Jalen Williams: 2022 NBA Draft Scouting Report
Nobody was a bigger winner at the NBA Draft Combine than Williams. Just how high is he deserving of rising?
Draft Twitter’s favorite son is finally getting mainstream attention.
Santa Clara isn’t a popular basketball destination for scouts. Hidden in the middle-upper tier of a crowded West Coast Conference, the Broncos are routinely overshadowed by Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU. There are more teams than just those three with top-tier talent, though. At Santa Clara, the have flown under the radar as a result, but have a former major conference coach in Herb Sendek at the helm and a legitimate star in Jalen Williams.
Williams is under the radar no more. After a long Winter and Spring of niche draft coverage highlighting his rare combinations of size and skill, this week’s NBA Draft Combine was the official coming out party for Williams. Trusted friend of The Box and One Rafael Barlowe was in Chicago for the Combine and tweeted out this gem:
This wasn’t an out of the blue remark from Rafael, either. The whole week seemed to be building up to that point. Jalen tested remarkably in terms of measurements: 6’5” with shoes and an astounding 7’2” wingspan, the type of differential that is rarely seen. With a solid frame and adequate athletic testing, Williams popped off the page from a measurement perspective.
Then Williams followed that up by being one of, if not the single, best players in the scrimmages. Scouts undoubtedly love his competitiveness in not only playing, but playing a second day instead of withdrawing when his stock was at an all-time high. The competitiveness and confidence in betting on himself will certainly be admired.
So here’s the major question: how much of this is simply buzz after an impressive showing and how much is legitimate lottery-level talent?
To us, the answers lie in the film. What Williams did at the Combine was prove he is one of the better guys in a scrimmage setting. But there were very few guys who received first-round grades who participated in 5v5 play. Proving himself as a lottery talent can only be done when trying to see how he stands out next to that level of prospect.
In the WCC, Williams got few opportunities to play against the top-tier guys, and his team wasn’t quite good enough to make the NCAA Tournament. But an NIT berth, looking back at early-season games against TCU and Stanford, and impressive flashes against Gonzaga have helped parlay Williams into a legitimate lottery threat.
His role in the NBA isn’t overtly clear, but what is apparent is that he’s simply a good, well-rounded basketball player. Williams can score it on all three levels, make some exquisite passes, handle, play physically and with touch, be active on defense and guard multiple spots. He’s a do-it-all wing with a 7’0” wingspan, and those guys tend to get valued as role players with high upside.
Just how high can Williams rise? The ceiling on his draft stock should be at 12 with Oklahoma City. As their organization values length and playmaking, Williams would fit in and provides no positional redundancy to their established stars or whoever they’d pick second overall.
For us, Williams isn’t quite a lottery level talent. There are so many tools here to like, especially with his skill in the pick-and-roll. But Williams doesn’t play incredibly athletic; he’s a good athlete but doesn’t utilize it a ton in the half-court. Nor is he a dynamic shot-maker; he’s got a good volume of pull-ups, floaters and rim attacks but he isn’t either an elite space-creator nor a reliably tough-shot-maker.