19 year old 6’9, 188 pound forward out of Stanford.
Averaged 10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists on 37.4% fg, 29.1% 3, 79.6% ft.
Ziaire is both one of the most exciting yet confusing prospects in the draft. He is the player whose ranking on draft big boards I have seen fluctuate the most, some having him as a top ten prospect while others have him out of the first round. Williams was ESPN’s 8th ranked player coming out of high school but during such a weird season at Stanford he had plenty of ups and downs in his one college season. He has the prototype build that we see with many of the best young wings in the league. His fluidity is something that is very impressive for his size. You can see his soccer background in how fluid his hips are and how smooth of a mover he is. He has some excellent bounce in space and had some electric finishes in transition. Speaking of that ability in the open court, that is an area that intrigues me a lot. As someone who can be a solid rebounder he either showed off some impressive outlet passes to his teammates or an ability to just take it all the way by himself. He also showed off some split second decisions to get his team easy baskets often. That playmaking trait is something that does excite me quite a bit. Though he only averaged 2.2 assists I see a future where he can be a bit of a point-forward and a secondary playmaker for a roster. From his interview with Mike Shmitz you can tell that he is a person who loves making the extra pass and getting others involved. I always love when someone, especially a scorer like Ziaire, is all about not just getting a good shot but a great shot. His best playmaking chops came out of the pick-n-roll where he made very quick and precise passes to the big man rolling to the basket. As this passing continues to improve then he will be able to expand his offensive role by varying the type of actions he can run. Now onto his ability to create for himself this is his most natural area. He is a shifty ball handler who can rise over defenders with ease. My favorite move of his is his stepback which he creates a ton of space on and that is one of those moves that is one that all elite creators have. Out of the corner he was very good at using effective fakes and jab steps to get into a one or two dribble pull up, looking like Carmelo Anthony at times in that shot corner. The way he blows by a man and then stops on a dime to pull up was excellent. He also showed off a nice floater in that in-between area, I hope he continues to work on this because I think it can become a great weapon in his arsenal. Though his three point percentage was poor I am not very worried by it personally. With him having a solid form as well as a good free throw percentage I think it is a skill that will come along. His biggest issue as a shooter is just how inconsistent he is right now, he would always have short stints of good shooting but then long stretches of not being able to hit anything from outside. I think what he should do to iron out these inconsistency issues is get a ton of reps in as a catch and shoot player, he is clearly a more comfortable as a self creator shown in him being in the 53rd percentile off the dribble while he is in the 16th percentile off the catch (via https://rollcallsportsnet.com/ziaire-williams-nba-draft-scouting-report/). Now onto his defense this is yet another area of inconsistency but there are plenty or exciting signs. When locked in he showed the lateral quickness and length to guard multiple positions at a high level. He can be someone that guards the other team's best perimeter player no matter what position they play and in a league that values versatility as much as the NBA does that is very valuable. I was very impressed by his ability to guard ball screens where he showed a great ability to get skinny at times and navigate around big bodies with ease. He was able to limit opponents to shooting only 37.4% and 45% in the pick-n-roll which is supremely impressive. The impact he can make off the ball is very exciting. He was able to frequently make great contests with his length and even blocked a good amount of outside shots. I think he can be a menace in the passing lane as he continues to get smarter on defense and reads the game. There were some great moments of him making weak side rotations to come out of nowhere for blocks or contests. I also got very excited to see him risking his body for charges.
By far Ziaire’s biggest weakness is consistency. His season at Stanford was so up and down that it can make it hard to evaluate how good he actually is. Personally I am giving him the benefit of the doubt as it was a challenging season for everyone at Stanford but if others were to be more concerned I could not blame them. He needs to improve his consistency as a shooter to reach his potential as a player. Form wise I think he could get a little more steady but I think this is something that will come along after persistent work from Williams. There are some bad misses/airballs in there that do worry me a bit though. His tendency to take very challenging shots often also lowered his percentages as he tended to force the issue. The next very big issue that he has is his weight and strength. At the basket he only shot 53.8% which is very poor, this mostly came from a lack of strength. There were many times where he struggled to even get to the basket because even a glimpse of physicality stopped him in his tracks entirely. He took poor angles to the hoop often which led to a lot of bad shots or him having to pass out of shots as well. Around the basket he just got absolutely bullied and in the NBA where everyone is going to be strong he could have a lot of problems. It was honestly difficult to watch him at times because no matter if he tries to absorb contact or avoid contact it does not work either way. Even though he was a solid vertical athlete in space, in traffic he is not that explosive which is yet another reason to his struggles. Physicality continued to give him trouble when it came to turnovers as strong defenders bullied him and he just lost the ball often. I am worried about when he is going to have to match up against guys like Luguentz Dort who are going to torcher him with their core strength. Going back to his problem with forcing the issue this apparead a lot of a passer as he lacked patience and tried to make plays that simply were not there. Defensively a lot of the same issues continued to reappear. Effort was far from consistent as there were plenty of lapses. Closeouts were very rough at points as he frequently got blown by without much resistance. He lacked speed while retreating and got bodied by more physical players. At many times opponents just fazed through him because he lacked the muscle mass that most did. While he was not directly engaged on defense he had the issue that many other young players do off getting caught ball watching which lead to a lot of moments of him having late closeouts or getting beat on backdoor cuts. Guarding screens was yet another area of inconsistency. There are moments of him getting skinny and navigating around screens beautifully but he needs to do this on a more consistent basis.
What I Rate Him As A Prospect
Where He Fits Best
Houston Rockets: Taking a swing on someone who could slide in the draft but has extreme upside is exactly what a rebuilding Rockets team should do.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies need wings for the future so getting someone like Ziaire who can develop behind veteran wings and bring them much needed creation.
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