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Alan Williams is Worth a Look Next Season

The Summer League is often a lie. NBA fans want to believe everything they see during the only competition during the offseason, but quite frankly, the Summer League just isn’t that predictive of future success. However, sometimes a player is so good that it defies normal Summer League logic. That player this summer has been undrafted rookie Alan Williams.

The California-Santa Barbara product not only didn’t hear his name called on draft night, but he also played just 8.1 minutes per game for the Charlotte Hornets in the Orlando Summer League. That low minute total didn’t give Williams enough time to showcase what he can do. Fortunately, the advanced stats oriented Houston Rockets legitimately gave him a try in Las Vegas.

Williams averaged, wait for it, 20.5 points (ranks fifth in the Summer League), 11.8 rebounds (ranks first in the Summer League) and two assists (to only 0.5 turnovers) while shooting 50 percent from the floor, equating to an astonishing 34.8 PER in four Las Vegas Summer League games. The immediate success for Williams shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering how dominant he was in college.

The 6-foot-8, 261-pound big man finished his four-year career at UCSB with a 31.4 PER over 3,026 minutes. He especially found his groove as an upperclassmen, averaging at least 17.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.8 blocks during his final two seasons. The Big West is a weak conference of course, but those numbers are still staggering. His junior season was impressive even for his standards.

Williams averaged 21.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 2.4 blocks while shooting a career-best 53.3 percent from the floor.  His PER rounded out to a ridiculous 35.7, which is only behind Kelly Olynyk as the highest PER in Sports-Reference’s database (since 2009-10). The other two players with at least a 35 PER in a season are Mike Muscala and some guy named Anthony Davis.

Conditioning issues, lack of height and a down (for his standards) senior season scared away NBA teams come draft day. Williams was viewed as a player who dominated poor competition and flashed few skills that would translate to the NBA. He’s quickly showing NBA teams how wrong they were:

Williams kicked off the Las Vegas Summer League with a 27-point, 10-rebound showing in only 29 minutes. He abused defenders in the post all game long, displaying his aggressiveness and touch down low. He may not have the most advanced post moves, but he uses his size to his advantage and has shown the ability to make jump hooks and flip shots with ease. He also doesn’t force anything in the post and kicks the ball out quickly if a shot isn’t there.

Many of his baskets came against Hasheem Thabeet, who despite being a draft day joke at this point, still stands at 7-foot-3 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan. Williams used his lower body strength to fend off Thabeet in the post, negating his shot-blocking abilities. When Williams gets it going in the post, teams have been forced to double or foul (7.5 FTA per game in Summer League). Williams has also thrived on the offensive glass.

Of his 11.8 rebounds per game, a whopping five per game came on the offensive end. Williams isn’t a great athlete, but he works hard positioning down low and is a quick leaper to the ball. The Sixers, albeit without Jahlil Okafor, had no chance of boxing out Williams on Friday. He finished the game with 21 (!) rebounds, with 12 coming on the offensive glass. The easy buckets helped Williams score 22 points, giving him a rare Summer League 20-20 performance.

As always with these kind of things, perspective is necessary. Williams is a 22-year old rookie, so he should be faring better in the Summer League than teenagers. He’s also feasted on the glass in a way that won’t happen against NBA rotation players. Nonetheless, Williams at least deserves a chance at earning a roster spot next season.

Some team needs to step up and give this guy a training camp invite, if not a partially guaranteed contract for next season. Williams has dominated at every level he’s played in, even if people continue to think his skill set won’t translate. Williams is too talented to not latch onto an NBA team sometime in the near future.

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