Shams Charania of Stadium:
Grant Williams is a potential first-round pick. At just [correction: 20], he’s exceptionally young for a junior. Heck, he’s younger than most sophomores in this draft. He also has advanced basketball intelligence.
The power forward will have to play a different style in the NBA. At Tennessee, he often overpowered smaller players in the post. Considering Williams is just 6-foot-8 and not exceptionally athletic, that won’t fly at the next level.
But he has expanded a skill set that should translate.
He’s an excellent screener and good passer. If he can combine those skills by setting ball screens then passing on the move in 4-on-3 situations if his guard gets trapped – a la Green – that’d be great. Williams often passed at a standstill from the post and elbows at Tennessee.
Williams is an emerging, though unreliable, outside shooter. His mid-range shooting, free throws and work ethic suggest he’ll continue to improve.
Defense is the big question. Williams defended very well in college, thriving as paint protector and hustling further from the basket. But is he mobile enough to defend in space at the next level? Is he long/explosive enough to protect the rim in the NBA?
Though Williams and Green are the same height, Green has a wingspan more than three inches longer than Williams’ 6-foot-10 wingspan. Green also got into great shape once he turned pro, improving his athleticism. That allowed Green to become such a great defender despite facing similar questions as Williams entering the draft.
It can’t be assumed Williams will match Green’s impressive and rare athletic progress. Williams’ wingspan obviously isn’t getting significantly longer, either.
Green – while hawking his man and the ball – was also a strong defensive rebounder at Michigan State. Williams was merely pedestrian at that responsibility.
If he were clearly the next Green, Williams would be projected far higher in the draft. But there are definite similarities that should improve Williams’ stock after everyone missed on Green, who went in the second round.