clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ranking the Warriors' assets: Elliot Williams will try to make his mark in Golden State training camp

New, comments

Elliot Williams looks to rise up and make his mark on the league.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The GSoM staff is doing this thing where we rank the players, but we're doing it "Survivor" style, eliminating one player per poll, until we've decided who is the most valuable to the Warriors in 2017 and beyond. Once a player is eliminated, they shouldn't be counted as a reason to choose the next player. For example, whether or not Anderson Varejao's presence lessens the value of JaVale McGee in real life shouldn't be taken into account once Varejao has been voted out in this little game.

We're referring to the players as "assets." As such, voters are reminded to consider age, salary, injuries, production, potential and overall value to the team (as either a player or trade piece) when making their selections.

It's been a busy offseason, but not much about basketball since Kevin Durant's decision to join the Golden State Warriors. A lot has been written recently about Colin Kaepernick, social injustice and the win-win future we all face with our presidential nominees in this fall's election. However, Politics Jonez couldn't be here, so I, Basketball Jonez, will have to fill in.

We're here for basketball anyway, right?

I know at least one guy who is, anyways. His name is Elliot Williams.

I know what 28.4 points with a 58.9 true shooting percentage (TS%), 6.8 rebounds and 6 assists per game looks like on a basketball court. That's Harden. That's Westbrook. That's dominance. Now, what if Harden and Westbrook were not only dominant players, but champions, and even the Finals MVP?

That's who Elliot Williams is ... in Santa Cruz.

Yes, that's in the D-League, but isn't this precisely the benefit of owning a D-League team? The ability to develop talent within your own system is an advantage that should be acknowledged by fans the way it is by front offices. His story is familiar: a promising young career is derailed by injuries before the player bounces around from team to team, trying to both rehab and find a lasting home until the D-League becomes the best option. Shaun Livingston, Danny Green. Hassan Whiteside, Jeremy Lin and Amir Johnson all played in the D-League. As a matter of fact, nearly 40 percent of NBA players have D-League experience now.

That means that D-League call-ups are nearly as successful as Stephen Curry 3s. Let that sink in for just a second before you write off Williams' minor league dominance.

Cynics will point to the previous NBA opportunities that Elliot Williams has received, yet a closer look at his fit on those teams is very revealing. Williams has improved his 3-point efficiency to 36 percent, but he's never been a natural shooter. Being paired with slashers like Tony Wroten, Michael Carter-Williams and Evan Turner is going to give you some serious spacing issues, like he did in Philadelphia. Same story in Utah, Memphis, and New Orleans: nobody on those rosters could shoot, and none of those franchises invested in developing him over their own lottery picks.

The Warriors don't have any lottery picks, but they do have the opportunity to develop players. And they have one or two guys that can space the floor, but might have room on the roster for an athletic finisher with a penchant for drawing contact. I don't expect Williams' career to match Harden's or Westbrook's, but the Warriors are going to want to show different looks off the bench. I think Williams can match Ian Clark's production, and his devastating first step and elite vertical jump providing a different type of offense than Warriors fans have grown accustomed to in the post-Monta Ellis landscape.

In addition to his off-the-charts athleticism and humble, hardworking demeanor, Williams has multiple D-League All-Star appearances, dominant personal stats, team success and a D-League championship. The southpaw has corrected much of his former shooting form, shortened his release time, and learned to finish with either hand. Williams is exactly the sort of player you hope to find in your farm system.

The most recent polls show that most of us (52 percent) think he's probably just another body for camp, or at best, the 15th man. Of course, one week earlier, the same poll eliminated a player that contributed key minutes in the NBA Finals at a position of major need for the team, so take our reactionary views with as many grains of salt as necessary.

I get it, though. I voted the same way as the crowd so far. I voted to dump Floppy McFlopperson because I'm mad at his minutes in last season's Finals (and his style of play, which I hate), and I voted for Elliot Williams because I didn't really know much about him. I know that those are bad reasons to vote the way I did, but that's the truth. I should have based my vote on what the player brings to the team. I should have looked at the evidence instead of just accepting the perception, because when I did, I changed my mind.

I've been doing this series for three seasons now, and I've never seen a guy this low on our assets ranking have so many minor league highlight videos and accolades. Elliot Williams is an NBA player waiting to happen. The real question is, which uniform will he wear next season?

On to the next selection!

It's election season and time for your voice to be heard! If you had to lose one of the remaining players forever, which one would it be? Vote in the poll and tell us why in the comments.