Why the San Antonio Spurs should take Ziaire Williams
We know there are many areas of his game that need work, but there are some positive signs of life here when it comes to the game of Ziaire Williams.
Offensively, he's at his best off the dribble. Placing in the top half of college hoops as a scorer in this scenario, Williams can benefit from the multitude of Spurs developmental coaches that can strengthen an obvious level of comfort.
As mentioned previously, Williams is comfortable to the point where it looks effortless when it comes to his mid-range game. He placed in the 70th percentile as a scorer from mid-range, something that can be a solid ground for his offensive game. Considering San Antonio's willingness to let the middy live on, Williams would be comfortable polishing a strength of his game.
Using 1-2 dribble pull-ups, Ziaire's ball handling ability isn't flashy but it is effective in certain situations. He has long strides and a quick crossover that can create space and ultimately get him whatever shot he wants due to the combination of this and his frame.
His play in the pick and roll as a passer is noteworthy, as he averaged over three assists per 40 minutes, the majority coming out of the pick and roll. He processes quickly, sometimes too quick for his body to react as the ball handler, something that will improve with more fine-tuning at the next level.
As a defender, he was great when defending the pick and roll ball-handler. He placed in the 83rd percentile when defending the ball-handler out of the pick and roll. Despite being a slender young man, he was able to navigate through screens with ease.
Continuing his success as an on-ball defender, he allowed 0.81 PPP defensively, which placed him in the better half of college hoops percentile-wise.
His strengths are clear as of today. Pick and roll play, mid-range scoring, on-ball defense, athleticism. It's broad, it's raw, but there are strengths here. Many numbers don't land in Ziaire's favor, but the ones that do really translate well at the next level.
Considering the Spurs' style of play and their needs, from running pick and roll at the fourth-highest clip in the league and shooting the highest amount of jumpers from the mid-range, Ziaire will be entering a situation where he's comfortable and that fits his strengths immediately.
Late in the first round, you're either going to swing for the fences on a prospect or select a limited upside contributor. That's the vast majority of late first-round picks.
In the case of San Antonio, a non-playoff team, likely too talented to land in the bottom five in the lottery but not good enough to be a perennial playoff contender, the Spurs should opt to swing for the fences if they trade back into the first round.
There is no prospect with a higher amount of upside in the late '20s than Ziaire Williams. The combination of his God-given athletic and physical gifts combined with a style of play that is raw but translatable at the next level is something San Antonio should take the risk on.
The gifts are there athletically for Williams as he is a fluid athlete. He's quick, athletic, and agile. The issues for Ziaire mainly come from his lack of strength and inability to match his processing speed with his on-court game. There are times he can ball-watch or even play too far ahead of himself.
You won't judge a pick like Williams until year three or year four, but for minimal compensation, why not trade back into the first round and select a former five-star recruit and former top ten talent in his class, who has a unique blend of size, athleticism, and comfort off the dribble?
With the selection of Ziaire Williams, San Antonio has a prospect that they can take their time on to develop, who can potentially blossom into a long-term fit for their roster. There is no guarantee when it comes to drafting projects late in the first round, but one thing is for certain.
If San Antonio elects to trade back into the first round, Stanford's Ziaire Williams would be a home-run selection.