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RR Ralphie Report: NBA Draft Profile: Colorado Buffaloes wing Cody Williams


News Junkie
NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Colorado at Marquette

Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Detailed scouting report of the Colorado Buffaloes freshman

The NBA Draft is tonight! I thought it was Thursday but it’s tonight! Anyways, here’s an article about Cody Williams as a draft prospect and future pro!


Cody Williams arrived to Boulder as the highest ranked recruit in program history. Initially a high four-star, the 6’8 point forward started to put it all together late in his junior year, then dominated on the EYBL circuit. The late bloomer from Gilbert, Arizona skyrocketed to #4 in his recruiting class, was named a McDonald’s All-American and scouted as a possible #1 overall draft pick.

It also helped Cody’s reputation that his brother Jalen looked like a future star in his first year on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both players hit late growth spurts, are known to have great work ethics, and each showed tremendous year-to-year improvement. They’re quite different players — as I will explain below — but it does make sense that NBA teams see more untapped potential in Cody because of what his brother has done in the league.

Williams chose Colorado partly because they were the first high major to recruit him, but mostly he thought it would be best for his NBA career to work with Tad Boyle and strength coach Steve Englehart. The plan was for him to stay a couple years, play a supporting role as a freshman, then a bigger role the next year, all while bulking up and preparing for the NBA. Then his recruiting profile blew up and he became a near-lock to be selected in the lottery in the weakest draft class since 2013.

This isn’t to say Williams didn’t have a draft-worthy freshman year. He was productive when healthy, even if he was fourth on the team in touches after KJ Simpson, Tristan da Silva and Eddie Lampkin. He played smart, winning basketball, taking (and making) open shots, attacking in transition, and playing sound team defense. There were growing pains, as well as physical pains, but he showed immense potential before an ankle injury sapped him of his explosiveness later in the season.


For a player with supposed ‘untapped potential,’ Williams has the rare combination of both physical tools and a good feel for the game. He’s 6’7 with a 7’1 wingspan and uses every inch of that when he drives to the basket with long strides and extended finishes. His length and smarts also help on the defensive end, where he’s able to bother players and contest shots just by virtue of being in the right position.

Williams is also quick to read the floor on both ends of the court. This can be can seen most clearly in his ability in transition, as he has a good sense for when to push the pace, is able to navigate traffic at full speed, and is usually smart about creating baskets for his teammates. The same principle applies in half court settings, where he’s a promising slasher who can finish ambidextrously and make simple reads off the dribble.

Williams’ single best skill is probably his touch around the basket. He prefers to extend his arm for a finger role, but he also has some Eurosteps, floaters and even two-handed dunks in his bag. That touch also shows up in his open jump shots. It’s encouraging that he made over 40% of his threes, even if his jumper is still a work in progress. NBA coaches can work on his mechanics, but they can’t teach that soft touch.


The main difference between Cody and Jalen is that the elder brother is stronger than Cody will ever be. Jalen is shorter and thicker (with a longer wingspan) and much of that strength in his lower half where he’s better equipped to take bumps without losing his balance.

Williams struggles absorbing contact and often loses his momentum when driving. He has a hard time getting downhill or creating space if he’s not able to step around or extend past his defender. This also shows up on defense, as stronger ball-handlers are able to power through his chest. This will improve over the years, but there is a question of how much muscle he can add to his skinny frame.

There are also real concerns about his jump shot. He has good shooting numbers, but he’s not very confident in his shot and only really takes them if they’re wide open. He also has a low set point and shoots the ball far in front of his body, making it easier for defenders to contest. The worst thing is that he’s not comfortable taking shots off the dribble and lacks an in-between game if the paint is crowded.

That all said, his shot looks significantly better than it did a year ago at the U19 World Cup. Defenders ignored him on the perimeter and he didn’t have the confidence (or form) to take the shot. He’s since cleaned up his shooting form and is now at the stage where he comfortably can take and make open looks. Maybe the pull-up jumper never comes, but he can shoot enough to stay on the floor and shine in other ways.

NBA Draft Projection​

Cody Williams is a lottery lock due to his length, feel for the game and room for growth. If he gets stronger and more consistent as a shooter, he should have a long NBA career as a versatile two-way wing. It’s unlikely that he will develop the self creation ability to be anything more than a third option. However, the things he does well — moving without the ball, attacking open space and making the right play — should make for an excellent fourth starter on a winning team.

Best Team Fits​

Williams’ most likely destination is the Portland Trail Blazers, who have the 7th and 14th picks in the draft. That seems like a good fit for player and team. They have their primary ball handler in Scoot Henderson, a go-to scorer in Shaedon Sharpe and a talented center in Deandre Ayton. Obviously those guys have to improve over the years, but that’s the supposed core for this young team.

What Portland needs long-term — assuming Jerami Grant is moved at some point — is a big, versatile wing like Williams who can play a complimentary role and take on different tasks depending on the matchup. The added benefit to Portland is that the organization will be patient with his development and the fans will place their expectations (and frustrations) on Henderson and Sharpe.

If not Portland, the Memphis Grizzlies (#9) or Utah Jazz (#10) are the best realistic places for him to grow long term. Both teams are looking for that sort of big wing and Cody wouldn’t be asked to do too much outside of his strengths. Of course, that didn’t work out for Memphis with Ziaire Williams, a similar prospect, but it would be better than Cody ending up in Detroit (#5), Charlotte (#6) or Chicago (#11), all dead ends for player development.

Oklahoma City also makes some sense at #12 but (a) it’s unlikely Williams lasts that long, (b) OKC is shopping the pick and (c) if they do draft someone, they’re more likely to target a more polished player who can readily contribute while on their cheap rookie contract.

by Sam Metivier
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