After a strong finish to his freshman campaign that culminated in being named the runner up in the ACC rookie of the year voting, Jordan Williams
has had to should a much heavier offensive load for Maryland. With the graduation of Maryland's top three scorers from a year ago, Williams has gone from an offensive role player who got most of his points off offensive rebounds, transition opportunities and simple catch and finish opportunities to the focal point of the Maryland offense.
Williams has had success in his new role, going from 14.7 points per-40 minutes pace adjusted to his freshman year to 20.8 this year, while increasing his efficiency. Despite the progress, Williams has some more work to do to overcome the athletic disadvantage he'll face in the NBA.
Williams still operates almost exclusively in the paint offensively, getting the vast majority of his half-court offense from offensive rebounds, cuts, and post-ups. He's a very active player with broad shoulders, good length, good touch around the rim, and has made significant strides with his conditioning compared with where he was last year, although he still has some work to be done in that regard. He's deceptively quick in transition, being more agile in the open court than you would expect someone of his size and overall athleticism.
The biggest strides Williams has made have been in his post game, doing a better job of using his strength to establish good post position down low, showing a soft touch with his right hand, and displaying improved footwork on the blocks. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Williams has increased the amount of touches he gets on the block, while increasing his efficiency doing so.
Despite making strides in his post-game, Williams still has a considerable amount of question marks on how well, if at all, that will translate to the next level when he faces the length of NBA frontcourts, when he won't have a decided strength advantage over the man guarding him. He's often times slow and predictable with his moves, which when combined with his lack of vertical explosion leads to difficulty getting his shot off at times. While his footwork has improved, he still lacks a go-to move and has little diversity when going over his right shoulder, showing a weak left hand in these situations and more often than not settling for a difficult fade away jump shot.
Moving well off the ball, Williams has very good hands, showing an ability to catch most passes down low and get his shot off quickly, doing a good job of keeping the ball high. Williams has shown almost nothing in terms of a mid-range jumper, a skill set he's probably going to need if he hopes to stick with an NBA team. His form looks solid, and with enough repetition it may in fact become an option for him down the line, but as is evidenced by his free throw percentage (51.6%), Williams has a lot of work ahead of him before becoming a reliable threat from the perimeter.
Another area where Williams could stand to improve is as a passer, particularly doing a better job of recognizing the double teams quicker, as often times he's unable to use the considerable attention he generates in the post to his teams benefit. He ranks amongst the five worst passers amongst all prospects in our database, highlighting his struggles in this area. That being said, Maryland's overall lack of reliable shooting from the perimeter hurts Williams in this regard, which makes it hard to accurately gauge his improvement in this facet of the game.
On the defensive side of the ball, Williams does a solid job using his size and strength when engaged in the post, although he suffers at times from waiting too long to deny post position before his man gets the ball. He has decent enough fundamentals showing on the pick and roll, but lacks the foot speed to recover, a problem that looks to be a serious one when trying to project his defense against the face-up big men he would encounter in the NBA. The same lateral mobility issues creep up when defending a good isolation big. While Williams has solid timing and good length, and thus will get the occasional block, he isn't quick enough or explosive enough off his feet to project to being a consistent shot blocking threat in the NBA. Gary Williams' largely man to man defensive scheme gives us a solid look at the difficulties Williams will have when trying to defend NBA big men.
The one skill that Williams should be able to hang his hat on is his rebounding, and it's a big one at that. Williams is an outstanding rebounder on both sides of the floor, ranking 7th in our database in rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted. He's active on the offensive glass, constantly moving to gain position. On the defensive side of the ball, despite not having the quickness or reaction time to cover a lot of space, he does a good job boxing out and uses his good hands to clean up what's available to him. Williams is on pace to have one of the best rebounding seasons by a sophomore in ACC history, and should be able to translate that skill to the professional level.
Williams has made great strides in productivity with an entire college offense built around him, and has placed himself on the radar for being an NBA prospect. That being said, he still has a way to go to diversify his offensive game to show that he can play a similar role in the league. Displaying success shooting the ball, developing a pick and roll game, and making better use of his left hand in the post would go a long way towards quelling the concerns of his current offensive skills translating.
With the ACC portion of the schedule now underway, how well Williams performs against some of the better defensive teams, and some NBA-level defensive big men, will be telling when evaluating his status as a legitimate prospect. The early returns have been promising, as he's outplayed significantly higher rated prospects in Villanova's Mouphtaou Yarou
and Duke's Mason Plumlee
. How well he does the rest of the way will be telling of how far he's come as an NBA prospect, and perhaps on how far he still has to go before erasing all of his concerns.