After a solid but limited freshman season (which he profiled in our last report), Elliot Williams
transferred to Memphis to be closer to his mother, who is battling cancer, and thus far his performance has been outstanding.
Not only have Williams numbers gone up across the board, as hes playing twice as many minutes and using four times as many possessions, but hes also vastly improved as a shooter and ball-handler, leading his efficiencies to likewise skyrocket.
Last season Williams biggest problem area was his lack of anything resembling a reliable shot, either from the field (25% 3PT, 1.1 attempts per game) or the free throw line (50% FT, 1.4 attempts per game). This season, Williams has completely turned things around, taking 5.3 threes per game and hitting at a 38% clip, while getting to the line 7.4 times per game and hitting at a 78% clip.
This increase has led him to rank 25th in our database in True Shooting percentage at 63%, while interestingly doing so on incredibly high usage, as no one ranked higher than him is scoring more points per game.
Looking at his jump-shot, Williams is clearly an excellent shooter in space, where he has consistent mechanics and a high release point. He jumps into his shot a little bit, and likewise has a tendency to fade his shoulders back some, but this has little effect on his shot when he has the time and space to get it off. He also has developed a nice stepback jumper with three-point range, where he does a good job getting separation while maintaining his balance to get off high percentage shots.
Things break down for Williams a bit when hes closely contested or pulling up off the dribble, mainly because his motion is at its best when more deliberate, and his balance can fall off some when hes rushed, leading to decreased accuracy. If Williams makes his motion more compact and less reliant on jumping into the shot, it could lead to him being a more efficient scorer against tighter defense, and make him a more dangerous shooter in general.
Attacking the rim, Williams still gets by mainly relying on his terrific explosiveness, long strides, and power dribbles, not having much in terms of advanced ball-handling moves, as evidenced by his fairly high turnover rate.
He seems to be getting more comfortable with the straight-line dribbles using both hands, but at the rim he is completely reliant on his dominant left hand to finish, rarely if ever using his right, which hampers from being as good of a finisher as his athleticism indicates.
He does make up for that by doing a great job of initiating contact around the basket, helping him get to the free throw line at a superb rate.
While Williams scoring numbers have taken a huge jump this season, its also important to note how his role his evolved since his time at Duke, as hes dishing out 3.6 assists per game as Memphis primary and definitive ball-handler.
Williams does most of his creating on simple one or two dribble drive-and-kicks, showing good recognition when the opposition sends help, where he makes quick, simple passes to the open man. He shows flashes of ability making drive-and-kicks and drive-and-dumps from deep in the painted area, doing a good job of keeping his head up, but definitely looking most comfortable relying on the simple stuff.
Williams tends to struggle badly at times with his decision making in the half-court, sporting an unimpressive assist to turnover ratio and pure point rating, leading many to believe that his future lies more at the shooting guard position.
Hes clearly learning to play the point on the fly right now, but is garnering terrific experience in the process. This isnt as much of an issue in todays NBA as it once was anyway, as Williams terrific athleticism could make him a very dangerous threat on an NBA up-tempo team, particularly next to another solid ball-handler.
Defensively, Williams shows a high activity level and good focus to go along with very good foot speed, which allows him to match up against either guard spot, which hes done at times this year.
Hes probably not as aggressive a defender as he was at Duke, having to expend much more energy on the offensive end, but he has all the tools to project well as a defender at the next level. The fact that he has the size and length (at 6-4, with a nice wingspan) to defend multiple positions at the NBA level surely helps matters when considering that hes a bit stuck between positions.
Looking forward, Williams is starting to make a case for testing the waters this season, where he should be firmly in first round discussions given his scoring prowess, physical tools and overall upside. Becoming a more reliable pull-up jump shooter and developing his right hand around the basket should be among his priorities, while improving his advanced ball-handling skills and all-around decision making ability is also important.
Williams already has the tools and skills to project as a strong role player at the next level, but it isnt out of the question that he could be even more than that if he keeps improving his game.
Considering his difficult family situation, no one should be surprised if Williams decides to put his name in this years draft when its all said and done.