Williams’ Place on Big Boards
For the most part, Grant Williams is pegged as a mid-to-late first round prospect by most sites that analyze the NBA Draft.
The lowest I’ve been able to find Williams listed on an NBA Draft big board was on NBADraft.net, but their big board hadn’t been updated since late March, so I chose not to go into detail on it here.
As for all the significant sites with big boards that have been updated since April began, Williams is usually inside the top 25 prospects available in the draft pool.
The NBA Draft big board on USA Today Sports lists Williams as the 27th-best prospect available. Both ESPN and NBC Sports have Williams at the No. 24 spot on their big boards, The Athletic has him 22nd, Tankathon.com places him 17th overall, and CBS Sports has him right outside the top-15 overall prospects at 16th.
The highest Williams has been listed in any big board is 12th overall, and that was by The Ringer. We actually already went into detail on that last week when the updated big board came out on their site. I suggest checking out that article before continuing with this one.
Several of the sites mentioned above didn’t go into detail for players beyond the top five or 10 on their boards. Some didn’t have any analysis offered at all. But CBS Sports, Tankathon, and ESPN provided breakdowns of Williams’ strengths and weaknesses to accompany their big boards.
Per ESPN, Williams has “unspectacular athleticism” and needed to round out his game more as a junior to “become a more viable NBA prospect.” According to their analysis, he was able do just that, improving his scoring, rebounding, and assist numbers all while shooting double the amount of three-pointers he did as a sophomore.
“Williams is still not the most confident outside shooter, often passing up open 3s to execute the Vols’ methodical and unselfish offense, but the flashes he has shown in this area are very encouraging,” ESPN writes. “He steps into trail 3s confidently, attacks closeouts to pull up for mid-range jumpers on occasion, and shows a high release point and great touch that indicate there’s plenty of room for optimism. The fact that he’s also an elite screener, a tremendous rebounder, an intelligent defender, and a reportedly awesome teammate will also work in his favor. He just turned 20 and is younger than all but four of the 17 sophomores — and all of the juniors — currently in our top 100.”
Williams’ youth relative to other players in his grade level is another appeal for him that doesn’t get talked about much but really does make him stand out to NBA scouts. His growth rate as a player is greater than most, and most NBA scouts and coaches will likely see him as a pretty high upside talent who won’t disrupt the locker room.
Tankathon.com didn’t go quite as in-depth with their analysis, but they listed a slew of traits that are considered strengths and weaknesses for Williams. All in all, the site listed 17 strengths and only three weaknesses for Williams. Their analysis listed five strengths that stood out among the rest in Williams’ game: his assist total, offensive plus/minus, assist-to-turnover ratio, offensive win shares, and his assist percentage usage.
As for Williams’ weaknesses, they all pertain to rebounding. His overall rebounding and both his offensive and defensive rebounding totals were listed as his three biggest deficiencies.
On Tankathon, Williams is listed not only as the 17th overall prospect, but also as the No. 4 power forward available in the draft. He’s right above Kentucky’s PJ Washington and is listed behind only Duke’s Zion Williamson, Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, and international prospect Sekou Doumbouya from France.
Per CBS Sports, Williams was “so consistently productive that NBA scouts who previously questioned whether what he does will translate to the next level are starting to wonder why it won’t.”
Their analysis also laments Williams’ lack of elite athleticism, but they also state that it may not matter because he’s shown time and time again at Tennessee that he can perform well even without being a freak athlete like other players.
“It’s true that the 6-7 forward is neither a great athlete nor a serious threat from the perimeter,” says CBS Sports’ analysis. “But Williams really knows how to play. And, more and more often, players who are described that way are carving out roles for themselves in the NBA. Perhaps Williams can be the next.”
It’s clear that analysts aren’t high on Williams’ ability to wow with athleticism, but his work ethic and productivity despite his lack of high level of natural talent makes him an intriguing prospect who is still a first round prospect for most.