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NBA Draft 2022: Jalen Williams could fill the Cleveland Cavaliers’ biggest need

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — For the first time since 2018, the Cleveland Cavaliers are not in the top five of the NBA Draft. When a team has the 14th pick, the last pick in the lottery, they are not in control of the outcome. Evan Mobley or Darius Garland will not come. Not a small group of prospects to pick from this year. Sources tell cleveland.com that the front office has about 10 players on its first-round radar, trying to identify the best mix of talent and form.

The countdown is on. June 23 is fast approaching.

In the days leading up to the draft, cleveland.com will examine a handful of prospects who could realistically be in play for the Cavs in their expected range.

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Next up: Santa Clara swingman Jalen Williams.

Biography:

Statistics 2021-22: 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 51.3% FG, 39.6% 3P, 80.9% FT

Years: twenty-one

Height: 6-5 ¾

Weight: 209

Wingspan: 7-2 ¼

Position: shooting guard/wing

Things to know:

growth spurt — Considered the ninth best prep player in Arizona, Williams hit a late growth spurt, adding a total of eight inches from his sophomore year of high school to his freshman year of college. A point guard early in his career, with natural playmaking instincts and strong ball-handling skills, Williams’ rise will lead to a change in position. Still, he has the IQ and skill set to play all around the perimeter.

Mamba Mentality — Wearing number 24, Williams idolizes the late Kobe Bryant. Williams even has a Kobe tattoo on his right leg. Not only has Bryant served as a role model, but his early appearance with the Los Angeles Lakers gave Williams an introduction to basketball.

“I like to have fun on the court but I also like to compete. Obviously, Kobe is the opposite,” Williams said. “He’s not really smiling when he plays. But I think how hard he competes is something that I try to carry with me as far as Mamba Mentality goes.”

MVP Alumnus – On Thursday night, Williams will become the first Santa Clara player drafted since Hall of Famer Steve Nash in 1996. Brooklyn, where Nash is now the head coach, was one of many teams interviewed by Williams during this pre-draft process. Nash was part of that meeting.

displaced — The COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected Williams’ sophomore campaign with the Broncos. Due to strict local protocols, Santa Clara moved its basketball operations to Santa Cruz for an abbreviated 20-game season. Williams played in 18 of those contests. Amid the tumult, Williams’ numbers suffered, averaging just 11.5 points as he shot a career-low 39.9% from the field and 27.4% from 3-point range.

Busy schedule — Considered one of the rising stars of the draft, Williams has met with the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Clippers. He will have a final workout with the Cavs on Monday. Among that long list of chasers, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Cleveland are in the lottery.

“Chaotic but a lot of fun,” Williams said of the process. “I don’t know if everyone has seen the movie ‘Hustle,’ but that’s a pretty good indicator of what it was like. Late flights. Early workouts. Go through this process and compete with other top talent. I’m excited to be where I am right now.”

About Fit:

shooting? Check. Size? Check. positional adjustment? Yes. Versatility? Absolutely. Game creation? By the way. williams brings the package Cleveland needs on the wing.

While many of the No. 14 options would be vying for limited rookie minutes at 2 — a crowded position with Collin Sexton, Caris LeVert and Isaac Okoro — Williams’ combination of size, length, physical maturity, experience and athleticism (second-best 33.5-inch standing vertical jump at the combine) should allow him to play 3, which is Cleveland’s skinniest position.

Propelled into a prominent role last season at Santa Clara, Williams made a breakthrough as an outside shooter, efficient scorer, astute shotmaker and pick-and-roll creator. He led the team in points and assists, displaying an ability to score from anywhere on the floor and putting pressure on opposing defenses. He was one of the best players in the West Coast Conference, being named First Team All-WCC.

That success in blocking situations, combined with his experience as a point guard, makes it reasonable to believe that Williams could help fill the Cavaliers’ supporting role as playmaker, running the offense if needed. Despite impressive Test numbers, Williams doesn’t overwhelm with quickness, explosiveness or athleticism off the rebound. He is cerebral and methodical, playing to the right rhythm and creating separation with hesitation moves or speed-changing attacks. He also has the size and length to shoot over defenders, on the perimeter and inside. He scored 1.25 points per shot around the rim at half court, which ranked him in the 73rd percentile. He also scored 1.02 points per jumper (86th percentile) and 0.79 points per jumper (53rd percentile).

But Williams’ all-round offensive game, with the ability to be an off-the-ball asset, is appealing. Ranking in the 97th percentile in catch-and-shoot jump shots in the half court, it’s exciting to think of Williams on the receiving end of those open looks created by weakside Darius-Garland rather than the erratic Cedi Osman or non-shooter Okoro. .

Many of coach JB Bickerstaff’s current lineup decisions come down to offense. either defending. It is a maddening puzzle. Even though Williams had tough times defensively and needed to improve on that front, he has the tools and mindset to improve with the right coaching. The change in position, not having to defend point guards full time, can also help.

Williams could be Cleveland’s long-term solution. Finally a bidirectional wing of initial caliber.

What they are saying:

williams– “Teams haven’t seen me much just because of the fact that we were a West Coast team playing late at night. I’m much bigger than I look on TV and I’m more athletic. Honestly, I’m just playing my game, getting in there and competing with other guys who are doing the same thing as me. Just show a good and positive attitude throughout the training. Everybody here can play hoops, so try to do the little things to stand out.”

Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report, NBA Draft Analyst — “He could enter the lottery. There aren’t many holes in his game. The only one is athletics. I think we overestimate the importance of athletics. I think skill, IQ and versatility are more important, unless that athleticism is really keeping you from shooting or finishing. Another easy fit. Does it have a star upside down? No. But late lottery, you probably have to keep in mind that you probably won’t get a star anyway. You just want a good quality role player who can give you minutes earlier and fit into any lineup. You can play it on 1, 2 or 3. You can play it with or without a ball. A nice, easy going guy.

NBA executive – “He is the one who ascends the most in this process, and with good reason. The more I see it, the more I like it. Boy ready to go. He can figure out a rotation immediately. I think he’s one of the top 20 in this year’s draft.”

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