The 2019 NBA Draft Lottery has come and gone, and the New Orleans Pelicans shocked the basketball world when they won the No. 1 overall pick despite having some of the worst odds among the 14 teams vying for the top spot. The Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks round out the top three picks of the upcoming draft.
Now that the 2019 NBA Draft order has been completely set, most sites that cover the NBA Draft have updated their mock drafts after the lottery. And essentially every updated mock draft now has Tennessee’s Grant Williams as a first-round pick.
Williams, the two-time SEC Player of the Year, will be participating in the 2019 NBA Draft Combine this week in Chicago. The combine begins today and runs though May 19th. According to Andy Katz of NCAA.com, Williams claims he’ll have a decision about his basketball future this weekend, well before the May 29th deadline to withdraw his name from consideration.
All underclassmen have until 10 days after the combine ends to take their name out of the draft pool and return to school if they so choose. This year, that makes the deadline May 29th. But Williams doesn’t intend to make UT wait that long, and he could come to a decision as soon as Saturday, May 18th.
Williams will wait and see what kind of analysis and grades he gets back from teams before deciding, but if NBA scouts feel the same way many in the media do, then there’s a good chance Williams will keep his name in the draft pool.
On seven different major media outlets that cover the NBA Draft, Williams is pegged as a first-round draft pick. It’s just a matter of where he’s selected. There’s only one major outlet currently not predicting Williams to be selected in the first round, and that’s Sports Illustrated. Their most recent mock draft has Williams going No. 32 overall in the second round to Phoenix Suns.
Otherwise, Williams is projected as a first-round pick.
According to Tankathon’s updated mock draft, Williams will be selected No. 21 overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. Tankathon doesn’t provide a blurb or analysis of Williams like the other sites do, but they do have him ranked as the No. 4 power forward available in the 2019 class and the No. 17 overall prospect on their big board. Heavy.com doesn’t provide an analysis of Williams either, but they have him being taken No. 22 overall by the Boston Celtics in their updated mock draft. Heavy also has Williams’ teammate at Tennessee, Admiral Schofield, going in the first round. Schofield is selected No. 29 overall by the San Antonio Spurs in their post-lottery mock draft.
In Kyle Boone’s updated mock draft on CBS Sports, he views Williams as a lottery pick, predicting the consensus First-Team All-American to go 13th overall to the Miami Heat.
“Strong, physically-imposing two-way player who did a little of everything at Tennessee while winning consecutive SEC Player of the Year honors,” Boone writes of Williams. “Projecting him to the NBA is seamless, too; he played primarily power forward with the Vols but showed strong flashes and skill as a perimeter player, evidenced by his 32.6% accuracy from 3-point range and off-the-dribble playmaking. He’s perhaps not a star, but a safe pick for the Heat who can contribute even in a deep frontcourt rotation.”
Boone also has Admiral Schofield being selected in the first round. Schofield is taken No. 27 overall by the Brooklyn Nets in Boone’s post-lottery mock draft.
The Ringer has consistently been high on Grant Williams, and they at one point had him projected as a lottery pick as well. But in their updated mock draft after the NBA Draft Lottery, they have Williams going No. 17 overall to the Nets. Their analysis calls him a “team-first player who runs the show from the post but will need to expand his game to the perimeter at the next level.”
Not only that, but Williams is also identified by The Ringer as one of the top five playmakers available in the draft regardless of position.
“Tennessee ran its offense through the junior forward, who averaged 18.8 points on 56.4 percent shooting and 3.2 assists per game,” writes Jonathan Tjarks. “His size (6-foot-7 and 236 pounds) means that he won’t be able to play in the post in the NBA as much as he did in college, but he has the skill set to transition into more of a secondary role on the perimeter. Williams could thrive making plays as the roll man in the two-man game, much like Draymond Green.”
In Bleacher Report’s post-lottery mock draft, they have Williams being taken 24th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.
“Unlikely to go too high without plus athleticism, advanced creating ability or shooting range, Williams offers value-pick potential,” writes Jonathan Wasserman. “His floor is high and propped up by skilled post-scoring moves and passes, a strong 236-pound frame and terrific IQ at both ends of the floor. The Sixers can overlook upside for the strong chance that Williams can bring efficient play and toughness in a bench role for years.”
Over on Sporting News, Williams is projected to go No. 25 overall to the Portland Trailblazers in their updated post-lottery mock draft.
“Portland’s frontcourt rotation doesn’t exactly appear to be designed to handle the rigors of playoff basketball when it comes to combating the league’s best pull-up shooters,” says Chris Stone. “Williams could offer some safety as a versatile piece capable of playing next to Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins in the regular season while moving into a center role in the playoffs.
“He has a tremendous basketball IQ and would make an interesting short-roll threat coming out of ball screens with either Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum.”
The lowest in the first round that Williams is being projected by major media outlets is over on The Athletic. Sam Vecenie’s latest mock draft after the NBA Draft Lottery has Williams going No. 27 overall to the Brooklyn Nets, landing him just inside the first round by only a handful of picks. And it’s clear that Vecenie is a big fan of Williams despite predicting him lower than most.
“Look, I’m personally going to have Williams much higher than this on my board,” Vecenie writes. “He’ll be a top-20 guy for me if he stays in the draft — something he’s still unsure he will do. On some level, I think NBA evaluators are overlooking Williams’ skill fit in the NBA because of his role at Tennessee and his unique body type. With the way the NBA is going, getting a guy who is 6-foot-6 with long arms and the ability to play smart help defense as well as avoid defensive mismatches by guarding bigger than his height is super valuable. And offensively, Williams is an improving shooter with good touch from within 15 feet, although one that lacks confidence shooting it from distance. But what intrigues me most is the ability to use Williams as a screen setter, then popping him or short-rolling him into the 17-foot range and allowing him to make plays with his terrific vision when the defense collapses.
“If the shot comes along, he’s a Swiss-Army knife that plugs a ton of holes and complements star players perfectly.”
The consensus seems to be that Williams is a first-round talent given his basketball IQ, production in college, and ability both as a defender and passer. The average of the eight outlets listed in this article would have Williams being drafted either with the No. 22 or No. 23 pick in the draft.
While the draft order is set right now, trades could, of course, affect the way the draft goes and could alter team needs. Back in 2014, both Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae were taken in the second round of the NBA Draft, but neither player ended up playing for the team that drafted them, for example. Stokes was taken by the Utah Jazz with the No. 35 overall pick and was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, and McRae was selected No. 58 overall and was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Williams has until May 29th to decide if he wants to stay in the draft, though he’ll likely have a decision made before then. But if the mock drafts hold true, then Williams likely won’t be returning to UT for his senior season.
The 2019 NBA Draft will be held in Chicago on June 20th.