Grant Williams: Defense

Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.


 
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On-ball defense

Williams is a disciplined on-ball defender who stays down and challenges shots without fouling. His strength enables him to stand his ground in the post, and he does a good job of boxing his man out to prevent second chance points. On the perimeter his defense is a bit shakier; he isn’t able to switch hips quickly enough to defend faster wings, which limits him to guarding slower wings and forwards, and he has proven vulnerable to change of direction moves. He does a good job shifting his feet into active defending position before the ball arrives, which helps out some.


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Off-ball defense

Williams is a strong off-ball defender that consistently positions himself well. He does a great job in one pass away situations, playing with a high motor to deny his man the ball. He is an active communicator when away from the primary action, calling out rotations and directing traffic for teammates. His high IQ and general court awareness on the defensive end will make him slot into nearly any defensive scheme early on and at least hold his ground.


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Help defense

Williams is a quality help defender that knows where he needs to be and contests shots using his length without fouling. He sometimes gets caught out of position and lacks the agility or explosiveness to recover quickly enough. However, he consistently nails help rotations, and is alert not just to his own responsibilities but also to covering for teammates that read the play incorrectly.


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Switching

Williams is effective at switching situationally. He is fairly good at bottling up penetration for short bursts, though quality change-of-direction ball-handlers can get by him. He has a tendency to overplay the ball-handler on pick-and-rolls, sometimes leaving the screener wide open if they pick-and-pop in order to contain penetration (this is at least partly schematic). He’s capable of switching for a limited duration, but can be exposed on high switches where the the guard is able to reset the offense and attack him in isolation.


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High impact plays

Williams is able to generate events in a variety of ways on the defensive end. He has shown quality rim protection instincts, able to elevate with strength off two feet and challenge shots at the rim. He does a good job disrupting passing lanes in one-pass-away situations, often working his way around the offensive player for a steal. He also has active hands when defending on-ball, particularly in the post where he can use his strength to hold his ground and knock the ball loose by anticipating his opponent’s move.