CLEVELAND, Ohio — For the first time since 2018, the Cleveland Cavaliers missed the top five in the NBA draft. When a team owns the 14th spade – the last pick in the lottery – they have no control over the outcome. There will be no Evan Mobley or Darius Garland. This year, the selection is limited. Sources tell cleveland.com that the front office is watching the first round of about 10 players, trying to determine the best combination of talent and form.
Countdown included. June 23rd is fast approaching.
In the days leading up to the draft, cleveland.com will examine several prospects that could realistically be in play for the Cavs in the expected range.
Next up: Santa Clara swingman Jalen Williams.
Statistics 2021-22: 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 51.3% FG, 39.6% FG, 80.9% FG
Height: 6-5 ¾
Wingspan: 7-2 ¼
Job title: shooting guard / small forward
What you need to know:
Growth spurt — Considered the ninth best prep player in Arizona, Williams had a late growth spurt, adding a total of eight inches from his sophomore year of high school to his freshman year of college. A point guard early in his career, with a natural playing instinct and strong ball handling skills, Williams’ rise will see him repositioned. However, he has the IQ and skill set to play all around.
The mamba mentality In number 24, Williams idolizes the late Kobe Bryant. Williams even has a Kobe tattoo on his right leg. Not only did Bryant serve as a role model, his early appearance with the Los Angeles Lakers gave Williams an introduction to basketball.
“I like to have fun on the court, but I also like to compete. Obviously Kobe is the exact opposite,” Williams said. “He doesn’t smile much when he plays. But I think how hard I compete, I try to take with me how far the Mamba mentality goes.”
Alum MVP — On Thursday night, Williams will become the first player from Santa Clara to be drafted since Hall of Famer Steve Nash in 1996. Brooklyn, where Nash is now head coach, was one of the many teams that interviewed Williams during this pre-draft. Nash was part of this sit-in.
Offset — The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on sophomore Williams with the Broncos. Due to strict local regulations, Santa Clara moved its basketball operations to Santa Cruz for a shortened 20-game season. Williams played in 18 of these competitions. Amidst the turmoil, Williams’ performance suffered, averaging just 11.5 points, with a career-worst 39.9% from the field and 27.4% from three-point range.
Loaded schedule — Considered one of the draft contenders, Williams has faced the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers. On Monday, he will have his last training session with the Cavs. Among this long list of lottery chasers are San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Cleveland.
“Chaotic, but a lot of fun,” Williams said of the process. “I don’t know if everyone has already seen the Hustle movie, but it’s a pretty good indication of how things went. Late flights. Early workouts. Go through this process and compete with other high-end talents. I’m happy to be where I am now.”
Shooting? Check. The size? Check. Positional match? Yeah. Versatility? Absolutely. The game? Right. Williams brings in the package that Cleveland needs on the wing.
While many of the No. 14 options will contend for a limited number of rookie minutes in 2nd – a crowded position with Collin Sexton, Carice LeVert and Isaac Okoro – a combination of Williams’ size, height, physical maturity, experience and athleticism (runner-up) . -best standing vertical jump at 33.5 inches in combine) should allow him to play 3, which is Cleveland’s thinnest position.
After landing a starring role in Santa Clara last season, Williams made a significant leap as an outside shooter, effective scorer, proficient shot and pick-and-roll maker. He led the team in points and assists, demonstrating the ability to score from anywhere on the floor and put pressure on the opposing defense. He was one of the best players in the West Coast Conference, earning the All-WCC First Team honor.
This success in ball situations, combined with his past point guard, suggests that Williams could help the Cavaliers play a secondary role as a playmaker, managing offense if necessary. Despite his impressive test scores, Williams doesn’t dazzle with speed, explosive power, or athleticism. He is judicious and methodical, plays at the right pace and builds a lead with hesitant moves or speed-changing attacks. It also has the size and length to punch through defenders – around the perimeter and inside. He averaged 1.25 points on a half-court rim, which is in the 73rd percentile. He also scored 1.02 points in the swim (86th percentile) and 0.79 points in the pull-up jumper (53rd percentile).
But Williams’ versatile offside play is attractive. Being in the 97th percentile among half-court catch-and-throw jumpers, it’s interesting to think of Williams getting Darius Garland’s insecure underdog looks rather than the erratic Cedi Osman or the unshooting Okoro.
Many of head coach JB Bickerstaff’s current decisions come down to offense. or protection. It’s a mind-boggling mystery. Even though Williams has had tough spells on defense and needs to improve, he has the tools and mindset to improve with the right coaching approach. Repositioning, not having to constantly protect declarers, can also help.
Williams could be a long-term solution for Cleveland. Finally, a double-sided wing of the starting caliber.
What they say:
Williams — “Teams rarely saw me just because we were a west coast team playing late at night. I am much bigger than I appear on TV and I am more athletic. To be honest, I just play my game and go in there and compete with other guys who are doing the same thing as me. Just show a good, positive attitude throughout your workout. Everyone here knows how to play hoop, so try to stand out from the little things.
Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report, NBA Draft Analyst — “He could get into the lottery. There are not many holes in his game. The only thing is athleticism. I think we overestimate the importance of athleticism. I think skill, IQ and versatility are more important, unless that athleticism gets in the way of you landing punches or finishing punches. Another easy landing. Does he have a star upside down? No. But late lottery, you should probably keep in mind that you probably won’t get a star anyway. You just need a good, quality role player who can give you a few minutes early and fit into any lineup. You can play him on 1, 2 or 3. You can play him with or without the ball. Light and cute baby.
NBA Executive Director — “He is the most active player in this process – and rightly so. The more I watch, the more I like it. Plug and play guy. Can crack rotation at once. I think he’s in the top 20 in this year’s draft.”
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