Who is Elliot Williams? A Brief Scouting Report

January 7th, 2015 | by David J Smith
Newest Jazz guard Elliot Williams goes in for the dunk last season for Philadelphia (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Newest Jazz guard Elliot Williams goes in for the dunk last season for Philadelphia (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

After waiving Patrick Christopher, the Jazz have inked swingman Elliot Williams to a 10-day contract. We’re bringing you multiple coverage angles, with a look first from David J Smith followed by Dakota Schmidt’s own scouting report.

David J Smith:

Carrick Felix, Dahntay Jones, Kevin Murphy, Dee Bost, Toure’ Murry, Tre Bussey, Jordan Hamilton, Joe Ingles, Patrick Christopher, Elijah Millsap. These are the names of the different guards and swingmen Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey has brought on board at some point the past six months. That is quite the litany of players Utah is getting a good look at. Needless to say, the robust Jazz scouting corps is earning their paychecks.

Add guard Elliot Williams to the mix, as the Jazz inked him to a 10-day contract today. Williams tweeted the following this morning:

So, who is the latest in the cycle of rotating guards? Williams is a 6’5″, 180-pound combo guard who, at just 25, has some upside. He had an illustrious high school career in Memphis. Williams played the 2008-09 season with Duke1, but then transferred to Memphis where he blossomed once again in his hometown. Williams tallied 17.9 PPG (46% FGs, 37% 3s), 3.8 APG, 4.0 RPG and 1.3 SPG2. He displayed a great athleticism, solid jump shooting and all-around game for the Tigers that made him appealing to many NBA teams as the 2010 Draft approached.

The Portland Trail Blazers ended up tabbing him as the 22nd pick in the first round, but unfortunately, his time in Rip City was marred by endless injuries. He missed his entire rookie campaign due to a knee injury and then, after battling back, was held out of a bulk of the 2011-12 season due to a shoulder dislocation. His third season was non-existent due to an Achilles injury and just like that, his rookie pact with Portland came and went. Over those three seasons, he played a mere 149 minutes in 24 games. It was another disappointing pick for a team in dire need of some bench depth.

To his credit, Williams has not stopped working to fulfill his NBA aspirations, which shows a good amount of fortitude and determination. After spending training camp and the preseason with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he signed on with the Philadelphia 76ers and while much can be said about Philadelphia, he earned consistent minutes last season. In 17.3 MPG, he produced 6.0 PPG, 1.9 RPG and 1.1 APG off the bench. That said, his advanced stats were not that great. He continued working out with the Sixers, but despite a solid preseason showing (11.0 PPG, 2.6 APG, 2.6 RPG), he was ultimately waived just days before this season commenced.

Williams became the 2nd overall pick in the NBA D-League Draft and has been stellar this season: 21.3 PPG (47% FGs, 39% 3s on 4.4 attempts/game), 7.7 APG, 4.7 RPG and 1.3 SPG. The gaudy assist totals are particularly eye-opening, as this stint has displayed more of a facilitating proclivity. Here he is showing his athleticism and versatility:

And a little bit more, here:

Like Ingles and Millsap, Williams fits the bill for the types of players head coach Quin Snyder loves: guys with all-around games who have some potential as passers, shooters and willing defenders. In his offensive schemes, Snyder has shown the desire to have at least three–if not four–ball handlers and facilitators to help keep the offense moving. Williams has good speed and length, giving him some potential on defense. The athleticism is something to also keep an eye on. Given the injury situations, Williams and Millsap will have opportunities to show what they can do.

This continues Lindsey’s trend of bringing in players for try-outs or looks. In his time at the helm, he’s constantly shown a willingness to fill all roster spots, throw out 10-day contracts, etc. in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough. Think Danny Green and the Spurs–that type of guy who can stick and be part of the long-term fix for Utah. It could be argued that Ingles has been such a find–a guy picked up off the waiver wire who has contributed this season.

Whatever the case may be with Williams or Millsap, you have to admire the Jazz front office in doing their homework and performing their due diligence with the end-of-the-bench spots.

Dakota Schmidt:

A mere day after Utah officially announced the signing of Elijah Millsap to a 10-day deal, the Jazz have also acquired Elliot Williams. Even though Williams has a much higher profile than Millsap, his status as an NBA prospect still remains a mystery when you consider that he’s rarely been healthy since being drafted in 2010.

With his health finally stable, Williams is unquestionably having his best season since his time in college, as he’s finally been able to showcase the traits that lead him to being a 1st round pick in 2010. While Williams has definitely developed an all-around arsenal during his time with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the basis behind his game would the combination of athleticism and explosiveness. Utilizing an extremely quick first step, Williams is an incredible on-ball penetrator as he’s able to go from the perimeter to the rim in a matter of split-seconds. Unlike Millsap, Williams has success from inside the restricted area, shooting an extremely respectable 69% from that end of the court.

While athleticism is the focal point of Williams’ game, he’s definitely not uncomfortable with shooting from the perimeter. On 4.5 attempts per game, Williams shot around 39% from beyond the arc, which would actually be a team-high among the active Jazz roster.

Perhaps the most promising aspect of Williams’ work on the offensive end would be his ability as a distributor. While  7.2 assists per game is definitely eye-catching, his 2.24 Ast/TO ratio showcases his ability to prevent turnovers.

Among the names Utah could have picked from the D-League to help mend their broken back-court rotation, Elliot Williams is probably the best option. With his play-making abilities as both a distributor and scorer, Williams should instantly become a solid part of Utah’s 2nd unit.

David J Smith

David J Smith

Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News and has written for the Utah Jazz website and Hoopsworld.com (now Basketball Insiders). He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. He and his incredibly patient wife, Elizabeth, have some amazing children--four girls and two boys. Voted "Most Likely to Replace Jerry Sloan" in high school.
David J Smith

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  1. Paul Johnson says:

    Maybe Elliot Williams can resurrect his career much like Gerald Green of the Phoenix Suns has done. He sure seems to have talent, now that he is finally healthy.

    Some other interesting players on that Santa Cruz team–James Michael McAdoo and Joe Alexander, both of whom didn’t live up to their initial hype, but are also trying to resurrect their careers in the D-League.

    • David J Smith says:

      I always enjoy it when guys take advantage of opportunities that come their way. Hope that both Elliot Williams and Elijah Millsap can do so.

    • Arnell says:

      Would love for the Utah Jazz to pick up James Michael McAdoo – who seems to have that inner Self Motivation to succeed from being left out of his potential. He is a Diamond on the rough. He now makes a case Defensively and has a higher Offensive ceiling than our J Evans, and younger too. Better Asset for the Jazz than that of the Kid that Orlando took away from us from Arizona, who is currently injured too. McAdoo will a physical specimen :)

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