RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Elliot WilliamsPosted by rtmsf on June 19th, 2010
Player Name: Elliot Williams
Height/Weight: 6’4, 180
NBA Position: Shooting Guard
Projected Draft Range: Late first round/Early second round
Overview: Elliot Williams’ college career began under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, where he played a very limited role early in his freshman year, before finally getting a starting nod towards the end of the season in a non-conference game against St. John’s. Williams brought an athleticism and defensive intensity that had been sorely missing from the Blue Devil lineup, and he proceeded to start ten of the remaining eleven games for Duke that season. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Williams’ mom developed cancer and following his freshman season, he announced that he would be transferring to Memphis to be closer to his family. After receiving an NCAA waiver, Williams played immediately for Memphis and averaged 18 points while playing 33 minutes a night for the Tigers. The lefty proved himself a capable go-to scorer for Memphis, as well as an excellent defensive presence, despite the Tigers missing the NCAA tournament.
Will Translate to the NBA: Williams has good size and long arms which, coupled with his athleticism and tireless motor, make him a disruptive defender. He is capable of both harassing opposing ballhandlers and chasing shooters through screens. With the ball, he has a quick, explosive first step and can get into the lane with ease, where he can score in a variety of ways ranging from a little floater to a spectacular finish above the rim. Williams’ handles are good enough for him to play both guard spots, although he is a more natural two, as most of his penetration offensively is intended to create opportunities for himself – the drive-and-dish does not come naturally to him.
Needs Work: First and foremost, Williams needs to develop his off hand. While he is excellent with his left hand, he is clearly uncomfortable going right, nullifying some of his explosiveness due to his offensive predictability. Secondly, while Williams’ shooting numbers increased dramatically in his sophomore season (he shot just 50% from the line and 25% from three as a frosh, bumped up to 76% and 37% respectively last season), he needs to develop a more consistent jumper. And finally, adding the ability to run a halfcourt offense would greatly improve his worth. While he is capable of driving past defenders, adding the ability to find teammates when help comes would give his already dangerous slashing style another facet.
Comparison Players: When Russell Westbrook came out of UCLA after his sophomore season, he was regarded in much the same way Williams is: excellent and sometimes amazing athlete, superb defender, questionable shooter, slightly undersized off-guard who would need to improve his ballhandling and passing in order to be able to play the point as a pro. Despite his limitations coming out of college, Westbrook has turned into a great young NBA point guard in two years, with plenty of upside still remaining. While Williams may not have quite the upside that Westbrook does, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see him as Westbrook’s lefty equivalent. Certainly Williams isn’t going anywhere near as high as Westbrook did when he was taken with the fourth pick in 2008, but the team that winds up with the 20-year-old late in the first round gets a guy whose skills have a chance to far exceed his draft position.
Best Case Scenario: Williams spends the next year or so developing a right hand and getting comfortable with his jumper, and by the time he is 22 he is ready for regular minutes on an NBA court, excelling in the open court and on defense while his offensive game steadily improves. By the time he is in his mid-20s, he’s getting starter’s minutes and scoring in double figures, even running some lead guard at times while popping up on NBA all-defensive teams and highlight reels.
2013 Projection: Realistically, in three years Williams is a contributor off the bench on a playoff caliber team, getting 15-20 minutes, defending the heck out of the ball, making big plays in transition and throwing down the occasional dunk over a big man. But, if Williams patches up his weaknesses, 2013 could just be the start of his progression towards an NBA starting role.
Best NBA Fit: Ideally, Williams would go somewhere in the first round to a team with a couple of veteran guards from whom he can learn, but also with a spot for him to come in and get a few minutes off the bench. Looking at the teams at the back of the first round, New Jersey looks like a good place: he can learn from Devin Harris and Courtney Lee, while still having a fighting chance at getting some minutes as a rookie. And, there’s always the chance that Mikhail Prokhorov can lure one of the several attractive free agents to New Jersey to make the Nets a viable team for Williams to grow with.
* Andrew Murawa contributed this draft profile to RTC