With the Charlotte Hornets still having a need for interior defense, Mark Williams from Duke could be a target in the upcoming 2022 NBA Draft. Williams offers a skillset that the Hornets don’t currently have on the roster, which I will explain in this profile. Let’s see why the Center from Duke could be an appealing option for the Hornets.
Height w/shoes: 7’0’’
Weight: 242 lbs
College Stats and Awards:
This past season, Williams averaged 11.2 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, and 2.8 blocks per game. He also shot the ball incredibly well with a field goal percentage of 72.1%. In terms of accolades, Williams was awarded numerous times for his stellar play in the ACC. Williams achieved the following this past 2021-22 season: ACC All-Defensive First Team, All-ACC Third Team, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, NCAA West Region All-Tournament Team Selection. Williams was also led the ACC in blocks and ranked 12th nationally in blocks per game.
Defensively, Williams is a phenomenal shot-blocker and rim-protector. While leading the ACC in blocks, Williams is elite in using his length to block shots and has great timing. Not only is Williams impactful in blocking shots, but he is fantastic at altering them as well. To give you an idea of how unique Williams’ length really is, Adam Rowe from 247Sports reported that Williams broke Duke’s all-time records for the longest wingspan (7’7’’) and standing reach (9’8’’).
Williams also possesses decent mobility, which helps with him containing the ball on guard switches or when guarding big men that can face up and drive. He does a good job staying disciplined on pump fakes when guards drive or when big men operate with their backs to the basket. Williams ranked in the 89th percentile defending the basket and in the 91st percentile when guarding the post this past season, which would definitely help the Hornets’ interior defense.
Williams is a big that plays to his strengths offensively and has a simplistic offensive game. He scores on putbacks, duck-ins, running the floor, and lobs. Williams has good hands and dunks often around the basket, which leads to his high efficiency. He also has good instincts when scoring on dump passes and rotating block-to-block depending on which way the ball handler drives to the basket. Williams did show flashes of scoring in the post as well, where he has some touch going over his left shoulder. Overall, Williams uses his length, hands, and mobility to score around the basket at an elite level.
Defensively, Williams needs to add muscle to help with holding position against more physical bigs in the post. He also lacks awareness at times against stretch bigs in pick and pop coverage. He will sometimes zone the screen and then be lackadaisical to recover against the stretch big he would be guarding in that scenario. This will be important in the modern NBA due to multiple bigs being capable of stretching the floor and more emphasis on small-ball, where teams play more perimeter-oriented players in their lineups.
Offensively, Williams doesn’t stretch the floor and is limited in the post. He consistently goes over his left shoulder in the post and has not shown consistency finishing with both hands around the basket. He also has not shown much of an ability to face up in the post either to drive or shoot a mid-range jump shot. Williams has a lot of room to grow offensively but still can use his great length and hands to score around the basket on putbacks, lobs, duck-ins, and when running the floor. Williams plays within his strengths and knows his role as a low-usage scorer, which helps his appeal early on. Once he develops these aspects of his game, he can gain more responsibility offensively.
Williams is one of the best shot-blockers in the draft and one of the best overall defenders in this draft. Combined with his efficiency as a finisher, Williams will go somewhere in the late lottery to the early 20s. Sometimes rookie bigs have a hard time seeing the floor, but Williams’s upside and quality as a defender could help him see rotation minutes early on in his NBA career. Adding Williams to the Hornets would immediately help with their rim protection needs and would provide LaMelo Ball with a lob threat in the half-court in pick-and-roll and running the floor in transition.