Patrick Williams’ Potential is Through the Roof

Looking to join Orlando Magic forward Johnathan Isaac and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley as the only “one-and-done” prospects in Florida State program history, Patrick Williams has the kind of raw athleticism and youth that could potentially make him one of the greatest Seminoles to ever reach the NBA.

Coming out of West Charlotte High School, the 6-foot- 8 North Carolina native was ranked 28th overall and 6th at his position in the ESPN 100 class of 2019.

Williams averaged 22.1 points, 3.1 assists, nine rebounds, nearly two steals and almost three blocks per game in his senior season.

Rather than committing to local programs that sent him offers (like NC State, Wake Forest or Clemson), Williams instead chose Florida State, which was coming off a 29-8 record and fell just short of an ACC championship at the hands of  Zion Williamson and the Duke Blue Devils. 

Playing alongside promising pieces like Devin Vassell as part of an upperclassmen-led program, Williams looked to be the missing link to put the Seminoles over the hump. And he was right on track to doing so.

Prior to COVID-19 canceling the remainder of the NCAA conference tournaments and March Madness, Williams helped lead Florida State to a 26-5 record, putting them atop the ACC. Averaging 9.2 points, four rebounds, and one assist per game on 45.9% shooting, Williams may not have been coming up big on the stat sheet as anticipated, but the Seminoles’ success nonetheless came in correlation with Williams’ impact on both sides of the floor.

Playing mainly as an athletic slasher and driver, Williams performs best when driving baseline–to the basket and finishing strong at the rack. Williams’ physicality stands out due to his 225-pound frame and 6-foot-11 wingspan. His willingness to step up defensively as a shot-blocker while also being active in the passing lanes shows that his raw measurables alone give him the ability to potentially be an elite all-around defender at the next level.

Williams’ best game of the season may have been against Syracuse back in January. On the back of a season-high 17 points and seven rebounds, Florida State went on to pick up a close 80-77 conference win.

The biggest worry is that although Williams remains committed on the defensive end, he tends to come up small against quality opponents. In 31 games played, he recorded 10 or fewer points in 17 of them, including only two points against Louisville and seven points in a 70-65 loss to a Duke team that was relatively underwhelming all season.

Another hole is his lack of three-point shooting. Hitting only 32 percent of his looks from behind the arc, Williams has not shown that he can be a reliable shooter. However, his 83.8 percent shooting from the free-throw line suggests that he could improve and become more consistent. 

Combined with the physical measurables and athleticism that allows him to guard just about every position, adding a strong midrange package to his arsenal and a three-point shot would make him a serious threat as a two-way wing at the next level. 

At only 18 years old, the boom-bust potential with a prospect like Williams is incredibly significant. 

On one end, his floor could be a solid rotational forward comparable to someone like Denver’s Jerami Grant, providing about eight to ten points, and a handful of rebounds as a solid big man to occupy the paint. 

But on the other end, he could become a more athletic version of how Paul Millsap was back on the Atlanta Hawks: a perennial all-star averaging 17 points and eight boards per game, with tenacity on the defensive end. Williams will more than likely grow into a solid starter as a defensive stopper in the NBA, but with time to build his arsenal, he could develop into one of the league’s top two-way players, taking a route similar as Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler.

Tankathon projects Williams to go 28th to the Toronto Raptors, who are already reaping the success of developing young talents in Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Terence Davis.

For a team that could be facing significant roster turnover this offseason with veterans like Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet all entering free agency, Williams could be another potential building block to help transition the Raptors into a younger, more athletic team.

Feb 24, 2020; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles forward Patrick Williams (4) dunks the ball after a breakaway steal during the second half of the game against the Louisville Cardinals at Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Fox Sports’ most recent mock draft projects Williams as a late-lottery pick going 14th to the Portland Trailblazers. That’s a team desperate for some productivity at the forward position, most recently drafting Nassir Little out of North Carolina last year.

He may not be the kind of high-volume scorer that they would like to pair with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but he is a big, physical body who can pound opposing defenses inside. He also provides them with another upside pick to go alongside guys like Anfernee Simons, Gary Trent Jr. and Little, continuing to build an athletic, youthful bench. 

The mock drafts say it all: Williams is viewed as the kind of prospect who could be anywhere between a rotational player or big-time contributor on a championship team.

He may be raw in terms of talent, but Williams has the kind of intangibles that make him one of the biggest wild cards in this year’s draft.