Arizonas Marcus Williams
had his best collegiate game on Thursday night, only to follow it up with an even better performance Sunday. After a very promising freshman season that left scouts salivating over his potential, Williams isnt disappointing as a sophomore, living up to all of the expectations as he takes hold of the feature role on his very strong Arizona squad. In the six games since conference play has begun, Williams point total hasnt dipped below 18, and hes set a new career best in each of his past two games.
In terms of NBA potential, its tough to say theres an area where Williams is lacking, besides the fact that he may not have a true bread and butter to his game. He has a solid frame, excellent length, good athleticism, and a skillset that already boasts inside, outside, and mid-range scoring. As for any question marks about him being able to be a go-to scorer
well, hes off to a very good start in answering those.
Williams projects to be a consummate NBA swingman, being versatile enough to do a little bit of everything NBA teams expect from the position. The most impressive aspect of his game thus far would probably be his mid-range game. Williams has excellent shooting form with a high and quick release, high elevation on his jump shot, and with his long arms, the release point on his shot is unblockable by most. He can get his shot off in an instant with very little space, and he uses a nice combination of crossovers and fakes to get the little separation he needs to get his shot off. Equally impressive is that hes able to get the shot off on the move when it would appear he doesnt have great balance, though he does a good job keeping his body upright even while moving. Hes not entirely consistent with this aspect of his game yet, but hes farther along with it than many players ever get, and considering hes shooting 54% from the field in a feature role this year, its tough to get down on his shot selection.
Another area where Williams really excels is moving without the ball, specifically getting open underneath the basket by slipping behind the defense. He does this probably a handful of times every game, and even if he catches the ball on the baseline under the rim, he still usually manages to find a way to get the ball in the basket, using a combination of his length, flexibility, and his savvy in using reverse lay-ups and the backboard to score from places many other players cant. He also does a good job cutting through the lane without the ball, and shows a good touch around the rim, using his creativity to finish even in tight traffic.
Williams has range out to the college three-point line with his shot, but its not a major staple of his game, as he usually favors the close and mid-range, where hes more reliable at this stage. His shooting form remains solid from the farther distance, though his percentage is only at 36% so far this year, down from 44% last year, albeit the sample size is relatively small. Hes shown flashes of range out to the NBA three-point line, but he will likely need to put in some extra gym work to make that a more consistent staple of his game when the time comes.
Williams has really made a concerted effort in the hustle areas this season, almost always being the first man out on fast breaks, attacking the board relentlessly with his length and leaping ability to help him, and anticipating and picking off the passing lanes on defense. Williams is a very versatile defender, as his length and lateral quickness allow him to guard pretty much any position on the floor, and his aggressiveness and solid understanding of fundamentals help him out here as well.
The way Williams is performing, if he keeps it up, he should be a virtual lock to be a top 20 pick in this years draft. With his skills, physical attributes, and approach to the game, its very tough to see him not succeeding in some capacity in the NBA. Whether that is as a versatile swingman as a third or fourth option for a team or a legitimate go-to player is yet to be seen, but the way hes progressed over the past season and a half, theres a very good chance he could reach his full potential.