(First posted RealGM)
Ulis is a favorite of many draftniks because of his intelligence and because he is an underdog facing very long odds of becoming an impact player at the next level due to his five-foot-nine, 149-pound frame.
Ulis’ intelligence materializes on the court in his awareness not to drive into a crowd – rarely putting himself in position to turn the ball over, and his passing on the move. His 3.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio over his three seasons at Kentucky are quite impressive when you consider how much dribbling with purpose Ulis was tasked with making, especially over the last couple of years.
But there is skepticism regarding how much of his ability to create for others will translate in the pros because Ulis is a below average threat to score at best. He has a tight handle, nifty hesitation moves to get by his man and the quickness to go side-to-side to snake the pick-and-roll. But that can only get Ulis separation to launch mid-range jump-shots, since he can’t attack length at the basket with any sort of burst or explosiveness.
Ulis is a decent shot maker off the bounce, even from three-point range, but does not play with the sort of aggressiveness someone his size needs in order to be deemed a credible threat for the defense to be thrown out of balance. Jonathan Tjarks made a good point about JJ Barea once, that also applies to others like him such as Nate Robinson and Isaiah Thomas; people often complain about how these guys tend to dribble the air out of the ball and hunt for their own shots constantly but that’s really the only way they can survive in that league. And Ulis has never shown the propensity to do that.
On top of that, he projects to be a massive liability on defense. He’s aware of where he is supposed to be, which rotations he is supposed to make and the proper time to gamble. He tries to fight, front and get physical whenever he finds himself switched on a big man. Ulis has the lateral quickness and puts in the effort to stay in front but, simply put, he lacks the length and the strength to contribute in any sort of meaningful way.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara