2022 NBA Draft: Virginia native Mark Williams is looking like a lottery pick

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Duke's Mark Williams is looking like a lottery pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Wizards have the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2022 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Profile: Mark Williams

Team: Duke

Position: C

Age: 20

Height: 7-2

Weight: 243

Wingspan: 7-6

2021/22 stats: 39 G, 11.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.5 spg, 2.8 bpg, 72.1 FG% (4.9/6.8), 0.0 3PT% (0.0/0.0), 72.7 FT% (1.4/2.0)

Player comparison: Robert Williams III, Mitchell Robinson

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 15th, Sports Illustrated 11th, Ringer 13th, Athletic 13th, ESPN 13th, NBADraft.net 12th, Bleacher Report 13th

5 things to know:

- Williams might be the best rim protector in this draft. For one, he's a massive human being, standing 7'2 in shoes with a 7'6 wingspan. Those measurables coupled with good feet and strong fundamentals make him a major deterrent at the rim. Similar to Robert Williams III in Boston, whatever team drafts Williams will be able to hide him on non-shooters and allow him to roam near the paint to shut down the opponent's interior scoring.

- On offense, Williams has the size and athleticism to be a dangerous lob threat in the pick and roll. He has good hands, positions himself well to open up dump-off opportunities for his playmaking teammates and can rise and finish over just about anybody. Shooting isn't the only way to create spacing in the NBA. Sometimes an athletic 7-footer rolling down the lane can make the defense collapse and open up space elsewhere.

- There could be some added upside on offense to be had with Williams. He didn't take a ton of jump shots in two seasons at Duke, but his mechanics are clean and his improvement from the free-throw line as a sophomore (72.7% in 2022 vs. 53.7% in 2020) bodes well for his jumper translating to the next level. Williams may never be a volume shooter, but if he can keep defenses honest while putting pressure on the rim as a roller, he could turn into one of the better two-way bigs in the league.

- Williams will not be the first pro basketball player in his family. His sister, Elizabeth was taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft and became an All-Star with the Atlanta Dream in 2017. She now plays for the Mystics, signing with Washington after a six-year run with the Dream.

- A Virginia native, Williams spent the first three years of his high school career playing for Norfolk Academy, where he helped lead them to the VISAA state tournament as a junior. Before his senior season, he transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL to prepare for the next level and ultimately committed to Duke as a consensus top-35 recruit in the country.

Fit with Wizards:

Judging off where he's going in mock drafts, Williams should probably be in play for the Wizards at No. 10. Given Daniel Gafford's presence on the roster and the fact he's signed through 2026, it's hard to see envision Williams putting on a Wizards cap at the draft.

The Wizards likely need perimeter juice, whether it's more playmaking, shooting or scoring, more than they need another rim protector. However, if Washington identifies Williams as the best player available when they're on the clock, it wouldn't be the worst draft pick of all time.

Williams is young, athletic, and fundamentally sound and there's really no reason why any of his skills shouldn't translate to the NBA right away. If properly utilized, he could anchor an elite defense, and until the Wizards build an elite defense they can't exactly be turning down talented players who could help them get there.

2022 NBA Draft profiles:

Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Jaden Ivey, Purdue

Paolo Banchero, Duke

Keegan Murray, Iowa

Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky

Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

Jalen Duren, Memphis

Dyson Daniels, G-League Ignite

Ousmane Dieng, International

Tari Eason, LSU

Ochai Agbaji, Kansas

Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee

Malaki Branham, Ohio State

EJ Liddell, Ohio State

Darryl Morsell, Marquette