Potential Sixers Draft Target – Patrick Williams

This 6’8 two-way freshman from Florida State has declared for the NBA Draft. How does Patrick Williams project at the next level? How would he fit with the Philadelphia 76ers?

OVERVIEW

According to Rivals, Patrick Williams was a 5-star recruit out of Charlotte North Carolina. He was the 20th best recruit in the nation and 3rd best small forward in the country. Williams received offers from Arizona, Virginia and Louisville before committing to Florida State in November 2018. From high school, Williams brought a ton of expectations to Florida State due to his excellent size and skillset.

Patrick Williams followed a similar path to ex-Seminoles Jonathan Isaac and Malik Beasley. Williams averaged 9.2 points and 4 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game his freshman season. He was a key reason why Florida State was 16-4 and on top of the ACC before the season was suspended. Williams was named 2019-2020 ACC All-Freshman as well as 2019-2020 ACC Sixth Man of the Year. From blocks, steals and shooting, Patrick Williams showed he can impact the box score in all levels.

A two-way prospect oozing with defensive potential…

On March 26th, Patrick Williams announced that he will enter his name as an early candidate for the NBA Draft. In his statement on declaring for the draft, Williams said “I decided to do it because I think my game isn’t NBA ready, but I have the potential to be NBA ready.” Patrick Williams is hoping that his measurables and potential are enough for an NBA team to select him in the first round. According to most scouts, Williams is a projected to be a mid to late round first round pick.

STRENGTHS

  • Can play in the pick and roll: Patrick Williams projects to thrive in the pick and roll at the next level, both as a roller and as a ball handler. This is a very intriguing prospect with a very good handle and size. He can pull up off the bounce, attack the rim and finish with either hand. A potential 6’11 wing as a ball handler in the pick and roll should have most NBA teams salivating.
  • Thrives in the catch and shoot: Patrick Williams showed NBA range with his shot from beyond the arc. He shot 32% from three on 1.7 attempts per game with Florida State. Free throw shooting is very translatable, where he shot 83.8% from the line on 2.6 attempts per game. He had a true shooting percentage of 55.3% and showed he can impact the offense with and without the ball. He’s got clean mechanics and shown the ability to shoot on the move.
  • Can defend multiple positions: From the eye test, Patrick Williams checks all the boxes. He’s got great size at 6’8 and 6’11 wingspan. He had an excellent defensive rating of 94.1 during his freshman season at Florida State. He generated 2.5 steals per 100 possessions and showed improvement on his ability to anticipate passing lanes. His 5.6 block percentage was 5th best and his 4.8 defensive box plus/minus was 10th best in the ACC. Patrick Williams shows potential to be able to defend the 3 and 4 spots at the next level and could thrive as a 4 in a small ball lineup. Even better, Williams has some rim protection that could allow him to play the 5 in small ball lineups down the road.

WEAKNESSES

  • Experience: Patrick Williams is a very raw prospect, especially on offense. Despite having a clear advantage in size, Williams only scored in double digits 13 times his freshman season at Florida State. Similar to Jonathan Isaac at the time, this is a prospect that will require patience and development at the next level to continue honing his shooting and preparing his body for the rigors of the NBA. While he has tools and a lot of room to grow, he needs to learn the little nuances of the NBA game. These include becoming a better roller to the pick and roll and a better weapon during mismatches in the post.

FILM HIGHLIGHT

The first thing that stands out about Patrick Williams is his combination of size, handle and athleticism. Here, Patrick Williams strips the ball, runs the court and throws it down in effortless fashion. For someone standing at 6’11, he has smooth athleticism and shows plenty of room to grow on both ends of the court. This is why many consider Patrick Williams as a mid to late first round pick.

No, that’s not a guard on the perimeter, intercepting the pass and running the court. That’s a 6’11 wing named Patrick Williams. Williams’ ability to switch on defense and defend on the perimeter is one of his biggest selling points. Despite being a freshman and only 18 years old, he did not play like it at Florida State. He’s got a very mature game for someone his size and age. He’s a very humble man who takes pride in putting effort on the defensive side of the court.

Here is a good glimpse of what Patrick Williams can bring on offense. He’s solid at cutting to the basket and uses his athleticism well around the rim. In terms of shooting, he’s got NBA range and his length makes him a menace on the offensive glass. Patrick Williams averaged 7.1 rebounds per 40 minutes at Florida State.

For someone who is 6’11, his handle is incredibly impressive. While he settled for too many mid-range jumpers, here is takes his defender off the dribble and pulls up for a jump shot. Williams’ ability to create his own shot is very unique for someone his size and speaks to his potential down the road.

Watch how light Patrick Williams is on his feet. Here is a glimpse of Patrick Williams’ defensive prowess on the perimeter and during closeouts. He’s got a modern NBA game with quick feet. Williams’ in a phenomenal two-way prospect that oozes potential.

For me personally, it’s Patrick Williams’ potential in the pick and roll that makes him such an intriguing prospect. Above is a good glimpse of Williams scoring and moving the ball while facilitating the pick and roll. While still raw, his combination of very good handle and shooting makes him a potential pick and roll weapon.

POSSIBLE FIT

It’s beyond obvious to see how Patrick Williams fits with the Philadelphia 76ers. This is a modern basketball prospect that can defend multiple positions and projects as a 3&D wing in the NBA. Guys that can stretch a defense and switch on defense are extremely valuable in today’s game. While Williams only shot 32% from beyond the arc as a freshman, he shot 83% from the free throw line. Patrick Williams projects to have solid NBA range at the next level.

Looking at the Sixers roster, I thought Matisse Thybulle had a solid rookie season. But let’s face the facts, as of right now he’s a defensive specialist. He was a major impact player on defense while shooting 37.1% in the catch and shoot. Most importantly, Thybulle’s ability to defend guards unlocked Ben Simmons’ defensive versatility on the court. Matisse is a core piece of the team moving forward and possibly a championship quality role player down the road.

Are the Sixers willing to wait for Patrick Williams to develop?

I find it difficult to see the Sixers drafting Patrick Williams in the first round. While 3&D prospects are always highly valuable, utilizing a high pick on a similar prospect to Matisse Thybulle is highly doubtful. Matisse Thybulle’s role on the Sixers will continue to expand next season. Thybulle played 19.5 minutes per game and I could easily see that number expand to roughly 25 minutes per game next season.

Patrick Williams is extremely young. He’s 18 years old and I just don’t think the Sixers are in a position to wait. There is also a lot of overlap with what Patrick Williams brings to the roster. Matisse Thybulle and Patrick Williams are sort of similar: they are both strong, team defenders who can space the court. As prospects, I find Thybulle as a more impactful player on defense due to his elite team defense and ability to defend 1-4.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The future of the NBA is positionless basketball and it’s easy to see how valuable Patrick Williams could be at the next level. Patrick Williams is very raw and will most likely require further development to hone his skillset in the G League. His defense is very translatable at the next level and has potential to make an immediate impact, but it’s on offense that Patrick Williams needs the most seasoning.

It would be wise for the Sixers to add an offensive punch to the roster in the first round of the NBA Draft. The Sixers were 21st in the NBA on offense while 6th best on defense in 2019-2020. Patrick Williams is a very intriguing prospect, especially as a pick and roll ball handler down the road. However, he just doesn’t fit what the team need at the given moment or the Sixers win-now timeline. Is Elton Brand looking at the present or keeping an eye towards 2-3 years from now?

Patrick Williams would thrive in Connor Johnson’s offensive scheme in Delaware…

A season of working on his shooting and preparing for the physicality of the NBA in the G League is the likely path for Patrick Williams once he’s drafted. The Sixers currently have the 34th and 36th picks in the second round. If Patrick Williams somehow falls into the second round, watching a 6’11 wing facilitate a pick and roll offense with the Delaware Blue Coats would be too good to pass up. If I was Elton Brand, I would look elsewhere in the first round of the NBA Draft.