The draft process is a whirlwind for NBA hopefuls. They run from one NBA team practice facility to the next, running themselves ragged trying to make one last positive impression.
It’s a brutal process, but one that becomes slightly easier if you have a mentor in the league who has already gone through the experience and can act as a sounding board.
For Stanford’s Ziaire Williams, it appears that Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton is that mentor.
“It’s awesome, I talk to Tyrese all the time,” Williams said during Thursday’s prospect media sessions. “He always tells me how good I’m going to do when I go in. He tells me all the ins and outs to look out for. The problems he ran into as a rookie.”
Williams and Haliburton helped Team USA win the gold medal at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup. That team also featured most of the star-studded 2021 NBA Draft class, including Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs and Scottie Barnes.
To this day, Haliburton and Williams remain close, including some conversations as this year’s draft process has heated up.
Williams was excited to see what his friend accomplished during his rookie season in Sacramento. After falling to the No. 12 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Haliburton finished third in Rookie of the Year voting and also made the NBA’s All-Rookie first team.
“Tyrese is a hell of a player,” Williams added. “Honestly, so many teams passed up on him and they definitely regret it. He’s proven...you see how skinny Tyrese is and a lot of people say his shot mechanics are off, but he makes it work for him.”
There was a time when Williams was considered a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft. His stock took a bit of a hit after a mediocre freshman season at Stanford, but there is a chance that he’ll make his way back up draft boards after some impressive measurements at the NBA Draft Combine this week.
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The 19-year-old wing measured in at 6-foot-9.75 in shoes after being listed at 6-foot-8 during his lone season at the NCAA level. Williams also posted an impressive 39.5 inch max vertical, finished third in the lane agility drill and seventh in the shuttle run.
Like Haliburton, Williams is very skinny. He weighed in at just 188.4 pounds at the combine and measured in with just 4.4 percent body fat.
Whether Williams has done enough to be considered by the Kings with the No. 9 overall pick is a huge question. Kings GM Monte McNair loves length and athleticism, which is exactly what Williams brings to the table. He also can play multiple positions and has plenty of room for improvement.
The Kings are in a strong position in the draft. They will have plenty of options to choose from if they decide to stay where they are. They could also move down a few spots and likely still land Williams if he is a player they fall in love with during the draft process.
Either way, Williams has a friend in the draft process in Haliburton and the Kings have one more avenue to collect intel on a very intriguing prospect.