Having missed the playoffs in 14th consecutive seasons and in desperate desire to break that streak, it’s tempting to want to use this year’s lottery pick to fill a positional need rather than take the best player available.
Fortunately, Patrick Williams checks both those boxes.
Given the way Williams has shot up the draft board over the past few months, it’s surprising that he was still available at no. 12 in the SB Nation Blogger Mock Draft, but the Florida State forward is exactly what the Kings are looking for to add to their young core of De’Aaron Fox and potentially Marvin Bagley. Williams is only 19 years old and is full of upside while still producing at a high enough level in college to be excited about his current ability.
That intrigue starts with Williams’ physical gifts. He’s 6’8 and 225 pounds, and his athleticism pops off the screen, whether that’s in his powerful dunks or his ability to close gaps in help defense. His best position could eventually be the three, where he can deployed as a wing stopper, but he projects as a combo forward and can play the four while his perimeter offensive game develops.
The Kings have needed a defensive presence on the wing, and Williams should be able to help soon, if not immediately, on that end of the floor. He has really good instincts and is disruptive off the ball, manifesting itself in his 1.8 blocks and 1.8 steals per 40 minutes. He is a great rim protector as well, which allows him to make plays in help defense. It’s too early to tell if he can defend all five positions, like his fellow Seminole product Jonathan Isaac, but defending two through four is a really good start.
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Despite not starting any games as a freshman and not exactly posting prolific scoring numbers, why should 6-8 Florida State product Patrick Williams be viewed as a potential top-10 pick and one of the more intriguing long-term combo forward prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft?
Detroit Bad Boys pointed out that Williams was one of only five players over the last decade to shoot at least 83 percent on free throws while having a block rate of at least five percent and a steal rate of at least 2.5 percent. Among the four others were Matisse Thybulle and Robert Covington, who were both seniors when they hit that mark. Williams has achieved this defensive production as a freshman.
On offense, Williams can do a little bit of everything, even if he doesn’t have a calling card quite yet. He makes the simple reads out of pick-and-roll and has the bounce to get past his defender and all the way to the basket, where he can finish with both hands. He shot 32 percent on 50 3-point attempts but ad 83.8 percent of his 74 free throws, which is historically a better predictor of shooting ability. Williams’ height also suggests that he’ll be able to get his shot off against most defenders. Per Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer, Williams ranked in the 90th percentile nationally in points per possession as the pick-and-roll ball handler and was in the 70th percentile when shooting off the dribble.
Williams was a sixth man in college, and it was encouraging to see him find a niche as a defender rather than squeeze more possessions out of an offense that already had enough talented playmakers and scorers. He did what was necessary to win, whether that was passing to the open man, screening off the ball, or communicating on defense, all in service of helping Florida State win the regular-season crown in the best conference in college basketball.
Ricky O’Donnell’s first 2020 mock draft at SB Nation had everything we needed to know about Williams:
The youngest NCAA prospect in this year’s draft, Williams is a long-and-strong 6’8 combo forward who offers defensive versatility with the hope of spot-up shooting and supplemental playmaking. Defensively, he’s big and strong enough to provide secondary rim protection in the front court after posting a 5.6 percent block rate with the ‘Noles.... NBA teams always need big wings. Williams has the potential to be an impact player if continues to flush out his skill set.
Sacramento has its lead point guard of the future in Fox, but more play finishers are always welcome. Williams can fit right in a fast-tempo offense while also contributing on the other end. He is exactly the pick the Kings wanted.