During Antonio Williams’ 4-year tenure in Phoenix, the Suns selected Devin Booker, Dragan Bender, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges. But none of those guys is the best talent the former NBA scout ever evaluated.
That title belongs to a guy Williams saw the first time while working for the NBA scouting department, evaluating talent from the northeast region.
I went to an event in New York, and I saw a player, and the player was 3-for-16 in the game, and the only thing I wrote in my notes was, ‘I just watched the best player in the country.‘ It was Kevin Durant when he was at Texas.Antonio Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
Why was Williams blown away by a guy having an off night shooting the ball? Here’s the analogy Williams used to explain it, based on his experience as a player.
There are nights when an offensive player is getting every single look that he wants and getting them easily — he’s just not making the shots. Looking at the box score at the end of the game, it may seem a defender locked him up. And that’s misleading. Especially when looking at the one-game pattern — shooting efficiency shouldn’t be the go-to criterion. That’s how Williams evaluated Durant.
When I watched Kevin Durant – again, this is using my own experience and through my own lens – when I was watching that particular game, I went back to those experiences. I’m watching him, and I’m like, ‘Nobody can bother his shot because he’s seven feet tall, he’s creating space, he’s doing it efficiently, he’s getting everywhere he wants to get, he’s just not making the shots today.’Antonio Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
Instead of judging him by FG% column, Williams looked at KD’s skill level and unmatched physical tools, projecting how his game would potentially transition to the next level. And based solely on that game, the former NBA scout saw enough.
The ease, the economy of movement, how easily he was doing it, it was like ‘this guy is the best player in the country.’Antonio Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
Durant was eventually drafted 2nd overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the ’07 NBA Draft after Portland took Greg Oden No.1. Had Antonio Williams been in the Blazers scouting department, it’s safe to assume they would’ve taken the seven-foot forward from Texas instead.