2022 Draft Preview and Draft Tourney Finals: Braun, Liddell, Williams, Moore
Dream a little dream
Results will be updated at the master index for the 2022 Dub Nation HQ Draft Tournament.
2022 Draft Preview
If you haven’t been following the draft (and why not?? what have you been watching all this time? The Finals???), this is a quick way to catch up. You can go back and read through all the articles linked here for a summary of the most likely draft picks at #28, or just look at what Nate P and I write in this article to get a flavor of these leading prospects.
Your task is to select ONE of the four to move on to the final round. There is no option to “select no one” or “trade the pick” because OF COURSE everyone prefers a great trade and OF COURSE every prospect this low in the draft will be flawed. We’ve moved beyond that.
Vote at Twitter or in the comments (worth 10 Twitter votes).
Just to show the results aren’t fixed, all but one of my guys got crushed in the vote. I am definitely pushing for a high-risk, high-reward swing, and DNHQ strongly feels differently, voting for the safest bets to contribute right away.
We share the Group Stage results, and then the scouting reports and videos for the finalists.
Group Stage Results
Christian Braun 39% ADVANCES
Christian Koloko 31%
Blake Wesley 29%
Bryce McGowens 1%
Nate P says: My vote is for Braun.
McGowens has a trio of negatives that I can't get behind: high usage/low efficiency, not a good 3-pt shooter, and a poor (or disinterested) defender. I just don't see that kind of player succeeding in the Warriors system.
Wesley...hmmm... if we're looking toward this rookie's fit with our future core of Poole, Moody, Kuminga, and Wiseman... a 6'3" high usage/low efficiency guard doesn't seem like the greatest fit.
With Koloko, a seven footer who has improved his free throw shooting from 35% to 73.5% over three college seasons, can finish at the rim and has shot blocking instincts is definitely intriguing... but the fact that he's not moving up draft boards as an athletic seven footer suggests that his weaknesses are too glaring. GM's have been known to make mistakes, but seven footers with talent aren't exactly abundant so they usually don't slide this far unless they're very flawed or underscouted (if they're from a low profile program or another country). It's just way easier to see Koloko being out of the league by the end of his first contract than fitting our system.
Braun has a few things that I actually like enough to think he's one of my preferred prospects: he seems to have great feel on both ends of the court, he has potential as a catch-and-shoot guy on the wing/corners, and he knows how to contribute offensively without being a ball dominant player/primary ball handler. Strength can be added and an offense like the Warriors' can hide some of his other weaknesses. I think it comes down to what DeanonDraft said: "he also doesn’t need that much to go right to be a decent rotation player." I mean, at #28, what more can you ask for?
Apricot says: This playoff run shows the importance of getting a player who can put pressure on the rim off the dribble.
If Wesley comes around, he could be a Poole or Donovan Mitchell, but his shot is erratic enough that you’re betting it can be fixed. McGowens seems to have too many issues compared to Wesley. Koloko seems like you’l get Festus Ezeli for sure and maybe JaVale McGee if all goes well. Braun’s flaws from the Spinella video are: bad self-creation (not an issue in Kerr ball), PNR playmaking (not an issue in Kerrball) and strength (he’s plus athletic in college, so an NBA program could help here). If all goes well, you maybe get a Desmond Bane.
My pick is Wesley as a higher reward / risk prospect, with Braun a close second.
EJ Liddell 47% ADVANCES
Jake LaRavia 40%
Jaden Hardy 9%
David Roddy 4%
Apricot says: This is a rough group for me because
- I love oddball hard-to-project players (Roddy),
- I think GSW should take a high risk high reward swing (Hardy)
- I love Dray type smart players (Liddell)
- I think LaRavia is the most likely to have a role next year
but I’ve finally decided to live by my own code. I said that the top priority is to take a high risk high reward player, and that player is Jaden Hardy, unless there are character issues we don’t know about.
He was a Top-5-pick talent who has fallen due to a terrible start in the G-League and has steadily improved. The biggest thing GSW lacks is a driver who can put pressure on the rim. Today we have Steph (one of the all time greats at that) and Poole who can feast only on non-shot-blocking defenses for today. Oh yeah I have LOTS of concerns! But anyone who falls to #28 with high upside will have serious concerns (or they would have gone in the lottery.
Nate P says. Like many others, this one comes down to Liddell and LaRavia for me.
LaRavia gets my vote.
I’ve mentioned this on the other draft threads already but LaRavia just seems like he is ready-made for the Warriors system. Like I can imagine his style fitting in almost immediately. At this stage in the draft, that’s a big plus.
Liddell looks like he has a much higher upside and the shooting flaws described in the video can be corrected with NBA strength training (i.e. that scissor kick he does with his shot is a tell tale sign of a strength issue. Interestingly, Josh Giddey had the same issue as a prospect and I really felt strongly that he was a top prospect …we’ll see how his shooting evolves tho…). Otherwise, give him a year or so to adjust and I think this guy can contribute and I see how he could maybe have a ceiling of following a similar career arc as Paul Millsap.
What broke the tie for me is that I really don’t believe Liddell will be around at #28 so I’m trying to work the draft tournament system a little bit to keep a player in this thing who I like AND is more likely to be there at 28. 😎 Also, this way I don’t get further attached to Liddell only to be let down later lol So LaRavia it is! (Lol I really just couldn’t decide and I think LaRavia is tailor made for our team … so that was my backwards way of saying I like LaRavia.)
Jalen Williams 66% ADVANCES
Kendall Brown 15%
MarJon Beauchamp 13%
Nikola Jovic 5%
Apricot says: Jovic, I don't see the appeal. He seems so far away. Beauchamp, he's older and a kind of jack of all trades. Brown has the high-upside high-risk profile I like.
I'm torn between Brown and Jalen Williams.
With Brown you're betting that the offensive side comes together and he can play in a complex scheme. With Williams, you're betting that his shot creation translates to the NBA and his 3 point shot sticks.
So I'll go Williams because we already have a Kuminga in the "thermonuclear athlete trying to get solid" category.
Nate P says: My vote is Williams … and it wasn’t very hard for me.
Full disclosure, I came into this tournament with Williams and LaRavia as two of my favorites so I needed to someone in this group to knock off Williams … and I don’t think I got that.
The reason he’s my choice here and others weren’t is I think I have a bias toward skills you can’t really teach: court vision and the combo of length & timing on D. Just about everything else — with maybe the exception of certain shooting problems — can be learned with professional level coaching/development/physical training. But the way Williams — and Jovic, to a certain extent — see the game really stands out this far down in the draft. Williams’ weaknesses don’t bother me much because a) he wouldn’t be a high usage point guard on the Warriors (or anywhere I suspect) and so b) he’ll be more of an off ball defender where his length and disruptiveness will be a real asset. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to think he could be a valuable a piece down the road as late career Livingston, who didn’t have the quicks/athleticism to run point full time but made for a really awesome secondary creator off the bench who could handle some defensive assignments using length alone. If we’re looking for someone down the line to play next to Poole on the wing with Wiseman at center, I think a guy who can contribute as a long help defender, create offense for others, and maybe knock down catch and shoot opportunities is pretty ideal.
Again, I’m not sure he WILL become all that, but he has the requisite tools to POSSIBLY become that, which I’m just not sure the others have. And at this point in the draft, I want guys with the best shot to carve out a career and having some of those skills that can’t really be taught is part of that.
And because of all that, I’m having a hard time believing Williams will be around at 28 … but let’s hope 🤷🏾♂️
Wendell Moore 68% ADVANCES
Walker Kessler 16%
Trevor Keels 11%
Patrick Baldwin Jr. 5%
Apricot says: This group is expecially hard for me, as it really really tests my theoretical commitment to (1) high-risk high-reward, (2) defensive terror big, (3) draft and stash.
Patrick Baldwin Jr is the ultra swing for the fences pick. But the self-destructive choice to play for his dad, plus the injuries, make this a bridge too far for me.
Walker Kessler in a weird way is both the defensive terror and a big swing. The worst case is Shawn Bradley. The best case, if Kessler can somehow defend in space, then you've got a playoff playable Rudy Gobert. But... that's just too big a swing for me.
Wendell Moore is the most likely to stick in the pros, but it isn't a big enough swing for me.
That leaves my pick, Trevor Keels. He was an elite shooter in HS and his small sample size performance at Duke dropped his value a lot, plus his decision to come out a year too early. If that shooting is real and didn't just disappear in college, you combine that with a guy who can get to the rim and draw fouls. Rim pressure off the dribble plus elite shooting is a real tasty package. It's a dream, but #28 is for dreaming.
Nate P says: This came down to Moore vs. Keels to me. I really tried to talk myself into Keels, but he feels further away from contributing even at his most optimistic outcome.
There have been a lot of comparisons to Lu Dort and I get why, but for two guards that relied heavily on their strength to score off the drive I found a key difference: Dort also used his strength to draw a lot of free throw attempts (6.1 FTA/G; FTrate of 48%) whereas Keels really didn’t draw fouls at the rate you’d expect from such a physical player (2.7 FTA/G; FTrate of 27.6%). And I think that’s sort of concrete way of thinking through the impact of some of his weaknesses: he’s not a great finisher because he’s not that crafty a ball handler, doesn’t seem to go left often, isn’t an explosive athlete and doesn’t really have the mid-range game to get defenders off balance. So his game is predicated on bullying his way to the rim, but it doesn’t work consistently against college defenders. So it seems really unlikely that his style of play offensively at Duke translates to the pros, which means you’re waiting on his jumper and hoping teams respect that jumper enough to open up his play making. And while his defense has drawn mixed reviews, people are fairly consistent with the idea that he gets beat fairly easily when put in space/motion because he doesn’t have elite athleticism. Also really concerned about his ability to defend bigger wings unless he can cross match somehow. So I really see an uphill climb for this guy to make it… and I don’t necessarily see a high ceiling at the end of that climb.
If the Warriors were to draft Keels, I would trust Myers & Co. enough to believe that there are intangibles there that make it worth the effort to help him develop into a productive player… but I’m struggling to see it from here.
So it sort of ends up being Moore by default from this group because he has demonstrated clear strengths in college (unlike Baldwin) and I can see how the Warriors system would actually enhance his development given the strengths he has (unlike Kessler).
Group E, the people’s choice, shown out of competition
Nate P says: So … this group is …interesting…
A lot of these guys are worth discussing because they had interesting profiles, but they also all looked like dime a dozen guys … that you might find in the G-League…
So I’m basing my vote for this group on the most superficial thing possible: at just before the 1:19 mark in Dalen Terry’s video, he cut off his opponent’s drive on defense with his superior length and then clapped in the guy’s face before just taking the ball. KEEP THAT SAME ENERGY in the NBA next to Draymond and GP2 and I’ll be a very happy Warriors fan lol
But seriously, his defensive energy was the thing that excited me most of any of these guys so Dalen Terry is definitely getting my vote here.
Also it is not lost on me that Terry’s statistical profile is remarkably similar to Pat McCaw’s … I’m just hoping that putting up similar numbers against a stronger SOS bodes well … https://www.nbadraft.net/players/dalen-terry/
Longer Scouting Reports
Compared himself to: Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks. Why: “The personality that Dillon Brooks brings to the Grizzlies. I would say that some of that is a good comp from me. He’s a 3-and-D guy willing to guard multiple positions. He’s just a guy with a lot of energy, a lot of passion and toughness. He’s got a chip on his shoulder that I think I bring to a team. So that’s someone that I would compare myself to and I think that he does a lot of things similar to me.”
Alex Caruso, Kevin Huerter, Wesley Matthews
HEIGHT 6'5.5"WEIGHT 209
AGE 21.1YEAR Junior
Spirited two-way wing with the athleticism to dunk in traffic and sky in for blocks.
Feel for the Game
Strong off-ball defender who makes proper rotations while also freelancing and baiting opponents into making bad passes. Braun can be a nuisance, and he’s energetic on the ball with the quickness and toughness to battle one-on-one. He’s also an active rebounder, snatching over six per game.
Shot 44.4 percent from 3 as a freshman, then 34 percent as a sophomore, and now 38.3 percent as a junior. So who is he really? If he’s able to shoot like he did during his freshman year, then he’ll be in the league for a long time. His percentage drops off the dribble, but he shot 38.3 percent on all catch-and-shoot 3s this season, according to Synergy.
Capable ball handler in the open floor. He’s comfortable on the break, dribbling with his head up and looking for the open man. In the half court, he’s at his best attacking off the catch to get to the basket, where he’s a crafty finisher using either hand.
Reliable passer who plays a bigger on-ball role for Kansas than he likely will in the NBA. Braun knows how to find the open man in the pick-and-roll and he makes rapid decisions, whether it’s whipping a cross-court pass to a shooter or throwing a bull’s-eye lob. The ball doesn’t stick with him. And given his height, he’s able to make passes others can’t.
Active offensive rebounder who can make big plays on putbacks through contact. He sets a tone with his emotional play, and any team that drafts him should give him the freedom to crash the boards.
Struggled to score efficiently against superior competition, which could be a sign of things to come in the NBA unless he quickens his shooting release. When shooting a jumper off the dribble, he has a slight stutter as he gathers the ball and he doesn’t quickly elevate. Kansas rarely has him shoot off screens and handoffs. He has not scored efficiently in isolations, either, and occasionally passes up open looks.
Though he’s capable of getting to the basket, he doesn’t project as a player who will draw a ton of fouls. So he’ll need to improve his floater. As a freshman and sophomore, he was 7-of-27 (25.9 percent). This season, he's up to 35.7 percent on a higher volume (56 attempts). He needs to get more comfortable and more choosy with his shot selection.
Good news: he measured an entire inch above his listed height at 6’7″, bad news: he is a t-rex with 6’6.5″ wingspan.
Good news: he was actively making all sorts of plays in the scrimmage averaging 26.5 mins, 11.5 pts, 5.5 rebs, 3.5 asts, 1.5 tovs, 2.5 stls. Bad news: he really struggled to make shots 5/15 2P, 4/11 3P, 1/2 FT.
It is nice to see him freely attempt threes as he had an odd decline from 9.4 3PA/100 as a sophomore to 5.5 as a junior. His NCAA shooting signal only looks OK-ish, making 37.8% 3P on moderate volume and 74.9% FT in his 3 years at Kansas.
Braun is in a bit of a weird zone where he does not have any particularly bad weakness, nor does he have any major strength to lean on. He is more or less a 6’7 guy who is OK at everything.
Is that a guy worth taking in round 1? He is not going to be a home run selection, and he may not be an NBA player at all. But he also doesn’t need that much to go right to be a decent rotation player.
Why He’ll Succeed
Very good open floor athlete. Can cover a lot of ground on the break and moves with power and purpose to the rim.
Strong rebounder for a G/F, plays hard without being reckless.
Good shooter with his feet under him, can step right into an off-ball role in the NBA.
Why He’ll Fail
Not really elite at any one thing. Plays hard and plays smart but may not be enough of a physical or skill outlier to be anything more than just another NBA Wing.
NBA Role: Effort player with good athleticism and strong defensive acumen. Mostly a spot up shooter but can help an NBA team tomorrow
College Head Coach 1 (his team played Kansas): The thing about him you appreciate is that every year he’s gotten incrementally better, made significant progress in his game. And he’s really, really competitive. More athletic than people probably give him credit for. We always worried about him just as much as Ochai (Agbaji, Kansas’ star guard), because we knew our guys would be locked on trying to stop Ochai, but maybe not as in tune to Christian. And he was more than capable. He can shoot it. Really good size for his position. He’s smart. He understands how to accept a role on a team. I think he’s going to have a chance to have a good career here, because he’s got some of those intangible things that really translate.
They play a lot of DHO (dribble handoff) offense in general, and he was a big, big part of it, more so than in his first two years, because so much attention was given to Ochai. Credit to Ochai. He embraced that, allowing his good friend and teammate to shine. A lot of DHOs, they played in transition incredibly well. That’s probably the best thing they did. They played with pace offensively, which gave them an opportunity to have some easier looks before the defense got set. He’s not an isolation player at all, but he’s a guy that can come off of screens, make good reads. He’s got a pretty good feel of when to get off of it and space the floor. He wasn’t a guy who we said ‘man, you’ve got to be careful when he’s guarding you.’ But, he certainly was capable (defensively), and that’s where his competitiveness kicked in. He understood his limitations, and he played within those. He didn’t gamble a lot. He wasn’t a guy who was trying to pressure guys all over the floor. He played good, positional defense. He’s a capable defender because he’s got good athleticism. He’s an intelligent kid who really understands who he is and plays to his strengths.
Braun seems to be on the first-round fence. Scouts see a pro, even if there isn't a visible path to upside. In the 20s, it will come down to a team's willingness to settle on adding a rotational player versus swinging bigger.
He helped himself at the combine, where he continued to strengthen his case as a wing who can make plays for teammates on ball screens. It's worth watching how the first few years of his career go if he lands with a playoff team rather than a rebuilding one such as the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kansas won the national title and Ochai Abgaji was its star, but of the team’s draftable wings I actually like Braun a bit better. He’s not the shooter or scorer Agbaji is, but is bigger and younger, and pops off the floor athletically. Kansas played a conservative defensive scheme so he wasn’t heating up the ball a lot, but he’s very good at challenging shots and even blocking jump shots. At 6-6, he could slot up to the three at times.
Braun can’t rank higher because his shot isn’t completely trustworthy, a low-released push that could use more air under it. He shot 38.6 percent from 3 this past season but on low volume; he’s not letting it rip unless it’s an open catch-and-shoot. He also isn’t the most instinctive or polished finishers around the basket. He’s better in transition, where he can use his athleticism more easily, and he passes willingly. Between all that, he has a decent chance of becoming a rotation-caliber wing with enough size to play some three.
Compared himself to: Guys like P.J. Tucker, Grant Williams, Paul Millsap, Draymond. I’d take pieces from their game, offensively and defensively. Like Draymond being able to pass and the heart that all of those guys bring on the defensive end.”
FORWARD Ohio State
Paul Millsap, PJ Washington
HEIGHT 6'5.5"WEIGHT 243
AGE 21.5YEAR Junior
Went back to school to improve as a shooter and perimeter defender, which he has done.
Boasts a muscular 240-pound frame that can handle the rigors of the interior. He played center for most of his sophomore season despite standing at 6-foot-7. He’s an excellent shot blocker, especially in help situations rotating into the paint. In February, he had success defending Illinois star Kofi Cockburn.
Defensive versatility. As a junior, Liddell came back a better perimeter defender than ever. Early in the season, he shut down Paolo Banchero all over the court, and then continued to bother players across positions. In a switching defense, he can handle any position.
Good spot-up shooter with comfortable mechanics. He has improved every season from behind the arc, so defenders close out hard and he’s able to dribble into pull-ups or get all the way to the basket.
Skilled post player who’s at his best facing up because he can take a jumper or attack off the dribble. With his improved shooting range, he has begun to tap into his isolation scoring.
Quality passer who delivers an accurate ball to teammates. He won’t be a primary initiator of offensive sets but he’s skilled in the open floor and can run some pick-and-roll.
To score in the NBA like he did at Ohio State, he’ll need to tighten his ballhandling and improve his first step. He’s a bit loose with his handle by pro standards, which would limit his ability to generate space.
Decision-making could improve. Sometimes he gets tunnel vision and barrels into two defenders, missing opportunities to swing the ball and find an open teammate. However, his role at Ohio State was to score.
Liddell is trying to make the transition from college star to NBA role player after an outstanding three-year career at Ohio State. A 6’7, 240 pound forward with a 7-foot wingspan, Liddell has the length, strength, and improving skill level to develop into a quality NBA four. He made major strides as a shooter every season with the Buckeyes, and hit 37.4 percent of his threes on 123 attempts this year. He also looked a little quicker laterally on the defensive end while doubling his block rate (8.5 percent this season) from his sophomore to junior years. A player like Grant Williams serves as a good model for what Liddell can become if the shooting improvement he showed as a junior at OSU is for real.
Why He’ll Succeed
Very strong player with great balance. Has developed into a very good helpside shot blocker and effort rebounder. Does all the little things, consistently.
Good shooter, especially on the catch. Can punish slow rotations with either a quick shot or the correct pass.
Just a fundamentally competent player in most respects. Plays with poise and leadership. A classic four year player on a good team. Not a priority draft pick but will fall to the exact sort of team that needs him: to provide depth, toughness and consistency for several years.
Why He’ll Fail
While a generally solid athlete, Liddell is just a little too short to really be a dominant physical force in the NBA. Likely best served as a bench warrior for a while.
NBA Comp: Lamar Stevens/Jeff Green
#19 Pick. With former Nuggets boss Tim Connelly now helming basketball operations in Minnesota, it’s a tad unclear right now which direction the Wolves will take with this pick. Considering the state of the roster, with a lot of money tied up in the backcourt, this is a logical spot to eye frontcourt help. While Liddell doesn’t have ideal size for a power forward, he’s a reliable, versatile player who can play around the rim or on the perimeter and fit in a range of lineups. As Minnesota looks to find the right pieces to complement Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, a broadly useful player like Liddell makes some sense as part of the supporting cast.
College Assistant Coach 3 (his team played Ohio State): EJ’s a dog. He can be like the P.J. Tucker, that Draymond Green type. He’s only 6-5, 6-6. He’s built like a tank, like a linebacker. Those calves and legs are like tree trunks. He’s a man. And every year, I can say he’s gotten better. He’s added something to his game every single year, even now to the point where he can defend on the perimeter. He’s an interior guy, a five man. In a perfect world, people don’t realize that Jae Crowder and Jimmy Butler were five men in college. If you can make spot-up 3s and just go and rebound and be nasty guarding people, that’s how he’s got to try and make it and stick long term. If you want to be a superstar in a role, when I compare him to those guys, that’s like the superstar role for them, if they can fill it.
I’m a bit higher on Liddell than most, just because I can’t help thinking that he’s so darn smart that he’s going to figure this out one way or another. Watching him defend against guards is a good example; even though he’s at a speed disadvantage, he plays just close enough to stop them from walking into pull-up jumpers and forces them to dribble into his help.
That IQ translates to other facets, such as his timing for off-ball shot blocks that made him an elite college rim protector despite being 6-7; his 35-inch standing vertical at the combine helps explain why. Seemingly every time I watch an Ohio State game, I see Liddell do some random, clever thing that you don’t normally see from college players.
Liddell added the 3-ball to his repertoire this season, knocking down 37.4 percent on decent volume, and has become a very good pull-up shooter. Despite lacking a deceptive handle, he drew a ton of fouls; his strength obviously helps here and should acquit him well against fours and fives at the NBA level.
Overall, you’d like him to be quicker laterally, especially with his first defensive slide, where now he can look stuck in concrete at times, and you question how much of his offensive game translates to the next level. Nonetheless, I’m buying him as a 3-and-D combo forward who can be effective in a variety of lineups.
Spinella: One scout I spoke with mentioned that the word on the street about EJ Liddell is that he’s not a first-round pick on everybody’s board and is becoming a bit polarizing inside front offices. Some see him as that high-IQ defensive specialist who can fulfill a Grant Williams role, while others are unsure of where the offensive impact comes from to keep him on the floor. It only takes one team to fall in love, but such intel might mean he’s overvalued in media circles right now.
FORWARD Santa Clara
HEIGHT 6'6"WEIGHT 235
AGE 21.2YEAR Junior
Late bloomer who is just beginning to realize his two-way talents.
TJ Warren, OG Anunoby
Feel for the Game
Mature playmaker who stays under control at all times. Selfless passer who can seamlessly pass off the dribble using either hand. On the break, he makes tremendous outlets.
Good ball handler who has improved each year in college. Granted he played at a mid-major, but his height, feel, and vision are translatable at any level. He can facilitate pick-and-rolls and handoffs, or just keep the ball moving when he isn’t involved in an action.
He made 44.3 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s as a junior and looked comfortable shooting in every way imaginable—off screens, handoffs, relocations, you name it. Though he didn’t shoot a high percentage in prior seasons, he always had good numbers from the line and displayed soft touch on floaters.
Talented off-the-dribble scorer who is comfortable dribbling into midrange jumpers, runners, or even 3s. At a minimum, he looks like a player who can run secondary actions and attack closeouts and mismatches.
Does all the things a role player should do, including being a headsy cutter who runs the floor hard in transition.
High-effort defender who, despite a lack of quickness, always stays active and engaged. He has a never-give-up attitude.
Unless he has space to launch, he’s a below-the-rim finisher without much burst off the dribble, so his shot creation could be neutralized. He didn’t pop until his junior season even in the WCC, so there is some risk attached.
Gets a bit loose with his left hand, leading to sloppy drives to the rim.
Sluggish moving laterally on defense, which doesn’t bode well early in his career unless he gets significantly quicker during pre-draft training or in his team’s strength and conditioning program.
Why He’ll Succeed
Strong driver and finisher with a low center of gravity and great balance.
One of the most instinctual and creative passers in this class, specifically off the bounce. Thrives in creating and exploiting small gaps off picks. Downhill creator.
Solid shooter, if not as consistent as you’d like for his entire career. Good FT shooter all three years at Santa Clara.
Exceptional length and broad shoulders make Jalen at least a competent defensive player. Good instincts in general.
Just has that ability to score and create for himself. Finds ways to put the ball in the basket off cuts, OREBs, on broken plays, etc.
Why He’ll Fail
Mediocre run/jump power athlete. Can be slow footed and deliberate.
Needs the ball in his hands a lot to really be effective at this stage.
Same red flags as any upperclassman who suddenly becomes a good shooter.
NBA Comp: Walt Williams/Shake Milton
Williams looked good in all regards in Chicago, as he measured 6’5.75″ with a monster 7’2.25″ wingspan and excellent athletic testing including a tie for the 2nd best standing vertical.
He was also one of the standouts of the scrimmages, where in two games he averaged 24 mins, 15 pts, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, and rarely missed shooting 9/12 2P, 3/4 3P, 3/3 FT.
Williams fits a nice offensive mold as he was a high volume creator for Santa Clara, regularly creating his own shooting at the rim with an excellent 2:1 assist:TOV ratio as a junior who turned 21 shortly after the season. He is a capable shooter making 39.6% 3P 80.9% FT (35.2% 3P 78.5% FT career), although his 3PA volume is slightly underwhelming with 5.2 attempts per 100 possessions.
The main hitch in his profile is that he rebounds like a small guard and does not make the defensive impact that he is physically capable of making.
The variance in his NBA success hinges on how well his 3 point shot develops and how well he defends. He has the physical tools to be a solid defensive player, but his performance thus far leaves a fair amount of downside on that end.
But if those points go reasonably well for him, it is easy to see him as a quality piece that fits in almost any NBA lineup. He was mocked at #43 on ESPN before the combine, and it would not be surprising to see him rise into round 1 based on his showing, as he seems like a reasonable selection in the 20’s.
There has been some chatter that he belongs in the lottery, which would be excessive.
#18 Pick. Rival teams expect the Bulls to explore trade options with this pick, preferably in search of veteran help. If Chicago keeps it, this is an opportunity to add a more experienced college player who can feasibly deepen the bench next season. Williams’s stock has skyrocketed over the past month, and he looks to be on pretty firm footing in the first round. As a well-rounded perimeter player with excellent measurables and the skills to play several positions, he’s easy to envision fitting in pretty much anywhere. This is probably the high end of Williams’s range, but he’s moved the needle in the right direction and would be a nice fit here.
#23. Scouts I talked to have pretty openly admitted Williams was underscouted during the season, a classic Bad Geography Guy in the far-flung West Coast Conference. Even if scouts happened to be in the Bay Area, chances are they weren’t driving the extra hour to Santa Clara when so much other scoutable action was at hand. Now that teams are doing their film work, he’s a guy everyone is doubling back to watch.
Williams was one of the best players in a vastly improved WCC this season, a huge, solidly built point guard at 6-6 who is likely to play the wing at the next level. Williams offers a plus secondary ballhandler who can run the offense in a pinch, and if you buy his shooting development (39.6 percent from 3 this year and 80.9 percent from the line), that’s a very helpful weakside offensive player.
Defensively, Williams would likely benefit from a move to the wing. He has size and mostly opted to stay solid against opposing point guards, but he wasn’t capable of pressuring smaller players into mistakes and mostly opted for low-risk containment strategies. He can be a little stiff, and even WCC guards weren’t afraid of taking him on; he might do better sizing up rather than down, as he seemed more comfortable getting into the body of bigger players closer to the rim.
Williams also isn’t a great athlete, so teams would be buying more on size, skill and feel. But as noted above, he had the moves to fake top prospects like Holmgren out of their shoes and is rapidly losing his “sleeper” status as the league does its homework on him.
College Head Coach 2 (his team played Santa Clara): Really good at the pick-and-roll. Able to work the lead lob play if you step up on him. If you go under, he can step up and make the shot. We had to change the way we played screen/roll two or three times in the game, he was so effective at it. High basketball IQ. When he came in as a freshman, he would always guard the other team’s best perimeter player. And that really impressed me.
Josh Green, Josh Hart, Gary Harris
HEIGHT 6'4.25"WEIGHT 217
AGE 20.7YEAR Junior
Playmaking wing who got off to a slow start in college, but has emerged as a do-it-all player in his junior season who could fill a number of different NBA roles.
Smooth ball handler who’s at his best when straight-line driving against a rotating defense. He runs ball screens with patience and limits turnovers, and he’s a selfless passer with vision and accuracy. He ran Duke’s offense by initiating the pick-and-roll, bringing the ball up the floor, inbounding, and feeding post players. In the NBA he likely projects as a secondary ball handler, but still brings tremendous value.
Crafty finisher with both hands and has a sturdy frame that can handle contact.
Intelligent cutter who understands how to use fakes or the angle of a screen to get himself open going toward the basket.
Moore shoots an easy ball, especially from off the catch. He was a limited spot-up shooter until his junior season, though he’s always shown touch from floater range and the line. His shot used to look rushed, but now it looks calm and controlled.
You’ll often see him fly out of nowhere to crash the boards.
With a near-7-foot wingspan, he has the versatility to switch across positions. He’s even strong as a post defender. When he’s engaged on defense, he appears to take pride in getting stops by focusing off-ball.
Lacks the explosive first step or advanced handle to regularly penetrate deep into the paint, which caps his upside.
Equipped with the handling and shooting touch to become a guy who can hit jumpers off the bounce. His percentages at Duke were not great, though, and he often passes on shots he should take when defenders sag off him in the pick-and-roll.
A chunk of his turnovers, an issue for him in the past, occur on charges because he lacks the shake to get around a defender. He still occasionally commits some face-palm-worthy mistakes, which speaks to his trajectory as a secondary but not primary ball handler.
Since college was a big adjustment for him, the NBA could be too because of his athleticism. He still needs to prove he can sustain success as a shooter after just one strong season at Duke.
Defensive intensity comes and goes. Playing a more minimal offensive role on a winning team would help him learn how to thrive as a high-level role player.
For perspective, there is a similar player to Jalen Williams who has not been building hype currently projected at #36: Wendell Moore. Let’s compare per 100 statistics:
Both are long armed guards who had junior breakout seasons. Wendell is 0.25″ shorter at 6’5.5 and 1.75″ less length at 7’0.5″, and does not create as much offense at the rim but had slightly more assists and offered better rebounding + defense.
Both guys have similarly good FT% and 3PA rate, but Wendell likely gets the edge in shooting based on career FT% (81.4 vs 78.5) and 5 months of youth advantage.
Last and perhaps most significantly, Wendell was a 5* recruit playing for one of the best teams in the country against a major conference schedule. Santa Clara had an excellent mid major season in a good conference, but played a notably weaker schedule and is a much weaker source of NBA talent than Duke.
While Williams has a couple of advantages over Moore and is a fun prospect with a unique distribution of talent, Moore is likely the safer bet being slightly more well rounded coming from a more proven source of NBA talent.
Williams had a good showing at the combine and rightfully deserves some hype for his performance, but it’s worth noting that a slightly better sleeper is currently building no hype and should be available in late round 1 or early round 2.
This is not meant as a slight on Williams since I would also rate Moore above Johnny Davis who is currently slotted at #10 overall, rather an interesting comparison of guys who fall in a similar category of long armed guards who do a bit of everything offensively.
The Warriors tend to value their first-round selections as opportunities to cultivate talent, but they’ll presumably try and integrate James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody into the rotation more next season, creating some hypothetical clutter depending on which veterans they bring back. Moore has an ideal complementary skill set, offering defensive versatility, playmaking skills and the ability to play with and without the ball. He doesn’t profile as a volume scorer, but his unselfish passing, transition play and improving jump shot point to a long-term future as a role player. Moore had a terrific junior year, and his efforts often went underappreciated, but he's a winning player with the type of well-rounded game that can fit in anywhere without creating roster duplication.
Moore kind of got lost as scouts focused on Banchero and Williams at Duke, and he played a more limited role on a talented offensive squad. However, he had a good junior year and won’t turn 21 until September, and his ability to pass, defend, make open shots and score in the open court all make him a strong candidate to become a plus role player as a pro.
Moore could likely stand to improve his finishing and overall scoring package inside the 3-point line, but his rates of rebounds, assists and steals all are among the best of any shooting guard prospect this year, and those indicators usually point toward pro success more than scoring averages. Additionally, he shot 41.3 percent from 3 and 81.5 percent from the line and usually guarded the opponent’s best player. The 3-and-D archetype is pretty clearly there, and in a fairly athletic package that might be able to go up another notch with some conditioning gains.
He has enough length and leaping ability to alter shots when he goes up to contest them, and when he did get beat off the dribble, he had a good chase-down gear to block opponents from behind. He can get a little upright, and it looked like he was trying a bit too hard to avoid fouling; changes of direction also sometimes sent him veering into a ditch. It seems he’s more likely to get picked in the second round, but he has starter upside to go with a pretty high floor.