NBA Draft '19: Emmitt Williams Season Preview
Position-less basketball is the future.
I mean, we've always seen outliers that go against the dimensional & role-based stereotypes the make up the 5 spots on the court; Oscar Robertson, Dave Cowens, Magic etc. However, the modern priority on offensive mismatches - & being able to mitigate them on defense - means that versatile players are more valuable than ever (imagine how much Scottie Pippen or James Worthy would be getting paid today.) Incoming LSU freshman Emmitt Williams has already shown impressive flashes of versatility & is hoping that it continues in his nascent career as a college hooper.
Originally hailing from Lehigh Acres in south-western Florida, Williams appears to be another perfect example of the modern Swiss Army knife player; he is the same size (6-foot-7, 215lbs) as elite guards RJ Barrett & Cam Reddish (both 6-foot-7 & 205lbs), yet plays as a high-rebounding power forward. After getting noticed for his natural athleticism & explosive play at Oak Ridge High School of Orlando, Williams appeared at a number of summer invitational tournaments. He took full advantage of these occasions, averaging 17.1 points & 11.3 rebounds per outing at the 2017 Nike EYBL summit. Offers from Oregon, Florida, & Louisiana State came quickly; after very little time, Williams committed to the Tigers.
Most of Williams' success comes from being a high-energy player, with his offensive repertoire consisting of lobs, put-back dunks, & strong-if-not-pretty inside finishes at the hoop. His elite hops & his bulldog mentality mean that he's also a strong second-chance creator via his ability to grab offensive boards. As is usually the case with young spark plugs, he can be a bit of a bull in a china shop at times, although that's probably more of a strength than a weakness for an undersized four. While not recognized as a floor spacer, Williams has shown some promise from deep, albeit from a VERY small sample size. If he's going to carve out a professional career as a sub-6-foot-9 forward, he'll want that promise to develop into a reliable enough weapon to lure defenders out from the restricted area.
Defense is where he really shines, though. There's nothing stopping an excellent offensive rebounder & dunker from also being an excellent defensive rebounder & shot blocker, & Williams hasn't needed to be taught this. As powerful as his dunks are, his blocks are somehow even more powerful; his naturally combative attitude motivates him to go for every shot in his vicinity, while his 6-foot-11 wingspan allows him to interrupt shots around the rim & from further out. Of course, these traits mean very little until we've seen them reliably & repeatedly against pro-quality opposition, but the platform to build on is there.
Overall, Williams played solidly all through high school & kept his cool while under the scrutiny of scouts (& a scandal in 2017 where all charges were dropped). Even though he turns 20 a full 7 months before the 2019 Draft (his first year of eligibility), he has managed to maintain his five-star college recruit status as a top-25 NCAA freshman (he would probably project higher if not for his age). If he puts together a solid freshman season in Baton Rouge, then 2019 could be the perfect time for Emmitt Williams to switch from the NCAA to the NBA with ease.