Stanford's Ziaire Williams heading to Grizzlies at No. 10

·3 min read

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies picked up Stanford forward Ziaire Williams in the first round of the NBA draft Thursday night through a draft-week deal that gave them the No. 10 overall selection.

The New Orleans Pelicans made the selection for the Grizzlies under a deal that won’t be completed until Aug. 6 under NBA rules.

The Grizzlies were slated to pick 17th but moved up by sending center Jonas Valanciunas and 2021 draft picks (No. 17 and No. 51) to the Pelicans for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe and 2021 picks (No. 10 and No. 40) along with a top-10 protected 2022 first-round pick.

Memphis added Loyola (Maryland) 6-11 center/forward Santi Aldama with the final pick of the first round at No. 30 in a draft-night trade with Utah as the Jazz made the selection. The Grizzlies sent their second-round pick (No. 40) and two future second-round picks in exchange.

Williams, 19, adds young depth to a Grizzlies’ roster that features rising stars Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., both 21.

“I love the energy that the whole organization has from the front office to the players and coaches,” Williams said. “I feel I could fit perfectly as a locker room guy and rookie just learning and developing. This is the perfect organization for me.”

And to Grizzlies executive vice president of basketball operations Zach Kleiman, Williams was the perfect fit and worthy of trading up to obtain.

“We were after Ziaire,” Kleiman said. “We had an incredibly high degree of confidence that Ziaire was not going to be there at 17. Ziaire is a terrific, terrific person and it’s a rare skill set he brings to the table -- 6-9 playmakers who can pass, dribble, shoot and defend and who are cultural fits.”

Williams was a McDonald’s All-American. In his lone season at Stanford, the 6-foot-8 and 185-pound Williams averaged 10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 20 games. Williams shot 37.1%, including 29.1% on 3-pointers.

In his college debut against Alabama in the Maui Classic, he scored 19 points, but only surpassed 15 points in five of the team’s remaining 19 games. Despite the modest production, Williams recorded the second triple-double in Stanford history against Washington. He started 14 of 20 games.

While at Sierra Canyon High School in California, he was named to the United States team for the FIBA Under-19 World Championships. He averaged 4.6 points for the U.S. team, which earned the gold medal. As a senior at Sierra Canyon, Williams averaged 15 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

With the Grizzlies, Williams expects his versatility to be an asset.

“At 6-9, 6-10, I can play some (power forward) and shoot the 3, I can attack for myself and attack for others,” he said. “I can shoot mid-range. I just feel I can be a threat at all the bases on the offensive end (from) coming off screens and cutting, doing whatever. (Memphis) is going to get a guy with a team-first mentality who is going to sacrifice his body and his time.”

Aldama, 20, played two seasons at Loyola and averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds in 27 career games. Last season, he averaged 21.2 points and 10.1 rebounds to become the first player in Patriot League history to average 20 and 10 as the Greyhounds reached their first conference championship game.

Aldama, from Las Palmas, Spain, shot 51.3 percent last season, including 36.8 percent from 3-point range. He ranked first in the Patriot League in rebounding and second in scoring.

The Grizzlies reached the playoffs last season, but were knocked out in the opening round by the Jazz.

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