If I were an NBA decision maker, I’d use the second round to target players with definitive traits that should translate to the NBA. Then we’d try to build off that skill to turn them into productive contributors. Jaylin Williams is one such player with traits that set him apart from other prospects that will be available in the second round. If he falls to the Hornets pick at 45, he’d be a very tempting pick.
Height: 6’8.75” w/o shoes, 6’10” in shoes
Weight: 237 pounds
Standing reach: 9’0.5”
Vertical: 24” no step, 30” maximum
Defensive instincts, passing ability
Williams’ appeal starts with his unique characteristics as a defender. He doesn’t block a ton of shots (1.4 per 40 minutes), but he generates a pretty impressive-for-a-big 1.6 steals per minute. But perhaps most importantly, he draws charges. A Twitter account was set up exclusively to track how many charges he took last season, and the final count was 54, with a 55th coming in the NBA Draft Combine scrimmage. That’s an absurdly high number. For reference, the NBA leaders in charges drawn last season were Blake Griffin and Kevin Love with 26 apiece.
His ability to draw charges shows his defensive anticipation. He cuts off driving angles and is very quick to react and step in front of drivers.
Jaylin Williams Charge Counter: 52 #IntuitionHoops— Intuition Hoops (@IntuitionHoops) March 25, 2022
@JCHoopsPod @Sam_Vecenie @bjpf_ @The_NBAAnalyst @Raheem14DC @pinto479 @MSchindlerNBA https://t.co/6fGpurYLtr pic.twitter.com/0HlZVRaFET
Having that kind of presence around the basket can be just as strong a deterrent as having a shot blocker. We just saw the Miami Heat have one of the league’s best defenses thanks in part to them drawing 111 charges over the course of the season (second most in the league was Houston with 64).
He also does a good job on the defensive glass and hauled in 12.4 rebounds per 40 minutes as a sophomore. He positions himself well and works hard, which is sums up just about everything he does on the defensive end of the floor. He finished with a strong +5.2 Defensive Box Plus-Minus and ranks second best in the draft class in this defensive regularized adjusted plus-minus:
Best defenders— The Box and One (@TheBoxAndOne_) May 28, 2022
Chet Holmgren (7.18)
Jaylin Williams (5.62)
Tari Eason (5.61)
Walker Kessler (5.48)
Kennedy Chandler (5.46)
Darius Days (5.39)
Vince Williams (5.14)
Jake LaRavia (4.98)
Paolo Banchero (4.44)
On offense, Williams has unique passing ability for a big. He averaged 3.2 assists per 40 minutes and had a 1.42 assist-to-turnover ratio as a sophomore. He thrives around the free throw line out of the short roll or when taking up space in the middle of an opponent’s zone defense.
Freshman big Jaylin Williams was impactful despite scoring just a single point. Grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 4 beautiful assists.— Jam Hines (@jamontheboards) March 22, 2021
Short roll, FT line finds to backdoor cutters and the touch on the baseball outlet pass. Skilled big with a bright future pic.twitter.com/ApzAye5MD0
Jaylin Williams with another example of how to punish a team for gambling on defense.— Ersin Demir (@EDemirNBA) May 13, 2022
Again with a very timely bounce pass for the easy finish at the rim.
He does a good job making players around him better. I'm a fan of his game and will move him up on my 8.0 board! pic.twitter.com/TD1iHRacUD
Those two traits are a very interesting combo. Clearly Williams sees and anticipates the game at a very high level on both ends of the floor, Even though he has athletic limitations, it’s hard to imagine a player with that good a feel at his size not be able to find their way into an NBA rotation.
Athleticism, scoring touch
Williams didn’t do well in athletic testing at the combine, and that shows on tape too. He tries to move his feet, but he’s very heavy footed and doesn’t change directions well. He’ll probably struggle in switch situations against NBA guards and quicker wings. He doesn’t have a lot of vertical pop, which limits his potential as a shot blocker and finisher in traffic. There is reason to question if he can fully display his skill set if he’s overwhelmed athletically.
Williams is not much of a scorer either. He averaged just 13.8 points per 40 minutes and his shooting splits are very poor for his role—46.1% FG, 23.9% 3P, and 72.9% FT. His outside shot is awkward. It’s kind of rigid and he does this weird thing where he pulls his guide hand backwards while his shooting hand move towards the basket. There are too many parts moving in different directions, and his shooting technique will probably need an overhaul before he becomes a respectable outside shooter.
His lack of athleticism hurts him as a scorer as well. He can’t really attack the basket off the short roll and doesn’t have the softest touch trying to finish over and around the defenders he can’t get past.
Williams’ overall feel for the game gives him a great chance to find a niche in the NBA. There’s quite a lot of similarities between he and Draymond Green coming out of college. Obviously Green has found himself in a perfect situation and maximized his talents. Jaylin Williams could be a similarly perfect fit on a team with a lot of scoring talent on the perimeter. He’ll have to overcome his athletic limitations, but there’s no reason he can’t be a strong glue guy in a rotational role at the next level.