Although he arrived in Tallahassee as a consensus Top 25 recruit in the country, Patrick Williams did not simply waltz into Leonard Hamilton’s starting lineup. Coming off the bench, Williams generated impressive production as part of the deepest lineup in the country; eleven players averaged at least nine minutes a game, including another lottery-pick hopeful, Devin Vassell. Nonetheless, when you turn on the Florida State film, it takes almost no time for Williams’ unique blend of size, skill, IQ and athleticism to figuratively jump off the screen.
Despite not cracking the starting lineup all season, Williams won ACC Sixth Man of the Year award, and garnered All-ACC Freshman honors, all while helping the Seminoles win the ACC regular-season championship. The youngster was an all-around contributor, playing 22.5 minutes per contest, and averaging 9.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game, with shooting splits of .459/.320/.838.
Forged in the same ecosystem that has produced local Charlotte, NC hoop legends: Kennedy Meeks, Jeff McInnis, and Curtis Withers, Williams, a West Charlotte High School standout, has, in my opinion, the biggest “star” upside of any wing in this draft class not named Anthony Edwards. If you’re wondering how a second-unit freshman forward with modest statistical achievements in college could possibly become a top-ten selection in the upcoming NBA draft, let me explain.
|Position:||Forward||Team/Class:||Florida State (Fr)|
|Wingspan:||7-2||Vertical:||32 inches standing, 39 max|
|Shot Hand:||Right||Stats:||Click here|
To address WIlliams’ lack of high-end statistics, you must first understand the environment: he forfeited some of his personal production, and instead, he accepted his duties as a cog in the machine that is the current state of Florida State basketball. FSU engulfs its opponents with endless depth and intense defensive pressure, and anything less than 100 percent effort is unacceptable to Coach Hamilton. No player averaged more than 13 points per game this season, and it’s rare for any Seminole to average more than 30 minutes a night (only senior Trent Forrest did that this season). For Williams to subject himself to an environment that involves intense competition for minutes and a high level of scrutiny and accountability is indicative of his work ethic and willingness to accept the laborious journey of becoming a productive NBA player.
Williams is widely considered a top-20 pick, which in my opinion, is still undervaluing him in this draft class. The determining factor for what Williams can become in the NBA hinges on the projectability of his shooting, which I am quite bullish on.
Although Patrick Williams shot only 32 percent from three-point land in his freshman campaign, there are indicators for optimism—starting with his mechanics. After watching all of his three-point attempts from this season, I observed that the freshman employs a set jump-shot with little wasted motion. These mechanics, coupled with his 6’8” frame and a high release point, make defenders contesting his shot inconsequential. He shoots a confident high-arching ball. There is data to support these claims—look no further than his lofty 83 percent from the free-throw line (62-of-74). If you buy into Williams’ shooting mechanics, his potential as a versatile NBA swingman looks limitless.
There are three elements necessary to diagnose a player’s ability to succeed at the next level: physical profile, statistical analysis, and the “eye test” (full-game reviews). I will certainly make a case for Williams from a statistical standpoint, but he truly shines with his physical profile and on film.
Williams is a fluid athlete that effortlessly puts pressure on the rim with a consistent diet of clever off-ball cutting, offensive rebounds, and spellbinding put-back dunks. There is something unquantifiable about the way certain athletes simply move on a basketball court, and however you choose to define that X factor, Patrick Williams has it.
Williams is not yet an advanced playmaker for his teammates, and shows reasons for concern regarding ball security (17.8 TO% in overall offense). Although he ranks well above average when shooting off the dribble, you could argue that he is forced by defenders to take midrange pull-ups too often. For now, Williams lacks the functionality as a ball handler to consistently get to the rim off the bounce, and needs to improve as a finisher when he does find himself around the basket. The freshman absolutely flashes an impressive handle at times, but he generally needs space to do so. As the third youngest player in the draft, I see him trending in a positive direction as a playmaker, but to ignore the concerns would be irresponsible.
On the positive side, the basketball does not stick in his hands, and Williams seems to grasp off-ball movement and overall offensive motion concepts. The youngster also enjoyed a more encouraging pick-and-roll analytical profile than even I would have anticipated, which points to some unearthed potential as a primary or second-side creator. With his physical profile, should Williams continue to progress as a playmaker, he fits the mold of a valuable 2-way wing that NBA GM’s are currently desperate for.
Defensively speaking, Patrick Williams does have some Jekyll-and-Hyde characteristics. His makeup of size, versatility and switch-ability is precisely what NBA front offices are looking for in today’s league. Williams has a conceivable future as a defender that can positionally cover the 2-through-4 spots, yet he also falls asleep off the ball at times, occasionally a half-second late on rotational responsibilities, which lead to avoidable baskets, and he also can be clunky when sliding laterally to check his assignment
Williams is just as likely to soar into the picture from out of frame to erase an opponent’s shot attempt at the rim in electric fashion, as he is to give up points on a routine back cut. Make no mistake, the tools are evident and visible for Williams to develop into a terrific NBA defender, but he will have to mature as a complete team defender and eliminate the mental mistakes that so many young players battle.
- An overall above-average half-court offensive efficiency profile (0.92 PPP, 72nd percentile)
- Solid off-ball cutter, which accounted for 15 percent of his offensive possession (1.12 PPP, 63rd percentile)
- Efficient jump-shooter of the dribble (0.86 PPP, 70th percentile, aFG 43%)
- Efficient medium (midrange) jump-shooter (0.84 PPP, 76th percentile, aFG 42%)
- Terrific PNR profile; when handling in the PNR, including passes, averaged 0.95 PPP (80th percentile, aFG 55%)
- Elite PNR defender (0.47 PPP allowed, 91st percentile)
- Very good free-throw shooter (83.8%)
- Makes instinctive defensive plays (3.6 steals+blocks per 40 minutes and a block percentage of 5.6 — 5th best in ACC)
- Solid maturity and basketball IQ as a young player
- Top-end athlete in terms of speed, size, length, and vertical
- Inefficient playmaker for teammates (A/T ratio of 0.58) and turnover prone (turnover% of 17.8)
- Struggles to get to the rim and finish on half-court drives; when driving, had just 18 attempts within seven feet, making 38.9%
- Surprisingly inefficient in transition (0.79 PPP, 17th percentile)
- Below average spot up shooter (0.75 PPP, 32nd percentile)
- Below average isolation defender (0.85 PPP, 35th percentile)
- Average overall defender (0.80 PPP, 59th percentile)
- Some reasons for concern in lateral movement, which shows up in defensive isolation data
Patrick Williams should not be overlooked due to his moderate raw statistics, and he projects well into the NBA as a multipurpose swingman that can likely bring defensive versatility as well. For the reasons and argument above, I will have Williams safely in the lottery.
Branscome’s Big Board will be posted at Hoops Prospects and http://whichcarolina.podomatic.net/ in the coming weeks.
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source. Photo by Mike Olivella, courtesy of Florida State Athletics.