Peachtree Hoops wraps up its NBA draft scouting report series with a look at Ziaire Williams out of Stanford.
Big wings are perhaps the most coveted position grouping in the NBA in 2021, and Ziaire Williams fits that build perfectly. At 6’9 with a 6’10.5 wingspan, he has great size on the wing. What makes him a projected first-round pick is that he is a gifted shooter on top of possessing great size. Toss in flashes of defensive potential, and you have one of the highest upside 3&D prospects in the 2021 class.
Experts have varying opinions in regards of exactly where to rank Williams on their respective big boards. ESPN ranks the prospect No. 28 on their best available, while Sam Vecenie has Williams almost in the lottery at No. 15. Vecenie’s higher ranking could reflect that he’s more confident in Williams’ ability to make big strides as a shooter and playmaker.
Williams’ shooting talent outmatches the production he had in his lone season with the Cardinal. He’s shown flashes of being good on both catch-and-shoot as well as off the dribble. With seasoning, there’s a lot of reason to believe Williams can be a good-to-great shooter in the league. At his size, that is a very big deal.
Williams is both shifty and has great burst to go with his elite size on the wing. While he profiles as mostly a shot creator, he did have 147 possessions with Stanford as a pick-and-roll ball handler as well. He wasn’t particularly efficient overall in P&R, but it’s good that he has a lot of reps nonetheless. As far as passing in general goes, Williams is not special in that area but is unselfish and generally makes accurate simple reads with timely and accurate passes.
A bouncy and fluid athlete, Williams ideally would have done more in transition with Stanford, but he wasn’t particularly efficient as a decision maker in that area. The big draw with Williams offensively is the shooting, the speed/burst and the size, if he’s able to knock down shots, he’s going to be in a rotation somewhere.
Williams is extremely light (185 lbs.) for his size, with a really skinny frame. He will struggle early on when he has to go in the paint, there’s little way around that. He has the athletic ability to pull off chasedown blocks and intercept long-range passes, but if he’s switched in the paint against an NBA big, don’t expect that to end well most of the time until he’s able to add some strength and weight.
More importantly, though, Williams has the lateral speed to hang on the wing, which completes his 3-and-D profile. He’s not a Cam Reddish type defensive prospect, but he should be adequate on the wing and has great size. Reddish obviously is great on the wing but also can handle the point of attack, something Williams likely won’t do much of. Williams probably won’t be the best defender on his team at any point in his career, but he can hang and use his size to make things tough for secondary options, and could potentially be a guy you throw at No. 1 wing option once he bulks up and gets his feet wet in the league.
Fit with Hawks
If the smoke that Reddish is being traded turns out to be more than smoke, Williams would be a logical fit to replace him, though there may be better options at No. 13 if the Hawks acquire Indiana’s pick. In a vacuum, 6’9 players who fit the 3-and-D mold are great to have, but especially when your point guard is Trae Young and you need all the size you can find around him defensively. If the Hawks stick at No. 20, Williams is a great value there in my opinion. He could be depth on the wing, and then, if/when the Hawks do move one of their rookie scale wings, he could step into the rotation for a bigger role.