Charlotte Hornets

The hole North Carolina’s Kenny Williams must fill to be NBA-viable for draft

North Carolina’s Kenny Williams

Kenny Williams after his draft workout with the Charlotte Hornets
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Kenny Williams after his draft workout with the Charlotte Hornets

Kenny Williams has a pedigree (national championship at North Carolina), a knack for defense and an abundance of frenetic energy.

That’s nice, but it might not suffice as an NBA resume.

Williams was one of six draft candidates working out for the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday at Spectrum Center. This was the second of what is expected to be 20 or more such workouts in preparation for the June 20 draft at Barclays Center in New York.

NBA draft preparations ramp up next week in Chicago with the lottery Tuesday night followed by the combine, plus a supplemental camp overseen by the G-League.

Wednesday with the Hornets was the only workout scheduled so far for Williams, a 6-foot-4 guard, He wasn’t among 66 players invited to the combine, or even to the G-League camp, as fellow Tar Heel Luke Maye was.

So just being selected among the 60 draft picks next month appears challenging for Williams’ future. Right now, he is a shooting guard without a reliable jump shot; his shooting percent from the college 3-point line plummeted from 40 percent as a junior to 29.5 percent as a senior.

“That was my big thing this year: I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I wanted to or other people wanted me to,” Williams said following his workout. “If I can come out here and show teams I can make the 3 and put the ball in the basket at a pretty high level, then I think I’ll put myself in a good position.”

Williams appears better equipped to impact games at the pro level at the defensive end, particularly at a time when switching defenses are so in vogue. The persistence and energy he demonstrated in four seasons for the Tar Heels would be his hook to get a summer league invitation if he goes undrafted.

“I think with my activity level, I kind of make up for some of the length I don’t have,” Williams described. “I pride myself on outworking people, and I believe that’s something that can translate to every level: How much you work can affect somebody else.”

At 185 pounds, Williams clearly will need to bulk up some at the pro level, but he believes his defensive versatility can be an entry point to the next level.

“I think I can guard 1-through-4 (point guard to power forward), particularly the way the power forwards are out on the perimeter now” offensively, Williams said.

“I think if I have to stop them from getting the ball, I can deny them.”