NBA Draft: Jalen Williams offers intriguing Bulls fit originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Bulls own the 18th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Their options with that selection, should they keep it, are plentiful.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, NBC Sports Chicago will examine a handful of prospects that could be in play for the Bulls in their expected range. Next up: Santa Clara wing Jalen Williams.
Name: Jalen Williams
School: Santa Clara
Height: 6-5 ¾
Wingspan: 7-2 ¼
2021-22 Stats: 18 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.2 steals | 51.3% FG, 39.6% 3P, 80.9% FT
Three Things to Know
- Williams is poised to be the first Santa Clara player drafted since Hall of Famer Steve Nash in 1996: Coincidentally, Nash participated in the Brooklyn Nets’ interview of Williams at the recent NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
Few players’ stock has risen as dramatically as Williams’, fueled not only by his strong rookie season but an impressive showing at the combine. Beyond his strong play in scrimmages, Williams tested extremely well, including a second-best standing vertical leap of 33.5 inches.
- The pandemic impacted all college sports, but Williams’ sophomore season felt it acutely and dramatically: The program shifted operations from Santa Clara to Santa Cruz because of local COVID-19 protocols and only played 20 games.
Williams’ shooting suffered, dropping to 39.9 percent overall and an unsightly 27.4 percent from 3-point range. That made his progressions during his junior season even more notable.
- Williams experienced a significant growth spurt in high school, growing four inches: Prior to that, he had played plenty of point guard and has maintained strong ball handling and distribution skills. Scouts tout his already adept ability in pick-and-roll situations as a skill that can translate to the next level.
The Bulls missed on a recent pick from a mid-major program in Chandler Hutchison. And in theory, Williams projects to what the previous managerial regime hoped Hutchison would be — a rim-wrecking force in transition with ball handling skills and an NBA-ready body.
Scouts point to Williams possessing an instinctual feel for the game. He reads the floor well, cuts with purpose, looks to advance the ball in transition. Those skills sound like they’d fit into the defense-into-offense approach the fully healthy Bulls used to rise to the top of the Eastern Conference.
He shot nearly 40 percent from the shorter 3-point line last season and has a quick release that bodes well for the faster and larger closeouts he’ll face at the next level.
Williams needs to improve defensively. But his vertical leap of nearly 39 inches and plus-wingspan suggest he has the tools to do so.
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