NBA draft: Jalen Williams' size and vision in backcourt would help Raptors

The Raptors need more reliable ball-handling from their guards, and Jalen Williams would add that plus some versatility on defence. Listen to the full episode on the best options for Toronto at No. 33 on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed, or watch on YouTube.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: We're going get really specific. We did a podcast the other day, and it was looking at more of an overarching look at some of the players at the Raptors may draft. But, now with Corey, we're going to get really, really intricate with it. And we're talking five to seven, eight names-- something like that. And I would think that it's probably going to be one of these guys, just based on their profiles. And thankfully, Corey has done some great research. And we're going to go through the names and how they fit. First off, Jalen Williams-- not to be confused with Jaylin Williams of a different school.

COREY TULABA: Yes, Jalen Williams from Santa Clara, not Jaylin Williams from Arkansas-- two very--

AMIT MANN: Although he's coming up, though. He's also coming up as a Raptor player.

COREY TULABA: He's-- two very different players, though.

AMIT MANN: Yes.

COREY TULABA: Jalen Williams from Santa Clara is a 6' 5", 6' 6" guard with a 7' 2 and 1/2" wingspan, who, to me, is one of-- you know what? I don't even know if I can consider him a true sleeper in the draft community anymore, which he was through most of the process. He's kind of gotten a little bit of shine recently, especially after the combine-- after he tested really well athletically and measured really well. But I think-- for fans that are maybe still tuned in to the NBA season and haven't switched over to draft mode yet, I think he's one of the true sleepers in this draft because this is a kid who played on the West Coast late at night.

You know, I'm from New York. People on my side of the country-- we're not staying up to watch guys like him on with that time zone. We've got work in the morning. You know what I mean? We've got to wake up. So a lot of people probably hadn't seen him play a ton of basketball. But when I look at the way that he plays the game-- and maybe it's particularly from this draft, specifically. I love his playmaking so much. I think he's one of the three best playmakers in this entire draft. I think that he could be the best playmaker. And again, I think that says a lot about the point guards in this class.

But he does stuff with the ball that really makes you open your eyes and go, wow, that was really impressive. That's NBA-level stuff. And he does it attacking closeouts. He does it operating out of the pick and roll, where he plays with such a maturity, a poise-- plays at his own pace. It really feels like he's been doing this for years as a five-year vet. And then he could score too. He could shoot. And, you know, one of the interesting things about him is that when he was in high school, he was like 5' 10". But he still had really long arms and big feet. So he was kind of clunky and awkward, which is something that happens as people grow into their body.

So he had to kind of learn to finish below the rim with all these really crafty finishes. And he still has that in his game, even though now he's grown. And he's more athletic. And he knows how to use his athleticism. So he's one of those guys who has athleticism but doesn't have to use it. And I think the really high-feel, skilled players-- that's the trend. That's the direction of the modern NBA game. And I just feel like he's a perfect fit. I do think that he's one of the guys that may go a little bit earlier-- a little bit before the Raptors pick. But, to me, he is a no-brainer. If he's on the board, run to the podium and take him.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, I mean, that's the only thing that comes up for me-- that he may not be there at that spot. But everything you're talking about is absolutely right. He even shot 40% from three. And there's still room for growth with his jump shot. And then, on the defensive end, you can see those natural skills there. He has a nose for the ball. And he's very good at screen navigating, getting in passing lanes, and taking rollers and cutters. I think, from that perspective, he's going to work on the defensive end. And if you are not doing that on the Raptors, then you're probably not going to play. So it's very good that he's doing that. What are your thoughts on the other Jaylin Williams? Do you think he's going to be at 33?

COREY TULABA: I think there's a much more realistic chance. I think that when you get to the second round, there's a lot of political stuff behind the scenes with agents. The Raptors are picking early, so I think that there's probably a little bit less of that. But I think his range really could be from the back end-- like, 27, 28, 29-- to, like, he might go in the 50s, you know? I think he really has that wide of a range as far as where he could land. So, could he be there? I would say that he probably will be there. But there's always a possibility that a team like the Warriors-- if they decide to keep their first-round pick-- is like, oh, we could use some frontcourt depth. There's always that possibility.

AMIT MANN: A sneaky theory that I have is that a lot of players like Jaylen Williams-- and this kind of goes to what you're talking about-- that they just may not be drafted as early as we potentially think, just because the 6' 8" three and D is at such a premium these days that teams are just like, we have to get some of these guys because we're falling behind. Look no further than the Warriors and Celtics and the Phoenix Suns-- Toronto Raptors. These players are really important nowadays. And the trend could change.

But right now, I would think that there are a lot of teams thinking that we've got to address this. And we've got to dress as quick. And fortunately, this is why the range is so vast for a lot of these players-- that they may not have the skill of a person at the 20th overall. But because of the skill that they have-- the height, the wingspan-- they might go earlier. And I would love to see him be on the Raptors because I think he'd really help. How that affects players like Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton, other guards, is interesting.

But the Raptors-- they do need help here-- more playmaking, more ball handling. It's cool that they got Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam doing it. And I think that's an important part of their half-court offense. But sometimes you just need someone else to hold the ball. And it can't be Fred VanVleet. That's why he got injured. He was on the ball way too much. He had to handle it way too much. And then he broke down. He hurt himself. And then the Raptors lost to 76ers. I don't want to see that happen again, right? So they need someone else. And I think Jaylen Williams-- it could be in spot minutes. It could be-- I mean, he's already a very smart player. So you could see how he could potentially-- come playoff time in 2023, maybe he's able to solidify a role as he gets more experience. I like the pick. I just don't know if he's going to be there. But I hope he is.

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