The Hawks have such a talented young trio in Dennis Schroder, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Taurean Prince, and it would be foolish not to stockpile as many players with potential as possible. This is easier to do in free agency and trades due to the restricted free agency young players must go through with the new CBA. So why doesn’t Alan Williams meet this criteria?
Williams was an undrafted player who has exceeded all expectations with the rebuilding Pheonix Suns. He is a lot like Paul Millsap in the sense that both guys are undersized and were slept on during the draft despite great college careers. At just 6’7″, Williams was a two-time leading rebounder in the NCAA for UC Santa Barbara. He also was named the Big West Player of the Year in 2014. Teams did not see enough from Williams in Summer League after being drafted, so he took his talents to the Chinese Basketball Association. In 2016, Williams led the entire league in rebounds at a 15.4 RPG clip. This was enough to get Williams a 10-day deal from the Suns. He has never looked back.
Williams was supposed to be nothing but a bench body for the Suns, but he impressed and stayed on the court more than Tyson Chandler and Alex Len down the stretch. Now, Phoenix has to decide whether to pay Williams or Len.
This could be a rare opportunity to add talent under the age of 25 without having to give up assets. Williams can likely be had at a reasonable rate and given his incredible defense, Coach Bud would love him. He would be a much better option for small ball situations than Mike Muscala. Inch for inch, Williams is one of the best up and coming players in the league. One stat that sticks out is that he posted a 19.59 PER last season. He may not be an NBA starter at present, but having Williams on the roster could allow the team to look to move Dwight Howard if that is the direction the team wants to go in. He may be able to fill in for Paul Millsap as well.
This could be just like the Demarre Carroll signing when Coach Bud came in. Williams is a really talented young player that most do not know about because he was stuck playing in Pheonix. Williams could be even better if he surrounds himself around more talent.
Given the Hawks’ cap situation, they will have limited funds this offseason and will likely only be able to make one move. If they decide to go young, throwing this money at Alan Williams should be a no-brainer.