'Positionless' Patrick Williams an intriguing draft prospect for Pistons
With less than a week until the NBA Draft, there is still plenty of work to be done before the Pistons pick at No. 7. They’ve gone through months of projections, film study and discussions, and with new general manager Troy Weaver, they have a new lead in the front office who has vast draft experience.
Through much of the predraft process, many experts have had the Pistons picking a point guard, with Killian Hayes and Tyrese Haliburton getting most of the attention. If the Pistons didn’t pick a point guard, the other options included Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu or Isaac Okoro.
This week, another name entered the fray: Patrick Williams.
Williams, a versatile 6-foot-8 forward from Florida State, previously had been projected as a late-lottery pick but recent speculation has him going in the top 10 — and there are rumors he may have a draft promise from the Pistons, if he’s still on the board.
“The hottest draft rumor is that Williams has a promise from the Pistons, or at the very least that they’re extremely interested in him. Killian Hayes is the other name I’ve heard here, but at a much, much lower volume,” John Hollinger of The Athletic wrote this week.
“A Williams pick would track with everything we know about their front office. A year ago they took the youngest player in the draft, a long forward from France named Sekou Dombouya. Williams is the youngest collegian in this year’s draft.
“Secondly, the Pistons seemingly had interest in Williams even before Troy Weaver became the GM. And then, as the capper, look at Weaver’s history in Oklahoma City: It’s one raw, long-limbed, combo forward after another. Williams could not fit more perfectly into that profile.”
It's a huge jump for Williams, who is regarded as a good prospect because of his length, including a 7-foot wingspan, and his ability to shoot and guard several different positions on the perimeter.
A draft promise, though? That would be something.
During a media call Thursday, Williams created more intrigue by not giving any details about teams that he’s worked out for or interviewed with in the predraft process.
“I'm obviously trying to work as hard as I can every day. My agent and I are kind of keeping team workouts in-house and between us,” Williams said. “I've been getting in the gym every day, trying to do the best I can and trying to get better every day. That's been the focus for now.”
Williams, 19, played just one season at Florida State and had decent numbers: 9.2 points, 4 rebounds and 32 percent on 3-pointers. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but with a developing prospect, most teams will look at the potential upside.
Williams projects as a good perimeter defender who is athletic on the offensive end, plays several positions and can hit open shots.
“It's not a secret that every rookie coming into this draft has things going on and room to grow. I don't really look at that too much. I don't look at the word potential too much, because I know everybody has potential,” Williams said. “It's going to be dependent upon who maximizes that potential. So just being able to show that I can do so many different things on the court -- guard (four positions) and play (all five positions). Positionless ability and positionless playmaking is what we've been pushing and showing.”
During the NBA playoffs, the Miami Heat put on a display of what positionless basketball can look like. From having Bam Adebayo playing center to having four guards on the court at one time, the days of traditional lineups seem to be abating.
That’s where the Pistons could benefit from Williams’ skill set, in using him as a small-ball center or a do-it-all forward who can play more minutes because of his varied abilities.
“Just being able to play different positions and make plays at different positions," Williams said. "In today's NBA, you might have Draymond Green at the (power forward) or Andre Iguodala. I think you saw it a lot with the Miami Heat in the playoffs, you had pretty much all guards on the floor. Being able to switch everything and guard every position and play every position on the offensive end helps each team. So, I think that's one of my biggest strengths at 6-8, 230, being able to do everything.”
Seeing how it goes in the six picks before the Pistons select will dictate much of the Pistons’ strategy and whether they go for a point guard or look to another position.
Promise or no promise, Williams likely will be in their range.