|Team: Santa Cruz|
H: 6' 4"|
W: 175 lbs
(26 Years Old)
|RSCI: 16||Agent: Brian Elfus ||
High School: St. George
Hometown: Collierville, TN
Drafted: Pick 22 in 2010 by Trailblazers
Elliot Williams does a number of things exceptionally well, and has the potential to be an efficient scorer if he improves some of his scoring tools.
Ranking right around average in terms of usage at 17.4 possessions per-game and slightly above average at 0.961 PPP overall, Williamsí best asset in comparison to his peers is his ability to use his quickness to get to the line. He was fouled on an impressive 14.2% of his overall shots, leading our sample of prospects by more than 3%.
Despite ranking right around average in terms of half court field goal percentage (42.2%), Williams scores on a higher percentage (45.4%) of his non-fast break possessions than any other player. Clearly, his first step plays a major role in his ability to create contact at the rim. His role for Memphis certainly helped as well.
Although he spent nearly twice as many of his possessions playing off the ball in spot up situations than Evan Turner (17.2% vs. 9.5%), Williams got some 43% of his offense operating one-on-one or working off a pick. A capable jump shooter when left open (42.9%), but limited when defended (27.3%), the Duke transfer has the resume of a guard capable of sliding over to handle the ball next to a shooting point guard or remaining off the ball and slashing to the rim.
Williams only shot 1.9 pull up jumpers per-game last season, preferring to drive all the way to the rim where he shot an average 51.3%. Given his lack of physical strength, Williams will need to continue to hone his shooting ability in the mid-range area to become a more complete offensive threat at the shooting guard position.
Few players have done as much for their respective draft stocks since last season as Elliot Williams. As we noted when we checked in on him in late January, the Duke transfer blossomed in his sophomore season as the go-to-guy for Josh Pastnerís Memphis Tigers. Firmly on the radar for the 2010 draft, Williams has had an outstanding campaign, but his play down the stretch exposed some of the weaker aspects of his game that will give NBA decision-makers pause as they evaluate his potential as a scorer.
Before delving into Williamsí weaknesses, which became especially apparent in Memphisí last two games against Tulsa and Houston, it is important to note what Williams has continued to do well. Considering this is his first season playing a big role in his teamís offense, a degree of inconsistency was inevitable, and while he certainly struggled at times, he remained a major offensive threat and showed some consistent weapons. Continuing to shoot the ball with confidence, impact the game with his speed in transition, and turn the corner off the bounce, Williams proved that his strong start was no fluke, but his glaring weaknesses allowed opposing coaches to plan against him more effectively late in the year.
Williamsí most apparent weakness is his lack of finishing ability with his right hand. Down the stretch, it became very clear that opposing defenders were actively trying to take away his left handed dribble drive, forcing the Tennessee native out of his comfort zone and limiting his explosive one-on-one scoring ability.
Proving very difficult to defend when he can turn the corner going left, Williams shows no confidence in his right hand around the basket. Bringing the ball back to his strong-hand on every drive to the rim, he looks too eager to force up difficult shots, unwilling to shoot with his off-hand, and uncomfortable finishing sweeping moves across the lane in traffic. Lacking the degree of advanced ball handling ability that would allow him to smoothly transition back to his left hand on dribble drives, these issues proved problematic, especially since he does not possess a great mid-range game at this point in time.
The significant imbalance between Williamsí scoring ability with his left and right hands make him predictable in half court situations. With Isolation situations accounting for 23% of his total offense according to Synergy Sports Technology, this was clearly one of the things that held Williams back late in the season. With defenders keying in on his tendencies, he was forced into difficult shots at the rim and couldnít compensate by pulling up off the dribble Ėpreferring to go straight to the rim after beating his man with his first-step.
Another key point of interest for NBA decision-makers is Williamsí point guard play. Though he didnít show a great deal of progress as the season went on, his ability to draw additional defenders allowed him to create some easy looks for his teammates. Long and athletic enough to play the two, Williams still needs to continue to polish his ability to orchestrate an offense in a half court setting and cut down on his turnovers by developing his ball handling ability and in-between game. Looking much more comfortable creating in transition than in half court situations, many of Williamsí turnovers were a byproduct of his tendency to force drives instead of taking what the defense was giving him.
Defensively, Williams shows a solid activity level, and his length and quickness prove to be useful tools in defending the passing lanes. However, his lack of physical strength hurts his ability to defend the pick and roll, and he remains a bit too eager to leave his feet when closing out shooters.
Moving towards decision day for underclassmen, Williams is definitely a name worth keeping an eye on. He could factor into this summerís draft, even if he has some weaknesses that have to be addressed for him to be successful down the road at the next level. Regardless of whether he returns to school or goes pro, if he can polish his perimeter shooting, develop his right hand, and iron out some of the wrinkles in his mid-range game and defense, he could continue to build on the impressive resume heís already put together this season in private workouts. A strong NIT run wouldnít hurt either, though it certainly wonít make decision makers forget for his poor performance in the Conference USA Tournament.
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 Williamsí numbers gone up across the board, as heís playing twice as many minutes and using four times as many possessions, but heís also vastly improved as a shooter and ball-handler, leading his efficiencies to likewise skyrocket.
Last season Williamsí 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 heís 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 heís 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 Williamsí scoring numbers have taken a huge jump this season, itís also important to note how his role his evolved since his time at Duke, as heís dishing out 3.6 assists per game as Memphisí 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.
Heís clearly learning to play the point on the fly right now, but is garnering terrific experience in the process. This isnít as much of an issue in todayís NBA as it once was anyway, as Williamsí 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 heís done at times this year.
Heís 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 heís 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 isnít 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 yearís draft when itís all said and done.
Playing a small, but important role for a Duke team lacking energy and athleticism, Elliot Williams had a solid, if not overwhelming first season of college basketball. A serious illness his mother is suffering forced him to transfer back home to Memphis this summer, though, and allowed the former McDonaldís All-American to become immediately eligible for the Tigers due to NCAA hardship rules.
From a physical standpoint, itís not difficult to tell why Williams was such a highly touted player coming out of high school. He has ample size for either guard position, a frame that should be able to put on plenty of weight, a long wingspan, and terrific athleticism. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that heís left-handed, making him a bit more unique.
Offensively, Williams is currently at his best in the open court. His first step is excellent, and he sports long, powerful strides, allowing him to get to the rim effectively and making him very dangerous in transition. Heís an aggressive player who is not bashful about trying to make his impact felt on the game, a characteristic that come in handy playing in an incredibly demanding environment last season.
On the downside, Williams is not a great ball-handler at the moment, as he goes left pretty much all the time and struggles to change directions with the ball. He is talented and aggressive enough at this level to make that work at the moment, but probably not as the focal point of an opponentís defense. He must become a better shot-creator in order to really take advantage of his tools physical tools, something heíll probably work on over the next few years.
As a jump-shooter, Williams is fairly limited, showing poor range and very little ability to make shots off the dribble. His shooting mechanics arenít terrible, but the fact that he only was able to convert 50% of his free throws as a freshman tells you that he has a lot of work to put in in this area. He must improve his mid-range game and become a better all-around decision maker as well, as he averaged more turnovers than assists as a freshman.
Defensively, Williams has excellent potential thanks to his physical attributes and the intensity he displays. He has the size and length to defend either guard position, which gives him nice versatility that NBA teams should like in time. At Duke he was often the one asked to defend the opposing teamís most talented backcourt scorer. He needs to continue to get stronger and more experienced, but this should be an area he keeps improving in as his college career moves on. Heís already a solid rebounder for the guard spot, on both ends of the floor at that.
Right now, Williams is a raw player with plenty of talent and a good deal of upside who is still a ways away from being discussed as an immediate NBA prospect. His physical attributes and the confidence in which he plays with means that teams will want to keep track of him, and it will be interesting to see what kind of strides he can make with his game in his sophomore season at Memphis.