WEIGHT: 185 lbs
HIGH SCHOOL: Sierra Canyon (CA)
AAU: Oakland Soldiers (EYBL)
Versatile Three-Position Wing Defender with Offball Roaming Freedom
Primary Initiator with Three-Level Scoring
Two-Way-Wing with Two-Level Scoring
ATHLETICISM / INTANGIBLES
- Physically pretty “underdeveloped” in many areas. His level of strength is pretty terrifying, but NBA evaluators seem to throw every concern in that regard over board because of the high level of NBA strength and conditioning programs (according to Sam Vecenie). His overall physical limitations are a big part of why he can’t do certain things on the field. Many areas should sort themselves out if he can develop properly in the physical department.
- His burst is underwhelming to an extent that he currently can’t beat his man at all.
- Even when loading up, he really isn’t that explosive vertically, even less in traffic. His length and timing help him to overcome this issue quite a bit.
- Had to wear a knee brace for the first six games of the season due to a biking accident on campus. Important sidenote because he had even more trouble with his drive and explosiveness during that time.
- Currently, he falls a lot. The main issue here is of course his lack of strength, but his balance and general flexibility should be emphasized developing further going forward.
- Shows more than flashes of quick processing on defense and offense.
- Seems to have a pretty good sense of spatial awareness which shows on several occasions and especially off the ball.
- Pretty elite shot maker from a young age on. Can create off the dribble or take really deep shots in general.
- Long range on catch and shoot shots. Great energy transfer from bottom to top despite his overall physical profile. Hop shooter on catch and shot attempts.
- Shot selection was kinda iffy at times. That being said, in my opinion Stanford relied on Ziaire’s shot creation and playmaking too much. He was quite stretched with his 26 % usage rate in college. Williams isn’t capable (yet) to shoulder such a high usage which shows in his efficiency in all areas too.
- His overall percentage at Stanford is to take with a grain of salt because he created around 40% of his threes for himself and took a fair amount of difficult attempts. His overall conversion rate of 29.1 % of his threes in Stanford mixed with his FT% of 79.6 % and pretty good touch indicators are solid enough to buy his shot going forward. On a larger sample between 14 highschool games, 13 AAU games and his college sample of 20 games, his numbers are the following: 47 games, 589 FGA (40.4 %), 224 3FGA (31.3 %), 172 FTA(82.6 %). Those are solid numbers on pretty difficult attempts which leads me to believe in him being able to scale down his role coming into the league and be more efficient overall.
- Loves using dribble hand-offs going left. He is able to pull up over most defenders this way and his body is already aligned.
- Handle is developing but concerning, even without his big question marks physically. Because of this, he has to go pretty wide on drives, in order to make up for his inability to absorb contact on drives and lack of burst overall.
- Has currently big problems finishing at the rim when getting there. His touch is pretty good but the lack of strength and vertical diminishes his impact here.
- He seems to have a good vision and is generally willing to pass but is mostly a threat from a standstill here. His accuracy while dribbling the ball leaves a bit to be desired. The velocity of his passes while dribbling is also a mixed bag at the moment. When he is handling the ball in pick and roll situations, he has a far better feel for inside passes rather than skip passes to the corners which he tends to overlook a bit.
- Long enough, good timing as a baseline lob threat (with space). Can elevate out of the dunker spot with one dribble to dunk.
- I find his general positioning to be a bit weird sometimes. His overall feel of distance to travel back on help possessions is kind of iffy at times. He tends to position himself to far off shooters and can’t recover in time too often. This could even be by design, but it’s not a red flag at all and in general something that can be polished very quickly.
- His general closeout technique is not ideal as he tends to take longer steps. Out of balance, unable to shift weight too often. Had a decent amount of blocked jump shots on the perimeter attributed to timing and his decent length when running hard closeouts.
- In general, I really like his activity level on defense and his level of awareness and understanding when to rotate. Until his body develops further, his impact will be diminished significantly, but it’s overall a very good baseline to count on.
- Gets screened to death when hit because of his shortcomings in physical areas. Can make himself small and get around screens quickly, but not through them at the moment.
- When fully developed physically, he could really defend a wide range of player types because of his length, agility and already good defensive foundation. However, until he develops further, he has to guard up on the next level in most situations which could lead to some exposure against shifty and quick NBA guards. It will take some time until he really is able to guard like-sized players on a night to night basis.
Ziaire is a fascinating prospect to evaluate. He is a pretty big wing with a clear elite level talent which is tough shot making. At this point, his whole game relies on making hard shots, which leads to inconsistent performances. Because of his physical limitations he really can’t get to the rim at all or create easy baskets aside from catch and shoot opportunities. Defensively he is a high-feel off-ball defender who can create events in passing lanes.
The low-hanging fruit here is that Ziaire can be a pretty rare prospect when developed physically. Bigger wing sized players with this level of on-ball shot creation and positive defensive impact are rare and worth a shot for every NBA team. Most of his question marks will disappear or become less of an issue when/if he becomes stronger – which is not an impossible task for NBA staff. Remaining questions would be about his burst, handle and his level of passing/creation for others. Without those components it’s less likely that Ziaire will become a huge on-ball creator in the future and reach the highest echelon of NBA wings. It’s not hard to imagine Ziaire in a secondary creator role where he can attack closeouts or next to another creator who takes creation off of him. He is a very adept shooter and pretty interesting defensive prospect already.
The simple solution to many of Ziaire’s problems is physical development which seems to be pretty easy, at least to an extent, for any NBA staff. The degree of physical development will likely determine his ceiling in the NBA. The more physically developed he becomes, the more on-ball usage he can take and extend his role. Therefore, Ziaire has a wide range of outcomes. He surely will improve physically to an extent where he doesn’t fall so often and handle contact better to take on some simple second side creation responsibilities where he can attack a bent defense and make good decisions with the ball in these situations. Off the ball, he should be able to make smart cuts, swing the ball or just simply spot up or even develop into a more than solid movement shooter. I like his shot a lot, and I’m pretty optimistic about it translating and developing further in consistency.
AS OF: 04/15/2021