Grant Williams' 2019 NBA Draft Scouting Report: Analysis of Celtics Pick

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJune 21, 2019

Tennessee forward Grant Williams plays against Purdue during the first half of a men's NCAA Tournament college basketball South Regional semifinal game Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics have selected Grant Williams with the No. 22 pick of the 2019 NBA draft. 

The back-to-back SEC Player of the Year, Williams has been one of college basketball's best forwards, but there has always been debate about his NBA potential. He strengthened his case to scouts this year, showing improvement in key areas from scoring and passing to rebounding and defending. 


Quick hitters

Size: 6'7½"

Weight: 240.2 pounds


Reach: 8'8½"

Pro comparison: PJ Tucker 


Offensive strengths

Williams' body type always raised questions, but he improved it heading into his junior year. He weighed in 240.2 pounds with a 5.4 percent body fat at the combine after shooting 66.9 percent at the rim and ranking in the 94th percentile on putbacks. He ranked in the 97th percentile on post-ups, having developed baseline spin moves and the ability to elevate high for balanced short fadeaways. He also averaged 3.2 assists, showing high-IQ passing instincts. Williams improved his touch to make 81.9 percent of his free throws and 44.0 percent of his 100 half-court jumpers.


Offensive weaknesses

Williams is a below-the-rim athlete, as he lacks explosion and standout height and length for a power forward. He still isn't comfortable shooting with range, having finished his third season 15-of-46 from three. Williams also isn't a major threat to face up and attack from behind the arc. Scouts question whether he can create enough separation for himself offensively, particularly after struggling to score efficiently against second-round prospects at the combine. His 9.4 rebounds per 40 minutes are also low.


Defensive outlook

Williams' defensive IQ is tremendous. His 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals tell only a portion of the story. He does an excellent job anticipating and making reads that don't show up in box scores. He has the chance to be a disruptive post defender and tough-to-shake perimeter defender. His combination of toughness, awareness, strength and foot speed hints at high defensive potential.


Rookie-year projection

Williams has the chance to be a surprise rookie contributor based on his physicality, skill level and intangibles. The coaching staff could feel comfortable giving him early minutes thanks to his defensive discipline and offensive efficiency. He won't give off rookie vibes. His maturity should become obvious. Williams may not be playable every night while he looks to become a more threatening spot-up shooter, but he'll get his opportunity for reserve minutes. 


Projected role: Defensive role player

Williams has clear limitations that suggest his ceiling isn't high. Some scouts are wary about whether his game can translate. However, he should be able to carve out a role with his defensive effectiveness and toughness. It seems reasonable to expect Williams to eventually extend his shooting range. In between, he'll make good decisions and passes and generate some offense for himself in post-up situations. There are difference between him and PJ Tucker, but Williams could be a similarly valuable role player who doesn't need to score to make an impact.


Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference.


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