NBA draft profile

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. 

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2019 NBA draft profile: Sharpshooter Dylan Windler can help Sixers' bench, but will he be there in second round?

2019 NBA draft profile: Sharpshooter Dylan Windler can help Sixers' bench, but will he be there in second round?

Position: Guard/Forward

Height: 6-8    

Weight: 196

School: Belmont

In addition to being an excellent basketball player growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana, Dylan Windler was also an outstanding golfer. After his successful career at Belmont — and the fact that he’s 6-foot-8 — it’s clear Windler stuck with the right sport.

Windler’s college career culminated with a virtuoso performance that landed him on the NBA’s radar. After making the Ohio Valley Conference’s First Team as a junior and senior, Windler led the Bruins into the NCAA Tournament. He had a quiet game in a play-in win over Temple, but Windler nearly led an upset of Maryland with a 35-point effort. He averaged a double-double as a senior with 21.3 points and 10.8 rebounds a game while shooting just a tick under 43 percent from three.

Strengths

His most translatable NBA skill is his jumper. He has a silky smooth lefty stroke and shot over 40 percent from three over his four years in college. His size and length give him the ability to shoot over defenders. He also features a decent step-back shot and can create a little space with his handle and length. Offensively, he may be able to stick on the wing thanks to his ability to move without the ball and also put it on the floor.

On the defensive end, there is hope that he could play a combo forward role. He has the size and length to hang against fours and showed glimpses of athleticism that make you think he could stay in front of wings. He’s also an outstanding rebounder. His basketball IQ is excellent and he makes a ton of hustle/winning plays which should help greatly in carving out a role. His maturity showed in a big way when the Sixers brought him in for a workout last week.

Weaknesses

The athleticism is there in glimpses, but he didn’t play against a ton of great competition in the OVC. While he was outstanding against Maryland, his performances against the other top teams he faced don’t inspire a ton of confidence. He struggled to find space and forced up a lot of bad perimeter shots as the focal point of Belmont’s offense.

Will he be able to move his feet well enough to cover quicker wings? That’s still to be determined. When he worked out for the Sixers, he mentioned that he’d put on weight during the pre-draft process. I’m not really sure where he put it on because he’s still very skinny. He definitely needs to put on muscle to handle NBA athletes.

Fit

The Sixers need shooting and scoring. Windler certainly fits that criteria. On a team where he’s not expected to be “the man,” he could fit in nicely as a spot-up shooter right away. He also plays hard and isn’t afraid to do the little things. That should be appealing to a team like the Sixers who need players like that to surround their stars.

In the second round, Windler is a great option, but there are mocks that now project him in the first round. Pick No. 24 is probably a little too rich. If he’s there around picks 33 and 34, he’s definitely worth taking a flyer on and could develop into a solid bench option.

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NBA draft profile: Duke G Grayson Allen

NBA draft profile: Duke G Grayson Allen

Grayson Allen

Position: Guard

Height: 6-4

Weight: 195

School: Duke

For a good chunk of NBA players, their first professional season is all about adjustments. Adapting to a new city/teammates, the speed/physicality of the game, increased travel, etc.

Another major change is going from being mostly revered in any arena you step inside to instantly becoming a target of fans’ abuse away from home.

That won’t be a problem for Duke product Grayson Allen. He was the subject of just about every taunt imaginable during his four years as a Blue Devil. And while a lot of the criticism he brought on himself, Allen has matured and now simply lets his game do the talking.

Strengths
Allen’s biggest asset is that he’s a chameleon on the court. 

You need him to provide a spark on a team full of stars? He becomes the energizing sixth man like his freshman season when Duke won a national title. Want him to be your go-to scorer? He turns up the offense such as his sophomore campaign when he averaged 21.6 points a game on 46.6 percent shooting. Need him to run the show? Allen morphs into a primary playmaker similar to his senior year when he recorded a career-high 4.6 assists.

In all, Allen posted 14.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steal a night during his collegiate career. He also proved to be a capable long-range shooter as he connected on 38.0 percent of his three-pointers.

Not bad for a guy that was under constant scrutiny because …

Weaknesses
… Allen couldn’t control his emotions on the floor.

There were the well-documented tripping incidents and ensuing suspension. Allen also was known to lose his cool on the bench when things weren’t going his way between the lines.

“It’s something that comes from my competitiveness,” Allen said to reporters at the combine. “Competitiveness that I’ve had as a player, competitiveness that was pointed in the wrong direction and went over the line. It’s obviously something that I needed to work on.”

And while the Jacksonville, Florida, native was able to finally get his emotions under control, he’s only going to be tested even more at the next level by trash-talking players and fans.

In addition, the fact that Allen stayed at Duke for all four years is viewed as a bit of a knock in the NBA. While he tested the waters multiple times, his decision to remain in Durham is seen in some circles that the now-22-year-old was never fully comfortable making the leap in competition.

NBA comparison
A hated Duke player that plays the shooting guard position? Has to be JJ Redick, right? 

While there are certainly some comparable experiences between Allen and Redick, that’s not an actual basketball link we’re ready to make. Instead, Allen is much more in the mold of Miami guard Tyler Johnson. Both players have sneaky athleticism, can handle the ball and stretch their jumpers out to the three-point line well enough for opposing defenses to respect their range.

How he’d fit with Sixers
The Sixers hosted Allen for a private workout earlier this month under the watchful eye of then-president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo. While Colangelo has since resigned, the team’s interest in Allen still makes sense.

He would be able to spot up alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to knock down open shots, while also being able to take on the burden of ball-handling duties when asked. 

He may struggle to stay in front of some of the quicker players in the NBA, but he does have the explosion at the basket to make up for it and one of the best rim protecters in the game in Embiid if he gets completely beaten by his man.

Draft projection
Allen’s name can be found popping up for teams selecting anywhere from the early 20s to early in the second round. If his name is still on the board at No. 26 and the Sixers are still holding onto that pick, they will give some consideration to choosing the versatile guard.

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