While the college basketball season is still young, the time to talk about the 2019 NBA Draft is never too soon. That brings us to another edition of CBB Today’s Sleeper series. This one featuring Tennessee Volunteers forward Grant Williams.
While the Volunteers are an excellent team and ranked in the top 10 this season, a lot of their players are not getting the love they deserve. At least not like the Dukes, Virginias and Gonzagas of the world, anyway.
The 6-foot-7, 236-pound junior is off to a great start this season and is pacing to have an even better campaign than he did last year. That’s pretty big considering he was named the SEC Player of the Year last season and he is improving upon that campaign. To get an idea of how well he is playing, here are his stats so far this season:
- 20.4 points per game, 1.6 blocks per game, 1 steal per game, 4.3 assists per game, 8.9 rebounds per game
- 59.3 field goal percentage, 45.5 three-point percentage (on 1.6 attempts a game), 79.2 free throw percentage
Williams will likely play at the small forward spot in the NBA, but he will have to improve in a couple are before then. He needs to show he can handle the ball much better than in his previous two seasons and he has to become a better shooter from long distance.
He’s been slightly more willing to shoot from beyond the arc, as he’s getting up just over 1.5 shots a game from three. He’s making about 45 percent of those attempts, so the translation to the next level is there, but he will have to show in workouts he can be truly consistent in more than a small sample size.
The big man stuck in a forward’s body posts up defenders very well and has a variety of moves he uses to get to the rim and to get his shot off if he can’t make it to the paint. Williams often ends up bullying his defender into where he wants to go, but when that doesn’t work, he has a nice fadeaway he uses or a good spin move to get by his man. His proximity to the hoop also helps him accumulate free throw trips, as he’s taking almost eight free throws a game and converting at a pretty solid clip.
One of the biggest strengths in his game is that he runs the floor very well and is an excellent screener. He’s stellar in the latter of those because of his physicality, reading plays well well. He knows when to slip the screen and when to hold it, which is always key in getting mismatches on offense.
He’s also been an improving rebounder on both ends of the floor, which is certainly something NBA teams will appreciate since ending a possession is just as important as gaining another one.
A crucial aspect of his game he will need to work on is playing defense. Oftentimes, he is caught standing up and not in a good defensive stance. There are also times when he goes to close out in the corner in a 2-3 zone and falls for a lot of up fakes, which puts him and his teammates out of position. Granted, there’s not really any zone played in the pro game, but this still shows that he has a long way to go on the defensive end of the floor.
Nevertheless, keep your eye on Grant Williams.
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