The Trail Blazers’ 2019-20 season is firmly in the rearview mirror and the 2020 NBA Draft is now on the horizon. As of now, the draft is scheduled for November 18. Unlike last year, the Blazers enter the process with two picks at their disposal. Portland currently owns the No. 16 pick in the first round and the No. 46 pick in the second round.
Today’s profile focuses on Florida State forward Patrick Williams. Portland needs a wing who can contribute on both ends of the floor, but is Williams the best option to fill that role, and will he be available at No. 16?
- Height: 6’8”
- Weight: 225
- Wingspan: 6’11”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: F
- Age: 19
- Projected draft range: 9-17
- PTS: 9.2 | Per 40: 16.4
- REB: 4.0 | Per 40: 7.1
- STL: 1.0 | Per 40: 1.8
- BLK: 1.0 | Per 40: 1.8
- FG%: 45.9
- 3P%: 32.0
- FT%: 83.8
Although Williams didn’t play a major role on Florida State’s team, he still illustrated what aspects of his game should translate to the next level. Offensively, his ability to attack closeouts and knock down midrange jumpers off the dribble is a rare trait among lengthy forwards. He has a high release point, allowing him to get shots up over contesting defenders. As Florida State’s tertiary scorer, Williams understands when to keep the ball moving and when to hoist up a shot. He’s a smart passer and dribbles with his head up, allowing him to find open teammates.
Defensively, Williams was the communicator for FSU’s zone. He’s an elite help defender who can contest shots both on the perimeter and in the paint with his length and quick jumping. Williams has big hands that supplement his 6’11” wingspan, two traits that help clog passing and cutting lanes.
Williams can shoot off the dribble, but he can’t catch and shoot on the move. He best supports the offense with standstill perimeter shooting or exposing cutting lanes. With the ball in his hands, Williams doesn’t have an elite first step and doesn’t accelerate well. He can’t consistently burst past bigger defenders with as much ease as one might hope given his other athletic traits. Plus, he often commits avoidable turnovers while handling the ball, like travels and offensive fouls.
On the other end, Williams resorts to turning and chasing ball handlers who get by him rather than containing them. He doesn’t have quick feet and can’t turn his hips smoothly. When guarding in space, smaller matchups can exploit that. He also falls for too many pump fakes, exacerbating his defensive shortcomings on the perimeter.
Despite being a top recruit, Williams came off the bench as Florida State’s sixth man. His coach, Leonard Hamilton, touted his humility and coachability when speaking about this decision. Still, Williams played a key part in the team’s switch-heavy zone defense as a communicator. Offensively, his role was limited to an off-ball cutter and spot up shooter. Possessions that involved Williams taking more than a couple dribbles typically came at the end of the shot clock or against a mismatch.
At the close of the shortened 2019-20 season, Williams was named ACC 6th Man of the Year and helped to Florida State go 23-3.
Spot up shooting and off-ball cutting are two skills that can quickly translate to the NBA. Williams won’t scare defenders with his 32 percent three-point shooting, but his high free throw percentage and sound mechanics hint at eventual improvement. If defenders close out poorly because of how much they sag off, he can still create a positive look for himself via a midrange pull up. And while his outside shooting must improves, he’ll have plenty of lanes to slice through for easy finishes at the rim.
Until he improves his hip mobility and foot speed, Williams won’t be able to contain guards effectively. His defensive acumen will benefit any team in scramble scenarios, but he’ll be restricted to guarding forwards almost exclusively for now.
Williams gained experience as a tertiary scorer with Florida State, so he understands when to keep the ball, an especially important skill when sharing the floor with scorers like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Those guards also create plenty of looks for their wings. Williams is already effective at getting to the rim, but he will need to up his three-point shooting percentage to capitalize on open looks from distance. No wing will get reliable minutes alongside Lillard and McCollum with below-average outside shooting.
On defense, the Blazers need an on-ball wing stopper. While Williams projects to be a plus-defender given his size, athleticism and IQ, he is better served as an off-ball rover than an isolation defender. The Blazers frequently find themselves in scramble situations though, an area Williams can help with.
Ultimately, Williams can quickly become a rotation player in the NBA if his three-point percentage rises, which numbers and mechanics project favorably in that direction. In a draft with a lot of question marks, getting the closest prospect to a sure thing outside of the lottery might be a smart road to take.