Scouting Report: Sean Williams

Name: Sean Williams
Position: PF/C
Height: 6’10”
Weight: 235
Birth Date: September 13, 1986 (age 23)
Birth Place: Houston, Texas
Number: 51
College: Boston College
Drafted: 2007, 1st round, 17th overall by New Jersey
Experience: 2 seasons
Contract: $1.629 million in 2009-10

On offense:

Sean Williams is a athletic freak of nature who can run the floor and finish strong in the paint.  That is the extent of his offensive repertoire though.  Williams is a poor ball-handler who has no real post game to speak of, and his small stature doesn’t allow him to bully players (think Amar’e Stoudimire.  Same athletic ability, but Amar’e is stronger and uses that strength better).  Due to these factors, Sean relies heavily on his teammates to get his baskets.  46% of his baskets were assisted on (64% of dunks).  In my opinion, Sean Williams is a tweener in the worst possible definition.  He doesn’t have the outside shot to play the 4, but he is undersized for the 5.  As John Hollinger puts it:

He’s also not much of a shooter — he only made five long 2s all season — which is a problem when he’s playing power forward and may ultimately force him to play center despite being undersized.

Due to a plethora of legal issues, Sean Williams only played in 33 games last season for a total of 366 minutes.  Even with the small sample size, by look at some per minute stats, it was apparent that Williams was playing worse last year over his rookie season, albeit just by little though.  Williams’ True Shooting Percentage was 46.5 in 08-09 (56.3 in 07-08), and both his points per 40 minutes (8.7 vs. 12.8) and his rebounds per 40 minutes (8.6 vs. 10.1) were down a hair.

To drive home the point that Sean Williams can only really finish around the basket, lets take a look at his shooting chart.  I am comfortable showing 07-08’s chart, because when you look at last year’s it shows the same thing;


Sean Williams made more shots close to the basket then the total number of outside shots he attempted.  That is not necessarily a bad thing though.  At least he knows who he is.  What do I mean by that?  Well, he knows his limitations, and he stays away from them.  For a comparision, let us look at Tyrus Thomas’ shot chart, who in my opinion, doesn’t know his limitations:


Look at all that blue huh?  Tyrus Thomas and Sean Williams are the same type of players, but Tyrus Thomas insists on becoming a jump-shooter, and it isn’t working out too well, as you can see.

On defense:

Sean Williams is a spectacular shot blocker and a solid defensive rebounder, who knows how to use his athletic ability.  His blocks per 40 was the only statistical category that stayed the same from 07-08 to 08-09 (2.9 vs. 3.0).  His athletic ability has never been the problem, it has been the mental aspect of the game.  In the time he has seen in the two years he has been a pro, Williams hasn’t shown the ability to grasp defensive schemes or how to properly play weakside defense.

His mental immaturity also shows when you look at the number of fouls he commits.  Last year he averaged 2.2 fouls per game despite only playing 11.2 minutes per game.  These fouls usually come from when he tries to block shots he has no business going after.  If he were to learn it was ok to keep your hands up on some occasions rather than blocking everything, that number would go down, and he would be a better defender for it.


As mentioned previously, Sean Williams has probably had the most infamous short history of the D-League.  It is rare to see first rounders going down to the D-League so all eyes were on Williams, and while he played well (9.8 PPG 3.9 BPG 7.5 RPG in 8 games) he continued to cause problems.  The breaking point was at the D-League Showcase (where all of the league’s teams play each other in a “carnival” format – scouts and personnel from every pro team show up to this) in January.  During the showcase, Williams got two technical fouls and an ejection in one game and fouled out of another after only 28 minutes.  Word has it that Williams was facing suspension by the 14ers, and they basically forced the Nets to take Williams back.  If the 14ers didn’t fold, this year would be interesting in terms of D-League affiliate relations.


Sean Williams maturity has always been an issue, and it will be something that we still closely look at going into this year.  Legal issues aside, Williams’ hasn’t really shown an ability to grasp the mental side of the game.  Something we can’t forget that he did not start playing basketball until the age of 15.  By that age, concepts like help defense aren’t really taught as much as they are re-enforced.  Even at Boston College, Williams didn’t really get the full learning experience in respect to basketball, this is due to the fact that he was kicked off his team.  I guess what I am saying here is that we should be patient with Sean (Only in a basketball sense, of course.  His off-court troubles should not be condoned).  I know he was a 1st round pick, and his flashes of greatness have Nets’ fans yearning for him to develop, but let’s not give up on him just yet.  I think he will start to show some basketball IQ now that he is entering his third year.

If there is anyone who can help Sean Williams mature off the court, it is Tony Battie.  Dwight Howard calls him a big-brother, and he was the one who taught Howard the ins and the outs of becoming a pro.  This is also his contract year.  Now say what you will, but money is a factor to some guys, and the threat of not getting another pay-check after this season could be just enough to make things click with Sean Williams.  If the combination of Tony Battie and playing in a contract year keep Sean on the straight and narrow, nothing will, and he will go down as one of the worst picks in Nets’ history.


An 08-09 mix of Sean Williams.  I mean seriously, how can a guy who played so little minutes be able to get all of these highlights?  Such a freak of nature (lyrics very much NSFW):

More On Williams:

  3. Draft Express
  4. Basketball-Reference
  6. NetsAreScorching