Shelden Williams (left) will try to keep the block party going in the NBA. (Bleacherreport.com)
Shelden Williams was one of the greatest players in NCAA history. Now the question is whether he can transfer those skills to the NBA.
Taken fifth overall by the Atlanta Hawks, the 22-year-old Williams ironically will be asked to team with his college nemesis — Marvin Williams, Atlanta’s first rounder last year — to lead the Hawks back to respectability.
Williams, a 6’9′, 250-pound power forward, was simply a basketball god at Duke, a program that’s seen quite a few studs in Coach K’s day. After setting career highs with 18.8 PPG, 1.1 AG, 1.7 SPG, 3.8 BPG and 74.4 per cent FT shooting in his senior year, Williams became just the third player in NCAA history to reach 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 350 blocks and 150 steals in his career. The others? The Admiral, David Robinson, and Pervis Ellison.
Williams left Duke as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocks, and with the single-season block record. He was such a legend in college that the Blue Devils will retire his number next year. Of course, entering the NCAA, his legend was already forming, having averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three assists per game as a high school senior.
Reports out of Summer League suggest that Williams held his own. It appears as though he should settle in as a top defender and rebounder, and probably just as he did in college, his offensive game will improve over time.
With his dominant presence in the key, Williams has been compared to another solid defender who developed into a decent scorer as he matured, Antonio Davis. One potential upside comparison we’ve seen for Williams is Emeka Okafor, but we don’t see him being that gifted offensively for some time, if at all. However, Williams has the capability of being a very special shot blocker, a defensive presence other teams will need to be aware of. And that’s something Atlanta very much is in need of.
Forecast by some to last as late as the middle of the first round, Williams might have been a bit of reach for the Hawks at No. 5, but given the strange fashion in which the draft unfolded, who knows if they could have traded down and still got him.
He signed a two-year deal for $6.1 million last month with club options for another two seasons at $7.69 million. Williams is averaged sized for an NBA power forward, but should definitely be a Fantasy asset from a rebounding perspective right away. If you’re seeking more offense, however, we would look elsewhere for the coming season.