The big man is back in fashion in the NBA. Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo released from this year’s MVP. The Warriors and Celtics had a versatile front line to defeat them, with Al Horford and Robert Williams III starting in Boston and Kevon Looney and Draymond Green in the Golden State. Although tempo, space and a small ball continue to determine the league, big players have now migrated to the perimeter, as shorter players did for the first time years ago.
More great men with perimeter skills are on the way. In the top three of Thursday’s 2022 NBA draft, the two could hear their names. Gonzaga Chet Holmgren is one of the best blockers to hit the league in recent years – and he can be defeated in 3 seconds. Duke’s Paolo Banchero is an advanced striker for his age as both a game manager and a scorer. Even a 6-foot striker Jabari Smith Jr. could play 5 in the future. The steady growth of the stars also requires teams to respond to find greats who can compete with inner size. and switch to perimeter scorers.
“It shows how much basketball has developed,” says Mark Williams, a 7-foot-long, 242-pound center who should go in the middle of the first round. “There was a time that went small, and before that you had a more traditional 5. Now it’s a combination with men who can do a little bit of everything.”
Williams, who played alongside Banchero, averaged 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in Duke’s second year. Originally, he is a high-flying striker who can perform his duties in an attack by running on the floor, rolling hard to the edge, finishing inside and grabbing the offensive board.
It is more suited to a throw-in form with a wingspan of 7 feet by 7 feet and a range of 9 feet by 9 feet, the second highest in history after Tacko Fall. Players like him do their best to adapt to a changing league where defending a 7-footer who can hit the perimeter is the norm.
When Williams was asked which game best showed his overall skills last season, Williams pointed to Duke’s victory over Gonza at the start of the season. “We were both invincible at the time. It was a real big stage in Vegas. And obviously there were a lot of jumps in the game before,” says Williams. I also simplified things in this game. I defended without mistakes, I tried punches, I just did a little bit of everything.
Williams blocked six strokes, showing the ability to raise his hands straight to challenge the strokes of effective college posters such as Drew Timme. His shot came in from the right hand side but Jürgen Schneider managed to save it with an unbelievable reaction stop. He looked like an interior filler, but also showed the switchability that makes Time Lord a player for the Celtics full defense team, not just a weak-hit blocker. The same is true of Looney, who went to Luka Doncic in the western finals after colliding with the tables. The big ones must be able to survive at least externally.
At Duke, Williams was inconsistent as he tried to move sideways with outside scorers. However, he improved after his freshman season to become competent as a second-year student. He chases and shows the ability to perform different schemes, be it a drop or a hedge. While training in Miami this summer, he says he is working on his mobility to be as versatile as possible.
The team that compiles him will help him make significant progress in this department, just as the Nets did with Jarrett Allen or Jazz Rudy Gobert. Because Williams players are demanding, especially on affordable contracts, Duke’s sophomore has strengthened himself as a potential lottery pick. Memphis center Jalen Duren is also expected to draw, while the other three centers (Walker Kessler, Christian Koloko and Ismael Kamagate) will all go late in the first round or early in the second round. But after Holmgren and Banchero, Duren or Williams are chosen as the first center.
“It would probably be pretty cool to get the lottery. It’s definitely something I want,” Williams said. “But in the end, eligibility is paramount.”
Last week in Washington, Williams told reporters that his preparatory training has been with the Wizards, Spurs, Knicks, Hornets and Bulls. They all choose between ninth and 18th place.
Williams has a sister, Elizabeth, who graduated from Duke and finished fourth in the 2015 WNBA draft. He won the title of most advanced player in 2016 and became an All-Star in 2017. Mark saw how his sister achieved her dreams when she was in ninth grade, watching basketball change before her eyes. That same year, Roy Hibbert played his last season in the NBA at the age of 30, just three years after being named the winner of the star tournament. Steph Curry turned Gobert into a meme. And Brook Lopez’s postman suddenly became a deep shooter. Too change. The big ones needed to protect the perimeter and hopefully shoot 3s. Throughout his career, Williams has had no obligation to shoot. But that’s something he’s been working on in preparation for the NBA.
“It’s getting to the point where when the defender retires, I have the confidence to hit,” Williams said. “I’ll keep evolving and beating with confidence, but I think it’s definitely considered more than just the basis of my game right now.”
As a sophomore, he hit five of the nine jumpers, according to Synergy. It’s a small sample, but it also rose from 53.7 percent to 72.7 percent after focusing on it the previous summer. Williams has gone from a projected selection in the 1920s to mid-teens, thanks in part to his progress. In college, he was struck by impressive blows, including a rebound from the right baseline against the state of Michigan. In the pros, he just has to shoot three downtimes, like Lopez, Jonas Valancinuas, or one of the many greats who have stretched his games behind the line so he can play with everyone on the front court.
“I’m working the way I want it to be right now,” Williams said of his success in the NBA. “It probably won’t work. But I have to keep working on my game, even if I don’t get a chance to do things right away.
When Williams is drafted by a team with a more used pick-and-roll creator, such as LaMelo Ball in Charlotte or DeMar DeRozan in Chicago, his main job would be to sift through and finish off with force. Gonzaga resisted Holmgren’s poster.
As tempting as Williams’ highlights are, he says he is as satisfied with doing the little things the center is asked to do as a hint at the offensive board.
“It may not be cute, but it will help you win,” she says.
The NBA changed, but the big man was never dead. A wave of superstars and stars in their roles have just entered the league. Williams’ draft team hopes to be another big one who does a little bit of everything.
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