Forward Grant Williams from the University of Tennessee brings a wide range of skills to the table that could mesh nicely with the San Antonio Spurs.
Toughness is an intangible asset that cannot be taught through anything but predetermined willpower or experience, and Tennessee forward Grant Williams has it in boatloads. Standing at 6-foot-7 with broad shoulders and a muscular build, Williams could add dimensions of physicality and aggression that the San Antonio Spurs would benefit greatly from.
According to Jabari Young of The Athletic, members of the Spurs’ staff are already scheduled to work Williams out in the near future to get a feel for his personality and capabilities.
Over the course of his three years as heart of the Volunteers, Williams was essential to stabilizing a culture that emphasized teamwork, collaboration and sacrifice for the greater good. His values align closely with those of the Spurs and his appreciation for this sport is sky high, so he’d presumably settle nicely in San Antonio.
Williams already has a track record of being a hard worker and is willing to put everything on the line to affect winning. He improved his all-around game in each of his three seasons as shown by his increases in points, rebounds, assists and steals per game through each of his three seasons at Tennessee.
The SEC can be a daunting place to be for an NBA prospect in college when considering the strength of the conference and high expectations for each program. Williams rose to the occasion and proved that he belonged as one of the most pivotal and influential players in his conference.
In a culmination of his efforts, Williams won the SEC Player of the Year award in back-to-back seasons. He became the first player to win the award in consecutive years since Corliss Williamson did it in 1994 and 1995.
Through his junior campaign, Williams bolstered his draft stock by averaging 18.8 points per game on 56.4 percent shooting from the floor, 32.6 percent shooting from three and 81.9 percent shooting from the charity stripe. Furthermore, Williams stuffed the stat sheet with an average of 7.5 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks in 32 minutes per game.
As a professional, Williams projects to be a skilled all-around four despite being undersized by conventional standards. What he lacks in size is made up for in strength, smarts and toughness near the basket as well as a plethora of playmaking skills on both ends of the floor. Maximum effort can be hard to come by at the collegiate level, but Williams makes it look easy.
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Passing within a team-based playstyle and finding teammates around the perimeter are two invaluable skills for a modern four to have. This is an area where Williams excels compared to others at his position with shades of Draymond Green and Boris Diaw in his playstyle.
Additional playmaking from the four-spot is not unusual for the Spurs, who’ve persuaded LaMarcus Aldridge to improve as a passer from the post in recent years and relied on Tim Duncan for years prior. Instilling Grant with the young core of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV and Jakob Poeltl would be exhilarating in terms of fit and culture.
Shooting is one area that Williams needs to work on as a pro, but his free throw percentage and three-point percentage in his freshman year would indicate that he has the potential to become a floor spacer with the proper time and effort.
There’s still plenty of time between now and the draft, but it seems like Williams will be a mid-first round pick with the potential to slip into the late 20s. He’d be a steal for R.C. Buford with the 29th pick, although it’s certainly justifiable to select the 20-year-old with the 19th pick in the draft.