76ers

2019 NBA draft profile: Grant Williams doesn't fill an obvious need but could still be a steal for Sixers

2019 NBA draft profile: Grant Williams doesn't fill an obvious need but could still be a steal for Sixers

As far as college success, Grant Williams is among the most accomplished players in this draft class. He won SEC Player of the Year his sophomore and junior seasons at Tennessee and was a consensus first-team All-American last year, when he averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. The 20-year-old Williams was part of the Sixers’ pre-draft workout group on June 8, which included Oregon's Louis King and Villanova’s Eric Paschall and Phil Booth.

  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 6-foot-7 
  • Weight: 240 pounds 
  • School: Tennessee 

Strengths 

Williams’ long list of strengths has to start with … his strength. His 20 bench-press reps at the combine were most of any player. He knows how to use that strength, too, and is excellent at drawing fouls, finishing through contact and muscling away opponents to earn post position and grab rebounds. As the hub of Tennessee’s offense, Williams was masterful operating from the high post and elbow regions as he showcased his ability to find open teammates, hit mid-range jump shots, seize offensive rebounds and generally make winning basketball plays in high-pressure situations. Defensively, Williams’ intelligence and competitiveness are outstanding foundational tools. He led the SEC in defensive win shares.

Weaknesses

At his workout with the Sixers, Williams acknowledged the weaker parts of his game. He doesn’t have an obvious position in the NBA, he didn’t get much experience guarding on the perimeter in college and he shot 29.1 percent from three-point range in his three seasons at Tennessee.

“I’ve never really believed in positions much because in this league nowadays, it’s not what you play on offense, it’s what you can play on defense,” Williams told reporters. “No matter how big or how small you are, if you can guard multiple positions and be versatile, I feel like you have a place in this league.”

The best case for Williams is he can indeed stay in front of perimeter players in the NBA while also being capable of defending power forwards and centers in smaller lineups. The worst-case scenario is he doesn’t quite have the necessary lateral quickness to guard wings, and that, despite having a soft touch and shooting 81.9 percent from the foul line last season, his range doesn’t comfortably extend to the NBA three-point line. 

Fit 

Williams is not a player who fits into a neat category, such as an elite shooter like Dylan Windler or an athletic big man like Daniel Gafford. He could help the Sixers’ bench right away as a player who can be used in a variety of lineups, and who has offensive skills besides the ability to catch and shoot. Senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley has said the Sixers will prioritize need in the second round (see story), which could hint at an openness toward taking the best player available at No. 24. If Williams is still on the board when the Sixers are up in the first round, he might very well be the best player left. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

There are positive signs, but still glaring issues with Sixers

There are positive signs, but still glaring issues with Sixers

After dropping their second straight game in overtime Friday night in Oklahoma City (see observations), the Sixers at times sounded like a team looking for answers.

More of that is likely struggling to answer questions coming off another brutal loss. They have an idea why they’ve lost five of their last seven after starting their season 5-0. A large part of it is a group with a bunch of new faces that are still figuring each other out. On Friday, fouls were an issue as they allowed the Thunder to attempt 41 free throws.

For a team that has championship aspirations and got off to such a hot start, this isn’t where they expected to be 12 games into the season.

“Obviously we're frustrated,” Tobias Harris said to reporters postgame. “7-5 is not where we want to be. It's early in the season and right now we're going to progress and get better and figure out ways that we can help each other and help our team and go from there. This game is over. Tomorrow, we'll watch film on it, we'll find out which ways that we can better ourselves and be ready for the next game. [We’re] 7-5 right now but ... we'll just go into the next game and be ready to get that win and go from there.”

There are reasons for optimism — with Harris being arguably the biggest.

After missing 23 straight threes and looking lost recently, Harris splashed his first trey of the game and looked like a totally different player. He finished with 21 points on 8 of 16 from the field and 3 of 4 from three. He was much more aggressive and decisive than he’d been in the previous two games.

Josh Richardson, returning to his native Oklahoma, has continued to show signs of improvement. He poured in 28 points, his highest total as a Sixer. More importantly, he’s looked much more comfortable in the offense as he figures out his role.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons both had their moments. Embiid had a game-high 31 points and Simmons broke out after a quiet first half to play the entire second half.

One of the team’s biggest issues is figuring out the pairing of Embiid and Al Horford. The reality is Horford has never played with a center like Embiid who demands the ball and attention offensively. It’s been an obvious adjustment for Horford, who shot just 5 of 12 Friday and has done most of his damage with Embiid off the floor.

The uncomfortable offensive fit for the entire starting five has been a big reason the Sixers have been involved in so many close games. A familiar theme emerged Friday, as the Sixers held a nine-point advantage with 7:20 to go in the game. Instead of hitting the gas and putting the Thunder away, they gave up a 12-2 run and saw their lead evaporate.

These are talented players that have won in different places. They’re still learning how to win together.

“I was just telling Al about that,” Harris said, “and really it's just I think a matter of right now we are yet to be up like eight points and push that to 15 and really push what we're doing and move forward with that, and really imposing our will and dominating. And that's something that we have to get to and that's something I think we're still learning — how we can do that and how we can make those type of runs. That's something we definitely got to get better at.”

The good news is you see the talent and recognize some of the issues.

And Brett Brown has 70 games to figure it out.

“If you're sick and you don't know why, that's a problem,” Brown said. “We are in a tough spot right now, but it's a long year. I think that it doesn't take much for me to understand where we have to get better. And it's really that simple. If you're scratching your head, sort of confused, then I think we got some problems and that's not what I'm doing. I think the guys understand the areas that matter most that can best impact changing the way things are going and get back on the winning side.”

They know the problems, now they just have to answer the questions.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers Talk podcast: What went wrong in OKC?

sixers-talk-okc-ben-simmons.jpg
NBCSP/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: What went wrong in OKC?

Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss Brett Brown's decision to have Furkan Korkmaz play key minutes in overtime, using more pick-and-rolls with Joel Embiid, and the loss to the Thunder.

• Should Brown have gone to Korkmaz when Tobias Harris fouled out in overtime?

• Do the Sixers need to rework their offense?

• The starting lineup looked good at times, but what went wrong in OKC?

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers