“Situational Analysis” is a series of articles that seeks to examine the circumstances that most often influence an NBA prospect’s success. Each player will be scored on a scale from 1-10 in four different categories: NBA-specific skill(s), fatal flaw(s), collegiate/overseas/pre-NBA environment, and ideal NBA ecosystem.

Cody Williams is a 19-year-old forward from Gilbert, Arizona, who averaged 11.9 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists for the Colorado Buffaloes. He is expected to be selected in the lottery in this year’s draft. NBADraft.net currently has him projected at No. 4.

NBA-Specific Skills

Cody Williams has one of the cleanest, easiest-to-read job applications of any prospect in this year’s draft.

NBA Team: “So, what is it you do, Mr. Williams?”

Williams: “I’m a prototypical 3-and-D wing.”

NBA Team: “Say no more. Would you like an 8-figure NBA rookie contract?”

Multi-billion-dollar corporations are risk-averse by their nature. An NBA franchise, just like any other enormous capitalist entity, prefers strategies and prospects that are consistent, repeatable, and easy to explain. It’s next to impossible to win at any serious level without at least one (preferably several) long, skilled, versatile wing who can knock down open shots, switch across multiple defensive positions, and at least put a hand in the face of the other team’s best perimeter scorer.

Williams is a slashing, heady forward with strong spot-up shooting skills and an unselfish demeanor. He hit nearly 42% of his 3-point attempts (on low volume, but encouraging) as a freshman and showed a willingness to make the extra pass, even if that pass didn’t lead directly to a basket.

He’s a lanky, sneaky player who can wiggle into the teeth of defenses and create openings where none seem to exist. He can work on either end of a pick-and-roll attack, but his best work comes in the open floor, either filling the lane or leading the break after a rebound.

On the other end, he has all the tools/measurables of a plus defender and should hold up against most 2s, 3s, and 4s once his body fills out and he learns the nuances of NBA defense.

Williams does a little bit of everything, and he does it all well. He’s one of the safest prospects in this year’s draft lottery, with upside left to fulfill.

On a scale from 1-10, Williams’ versatility rates at an 8.5.

Fatal Flaws

While Williams is solid at everything, he has yet to develop that single elite skill that might set him apart from other 3-and-D job applicants.

On paper, his potential playmaking skills could be that separator – he was a point guard through much of high school – but that skillset is purely theoretical at this point, as Williams posted a negative assist/turnover ratio in his freshman season. Perhaps those skills will improve with increased ball-distribution opportunities, but at this point, it’s still a work in progress.

He is also awfully lean compared to the other, stouter players at his position. He will fill out with an NBA weights/diet routine and added maturity, but he will never be one of the league’s strongest wings. This hasn’t been a significant hindrance for, say, Jaden McDaniels, but ideally, Williams could add another 10-15 pounds of muscle without sacrificing any quickness or agility.

Even though his 3-point percentage is exactly what you’re hoping to see from a wing, his mediocre free-throw percentage (71%) – often a better indicator of pure shooting ability – is a cause for concern. And the -and-D portion of his resume would be better served with stronger counting stats in the steals/blocks categories.

Make no mistake: Williams is good, with the potential to be great. But there are only 450 job openings, and several applicants have similar LinkedIn profiles.

On a scale from 1 (not a concern) to 10 (serious hindrance), Williams’ lack of a singular elite skill rates at an 8.

Pre-NBA Setting

Williams burst onto the scene as a standout at Perry High School in Gilbert, immediately leaping to the top of all Arizona scouting reports with his strong all-around game. He won back-to-back titles in Perry and was a triple-double threat in every game. He made the 2023 McDonald’s All-American team and took part in the Nike Hoops Summit.

He earned 5-star status from every major recruiting service and turned down scholarship offers from much more prestigious programs to become the highest-ranked prospect in Colorado’s history. That versatility came through in a big way for most of the Buffaloes’ season before several injury concerns (orbital bone fracture, sprained wrist, sprained ankle) limited his effectiveness down the stretch.

There is hope that Williams will put these nagging injuries behind him and will have the opportunity to show more of that 5-star talent in the NBA. If he is anywhere near as good as his brother, Jalen, the team that gets Cody will be getting a star.

On a scale from 1-10, Williams’ pre-NBA career is an 8 – would’ve been higher without the injuries.

Ideal NBA Ecosystem

Jalen went No. 12 overall in 2022 out of Santa Clara, which is about where Cody would go in a typical draft. But every prospect gets a +7 rounding curve this year, which brings Cody into the San Antonio/Detroit range.

The Spurs make a ton of sense for Williams, as they desperately need versatile ball-movers to put around Victor Wembanyama. The Spurs should do everything in their power to surround Victor with elite shoot/pass/dribble players with basketball IQ to spare.

Detroit needs what Williams offers, as well, but it’s difficult to get a handle on what this franchise hopes to do to help Cade Cunningham. No matter what the strategy is, however, Williams fits it.

While it seems like a reach to think about Williams going No. 1 overall, it’s hard to think of anyone in this draft class the Atlanta Hawks need more. The De’Andre Hunter experiment appears to be running out of gas, and Williams’ upside at the position makes a ton of sense for what the Hawks are trying to build. Perhaps if any of the smoke around a possible Atlanta/San Antonio swap leads to fire, Williams could end up in Atlanta with either No. 4 or No. 8

On a scale from 1-10, Williams’ situational independence is a 9. Every NBA team has a spot for a solid 3-and-D wing with his length, versatility, and defensive profile.


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