Robert Williams was a prospect the Charlotte Hornets were intrigued by the same time last season. However, he decided to head back to Texas A&M because he wanted to, “give himself more time to mature and develop his game before moving on to the NBA.” This came as a shock as he was projected to be a top ten pick in the 2017 NBA draft. That “mature and development” that he sought to improve didn’t pan out the way he planned to, however. Between this year and last year, Williams averaged 1.5 fewer points and a minus twelve percent on his free throws per game. He did, however, improve on his rebounding as he grabbed one more board per contest.
Despite a somewhat stagnant sophomore season, the Hornets brought him back for a workout this weekend.
The main asset that Williams has is his size. At 6-10, 240 pounds, he has already modified his body to play big minutes early on, instead of taking time to grow muscle like most draft prospects would. This body physique has transformed him into a defensive stud. In college, Williams averaged a ridiculous 4.9 blocks per game per 40 minutes. Adding a 7-5 wingspan to his disposal, Williams gives opposing big man trouble every night, which earned him the SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors last year.
Besides defense, Williams has been able to be very successful on the rebounding end. Teams like the Charlotte Hornets before Dwight Howard need to have a big man who can grab rebounds on both ends of the floor at an efficient rate. If not, then that team is going to heavily rely on making as many baskets as possible without any rebounding help, which is never a great strategy. In two seasons, Williams averaged a very impressive 8.7 rebounds per game, including 2.7 on the offensive end. He did this averaging just 25 minutes per game.
Williams is also athletic. His speed and quickness allow him to become an easy target down low. Whether that’s by cutting or after generating screens, Williams has shown the ability to get by defenders and create opportunistic shot selections near the rim. The athleticism also allows Williams to become a great transition player. He can outrun most opposing frontcourt players down the court and allow himself for fastbreak opportunities.
Here’s a good example.
Williams’ main draw back is shooting. You would expect college big man, especially one who could go in the lottery, to have some sort of outside shooting ability. Yet the only true shooting that Williams displayed in his two years in college has been down low. He rarely shoots midrange shots and routinely passes them up. Even worse, he shot a total of 30 3-point attempts in his two seasons, making only two of them (6.7 percent).
His free throw shooting isn’t great either, as he only hit 47 percent from the line. The only sure source of offense for him is through the post. Granted, his moves are above average and did convert on a ridiculous 63 percent from inside this year. Even with those impressive post numbers, his lack of a total jump shot will greatly impact a team’s offense in a negative way until or unless he develops more range.
Williams reminds me of Phoenix Suns forward Marquese Chriss. Their builds are very matching with one another, and both display excellent signs of athleticism. Chriss’ 3-pointer hasn’t developed either as he shot just 30 percent from three while shooting 2.6 threes a game this year.
In total, what you get in Robert Williams who is a freakish athlete who can be an impactful defensive player. But outside of those two characteristics, his lack of a jump shot and free throw woes jeopardizes’ his longevity in becoming a successful NBA player.