Bounce & Brains: The Off-Ball Movement that Helps Make FSU's Patrick Williams So Good
In the first 19 games of freshman Patrick Williams' Florida State career, he notched double-digit points six times. But the frosh phenom has picked up the collegiate game quickly, hitting for double-figures in six of his last seven games. His rapid maturation is a big reason he's now often discussed as a potential first-round pick in this year's NBA Draft.
We're usually discussing football players when we talk about "first-off-the-bus" guys, but at 6'8, 225, Williams fits the bill on the hardwood. A threat from within the paint and beyond the arc, he's an athletic specimen. But he also possesses a high basketball IQ that helps him get into position to succeed.
Let's take a look at a couple examples that demonstrate Williams' propensity for thinking the game that get him into advantageous places.
We'll start with a dunk against Pitt last week. Announcers love to praise Williams' quick-rise ability-- and they're not wrong. But let's examine this play a little closer.
With RayQuan Evans driving, Williams could have just remained in the corner here and hoped for a shot at a three. But when Panther defender Gerald Drumgoole (No. 4) flashes to help on Wyatt Wilkes, Williams sees that Pitt's Terrell Brown (No. 21) is playing a bit high, and he seizes upon an open baseline. It's a great dish and a pretty finish, but this play is made by Williams' knack for getting himself in the right place beforehand.
Now let's check out Williams' exterior movement, courtesy of a big three he buried against North Carolina to give the Seminoles the halftime advantage.
With Trent Forrest controlling the ball at the top of the key, Williams rises and presents himself as a target at the free-throw line extended. But once Forrest begins to drive, Williams has the presence of mind to drift with him, all the while keeping himself in three-point range. That's key, since long two-point shots are about as inefficient as they come. If you're gonna shoot from distance, an extra few inches farther away is well worth the added 50% in prospective reward.
Williams does this perfectly. Had he stayed at the free-throw line extended, he'd have wound up behind Forrest as the latter drove. Not only does this demand a very difficult and awkward pass for Forrest, but it would've essentially taken Williams out of the play, as he'd be out of Forrest's peripheral. His drift keeps him in Forrest's vision, and the rest is history-- and three points.
Everyone loves the big finish, and Williams is certainly adept at doing just that, from all over the court. But examining how he moves without the ball is a real reflection of solid coaching, his intelligence on the court and willingness to learn, and why he's such a key player for the Seminoles.