The Trail Blazers memorable postseason run might be over, but the the 2019 NBA Draft is right around the corner. Portland’s President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey currently has the No. 25 pick in the draft at his disposal and he will look to supplement the Blazers’ roster with a talented prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Today we look at the potential upside of Tennessee power forward Grant Williams.
- Height: 6’7”
- Weight: 241
- Wingspan: 6’11”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: PF
- Age: 21
- Projected draft range: 17-32
- PPG: 18.8 | Per 40: 23.6
- REB: 7.5 | Per 40: 9.4
- AST: 3.2 | Per 40: 4.0
- STL: 1.1 | Per 40: 1.4
- BLK: 1.5 | Per 40: 1.9
- FG%: 56.4
- 3P%: 32.6 (15/46)
- FT%: 81.9%
Considering Williams was a two-time SEC Player of the Year, it is clear there is a lot to like about his potential in the NBA. He has a versatile skill set that covers for his lack of height. Offensively, Williams ran Tennessee’s offense through the post. Armed with a 240-pound frame, he routinely got into the middle of opposing defenses and made the right decisions once he got there. Williams plays through contact on his way to the rim, and once he’s there, he does an excellent job of getting to the free throw line. His work at the charity stripe has improved dramatically. He converted 67 percent of his free throws as a freshman and blossomed into an 80 percent shooter in his final year with the Volunteers. Williams’ touch at the free throw line should allow him to expand his range at the next level.
Defensively, he filled a variety of roles for the Volunteers. He has shown value as a help defender. His 6-foot-11 wingspan allows him to defend opponents of all sizes and his defensive instincts put him in position to make momentum-shifting plays.
As a shooter, Williams has yet to expand his range to the three-point line. To maximize his value, he will need to keep defenses honest by spacing the floor. Obviously, there are concerns about his size. Williams is a 6-foot-7 power forward who would struggle to cover wings on a play-by-play basis in the NBA. Outside of defensive limitations, his low-post game loses effectiveness when facing traditional big men.
Williams added to his storied career with Volunteers with a run to the Sweet 16 in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Williams’ best outing came in a thrilling overtime victory over Vanderbilt. In the victory, the North Carolina native exploded for 43 points. His partnership with Admiral Schofield will live on in Tennessee’s basketball lore for years to come.
Williams is a jack of all trades—capable of producing in multiple roles. His lack of size and athleticism are noteworthy, but aren’t insurmountable. For example, Rockets forward PJ Tucker has overcome physical limitations to play bigger than his measurements. Thanks to his blue-collar work ethic and basketball IQ, Williams will have a home in the NBA. His less-than-ideal measurements push him out of the lottery conversation, but his fundamentals make him an attractive option for teams selecting late in the first round.
Barring something drastic, Williams will fall in the range that Portland will be picking in. If he’s around at No. 25, he’s definitely worthy of the Blazers’ attention. If his shooting range expands, he becomes a valuable player on both offense and defense. He has the tools to excel as a reserve big man, or even a starter when paired with the right center. If the Blazers’ frontcourt undergoes a massive changeover, Williams has the experience to compete for minutes immediately.
Do you want to see Williams in a Blazers jersey next season? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.