Justin Williams NBA Draft Scouting Report

Justin Williams NBA Draft Scouting Report
May 05, 2006, 05:21 pm
Listed at 6 feet, 10 inches, Williams has good height for the NBA power forward position. He combines that with a nice wingspan and an excellent standing reach. As an athlete, Williams is incredibly quick getting off the floor, with an excellent vertical leap and plenty of footspeed to get the job done. His upper-body is very much underdeveloped, but his legs are strong and act as a springboard for him to get off the ground and challenge shots. Despite not having the type of bulk you would hope for in a 4-year senior, his frame shows a lot of promise to continue to put weight on as he makes the transition from the college campus to an NBA weight room, particularly his broad shoulders.

Offensively, Williams is extremely raw, scoring most of his points off offensive rebounds, in transition, and off layups or dunks around the basket. When given the opportunity, Williams finishes strong and confidently at the rim. He has an underdeveloped jump-hook shot that serves as his go-to move within a few feet of the hoop.

Williams’ biggest asset as far as the NBA is concerned lies in his game-changing shot-blocking ability. He averaged an astounding 5.4 blocks per game as a college senior, good for 2nd best in the country, and a full 1.5 more blocks per game than the third best shot-blocker in the nation. Beyond his physical gifts, Williams is blessed with amazing timing and instincts in regards to challenging and intimidating around the rim. He often doesn’t even need to jump to block a shot, just positioning himself perfectly with his arms high in the air and pinning the ball to the glass in one quick, fluid motion. His massive hands help him out a great deal in this regard. Williams gets his fair share of blocks on the ball while guarding his man, but makes most of his living on the weak-side. He rotates in the blink of an eye, anticipates his opponent’s leap to let him get in the air before he does, and then goes straight up with no hesitation at all. Even when he doesn’t come up with a block on any given possession, his mere presence in the lane is enough to make opposing guards leery about driving into the paint.

Being more than just a shot-blocker, as a team defender Williams is quite good as well. He is a pesky, physical type, always looking to scrap, never being afraid of contact, holding his ground against stronger opponents and showing tremendous hustle on this end of the floor. His work-ethic and athleticism are on full display in the way he defends the pick and roll especially; coming out to hedge the screen, showing extremely well and then recovering in the blink of an eye right back into the post to continue to get the job done. If a teammate blows his assignment, Williams is quick enough to even step out on the perimeter and contest jump-shots from opposing guards as well.

Williams is also a tremendous rebounder at the collegiate level, averaging 11 per game in just 30 minutes per outing. The same physical attributes that make him an excellent shot-blocker make a factor here too; length, quickness, vertical leap, toughness, timing and a tremendous motor. He goes after anything and everything that is even remotely in his area, showing little regard for anyone that is in his way.

In terms of intangibles, Williams’ improvement as a basketball player can be directly attributed to his excellent work-ethic. He averaged more rebounds and blocked shots his last year at Wyoming than he did in Junior College, which tells you a bit about the strides he’s made as a basketball player. On the court, he’s known as a highly coachable player who knows his role and does exactly what is asked of him. He played much of the season on a bad ankle that most players would not even consider practicing on, showing his dedication to his team along with his ability to play through pain. Off the court, Williams is billed as an outgoing person with a good attitude as well as a solid teammate.

One correctable weakness which could prevent him from playing a large role early on in his career is the fact that he’s extremely thin for a power forward, measuring out at around 215 pounds at Portsmouth. NBA big men will be able to push him around the way Mountain West Conference big men couldn’t, so adding strength is a priority. Defensively, Williams had problems staying on the floor at times this year due to the fact that he is prone to get in early foul trouble thanks to his tenacious style of play. His footwork in the post could still stand to improve.

Offensively, Williams is extremely raw, not leaving much hope of ever developing into much of a factor on this end besides scoring on garbage points. He has almost no offense to speak of outside of 5 feet, being particularly limited due to the fact that he has very poor touch on his shot. He has a very awkward looking release, and this is especially obvious when watching him clank free throws, hitting only 56% of his attempts on the season. He has absolutely no face-up game and cannot create a shot for himself in the post due to his non-existent ball-handling skills. Williams is a very mechanical offensive player, even shooting simple shots around the rim, his touch is very poor. Offensively he would be best suited playing the center position next to a highly skilled power forward, but at 6-9 or 6-10 his size and lack of bulk pretty much relegates him almost exclusively to the 4-spot.

Williams played in a fairly watered down Mountain West Conference, one year after the conference had two top 20 picks in the NBA draft. The depth of this conference was very questionable, particularly in terms of big men talent, so some healthy skepticism should occur when analyzing his gaudy statistical production.

As a senior, Williams averaged 11 points and 11 rebounds to go along with his 5.4 blocks per game. His most impressive performance statistically was likely a 10 point, 15 rebound 12 block effort against Utah in the MWC tournament. Besides a monster 13 point, 20 rebound, 9 block performance against Charlotte early on in the season, Williams for the most part struggled to reach his averages against the fairly marginal NBA prospects he had a chance to match up with in-conference and out, including Yemi Nicholson, Marcus Slaughter, Louis Amundson and Joah Tucker.

At the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament he showed that his numbers were no fluke, though, being named to DraftExpress’ All-Portsmouth 2nd team (see links: Portsmouth Recap) for his efforts here. Many of his matchups were against high profile big men (relatively speaking) from high-major conferences, and he was impressive enough to surely earn himself another look at the Orlando pre-draft camp in June.

Williams played his first two seasons of college basketball at Colby Community College before transferring to Wyoming. He was also recruited by Auburn, DePaul, Iowa State, Marquette, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and UCLA.

Considering his tremendous rebounding and defensive potential, there is likely a spot for a player like Justin Williams in the NBA, even more so when you consider his youth (turning 22 in mid-May) and upside.

Barring a terrific performance in Orlando that could propel him into the 1st round, Williams will likely get drafted somewhere in the 2nd round and will initially get a chance to justify the investment to see how much he can improve in his first season or two in the NBA. There are many scrappy power forwards who went undrafted and are far less naturally talented than him making a solid living in the NBA right now.

Thumbnail courtesy of the Mountain West Conference.

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