading his team into halftime and finding open teammates. He showed the ability to pass with both hands.
Williams often took advantage of the attention of the defense and repeatedly found open cutters and scorers under the basket. William’s passing ability will allow him to be a threat at the next level pick and roll.
Three level scorer off ball screens
Williams was a stunningly efficient scoring off-ball screener last season. He was able to conquer the rim, hit tough middle-class jumpers and shot 39% from three last season. He showed agility and could effortlessly change speeds to get to his spots.
Williams has shown he can hit the embattled middle-class jumper. He’s a great finisher near the rim and can finish with both hands. His floater game is underrated. Williams can be a versatile and valuable scorer in the NBA as he continues to build a 3-point shot.
Areas for improvement:
Defense, rebounds, 3-point shooting
While his 7ft 2in wingspan is vital, Williams needs to hone his footwork and defensive instincts to become a true NBA starter. His 4.4 rebounds per game was a problem when he was the most athletic player on the floor in many of his games.
Williams needs to add some weight because he may not have the muscles to stop stronger strikers pushing him back. His lack of a quick breakout is a cause for concern. The Arizona native relied on his angles and length to hit the basketball.
Playing against NBA-level athletes with more athleticism and length will be a huge leap in competition. His jumper has improved dramatically over the past year, but we’ll see how that carries over from the NBA 3-point range.
Estimated Draft Range: 10-18
CBS Sports predicts Williams will join the Charlotte Hornets at #14 pick. He would fit perfectly here as a replacement for Terry Rozier in the shooting guard position.
However, I can imagine a team like the San Antonio Spurs taking a chance on Williams at pick #9 or trading back and getting him later. I also think he would complement the Chicago Bulls well by providing another pick and roll ball handler off the bench.