Cade Cunningham Scouting Report

CONTEXT

If you are reading this blog, odds are you know plenty enough about Cade Cunningham by now, so you don’t really need a write-up on his background, and I’ll just update you with the latest developments;

  • Despite being the sort of prospect NBA teams plan to tank for years in advance, he ended up the second-ranked recruit in the 2020 high school class[1] because Jalen Green had a killer senior year at Prolific Prep
  • With Cunningham leading the way, Montverde Academy dominated high school basketball in Florida, to the point where it started to become widely speculated as perhaps the greatest high school team ever
  • In one of Montverde’s appearances on ESPN, a graphic showcasing Cunningham’s profile had the line “complete player” in the section under scouting report. I first snarked at the simplicity of the assessment but upon further thought, it is actually about right
  • The NCAA punished Oklahoma State with a postseason ban for this next season and there was trepidation at first that the six-foot-seven point-guard would then opt to leave school and sit out the year or join the G-League but he later announced he intended to fulfill his commitment
    • It is worth keeping in mind that part of why the 18-year-old[2] agreed to spend his pre-NBA year at Oklahoma State is the presence of his older brother in the coaching staff
  • ESPN ranked him first in its way-too-early 2021 mock draft

PASSING

  • Acted more as a primary scorer in the most prominent games this past season but it is worth establishing first that his court vision and the versatility of his passing remain the most appealing attributes of his skillset
  • Consistently impresses with the timing, touch, and accuracy of his deliveries in transition
    • Hook passes to the corner
    • Shovel passes to the wing
    • No-look passes with a numbers advantage
    • Lobs on the move with perfect timing
  • Has developed remarkable manipulation skills for someone his age against a set defense in the half-court
    • Passes over the top in side pick-and-roll
    • Crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body in middle pick-and-roll
    • Well-timed pocket passes
    • Lobs off putting the on-ball defender on his back and engaging the help defender to free up the roll man
    • Hammer passes to weakside shooters off deep dribble penetration
  • Showed in his time with the United States at the U19 World Cup a year ago that he doesn’t need to monopolize possession to the ball to impact ball movement, able to act as a connective tissue to create for others against a scrambling defense as well
    • Kickouts and drop-offs off engaging the last line of defense on straight-line drives
    • Extra passes around the horn to keep the offense humming
    • Touch passes off cuts

IN-BETWEEN SCORING

  • Has good feel for using or declining picks at the point of attack to create separation or get into the lane
  • Continued to show remarkable dexterity and impressive versatility to his finishing over length from the in-between area, able to launch floaters in a multitude of ways
    • Runners
    • Teardrops off euro-steps
    • Floaters off a jump-stop
    • Touch-shots off the catch on cuts
    • Push-shots off a shot-fake to get his defender to flyby
  • One-dribble pull-up jumper off the ball-screen has become very smooth
  • Seemed to want to showcase the development of his pull-up package in isolation a little more this past season
    • Impressed with his calmness not getting sped up late in the shot clock
    • Not very sudden or shifty to shake his man out of position all that often but manages to create separation via crafty ball-handling and footwork with in-and-out dribbles, crossovers and step-backs
    • Doesn’t have a high release on his pull-up jumper but gets good elevation and proved capable of getting his shot off over big men on switches

FINISHING

  • Was consistently able to play through contact in high school thanks to his strong 215-pound frame
  • Struggled as a finisher in a more demanding environment at the U19 World but those issues didn’t seem to carry to the high school season
  • Made strides in terms of protecting the ball in traffic some more
  • Mostly an up-and-down rim-level finisher but started to show some versatility to his finishing package dealing with a help-defender parked between him and the basket
    • Showed the flexibility needed to hang or adjust his body in the air for double clutch and finger-roll finishes
    • Seems more capable and more comfortable of going to his left hand
    • Flashed a very impressive wrong foot, wrong hand layup at one point
    • Can go up with power off one foot in space but hasn’t yet shown to be as explosive in traffic

SHOOTING

  • Release off the catch continues to look pretty fluid
    • Catches on the hop
    • Goes through compact mechanics with a low release out in front but manages to get good elevation to be able to shoot over closeouts comfortably more often than not
  • Hasn’t yet developed the trigger and the footwork to take shots on the move regularly but toyed with some quick bombs joining the offense late in transition
  • Hard to say for sure without data but the brutal struggles he dealt with shooting at the U19 World Cup (when he missed 13 of his 14 three-point shots) apparently didn’t carry to the high school season

POST OFFENSE

  • Pretty comfortable posting up smaller guys
    • Not just an empty bullet, seems to look to do so a couple of times a game
  • Has a patient approach operating with his back to the basket
  • Looks to set up basic right-handed hooks over the top but also flashed a turnaround fadeaway jumper with great fluidity

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE

  • Continued to defend opposing point guards primarily and continued to prove himself capable of holding up well enough against smaller players full time
  • Works to go over picks at the point of attack
    • Hustle in pursuit to make plays from behind didn’t stand out as much as it had the previous season but Cunningham has plenty of good video showing his commitment to that task that it is clears he remains capable of acting as an impact defender in the pick-and-roll
  • Bends his knees to get down in a stance defending in isolation
    • Has shown to have several lateral slides in him in one direction to stay in out in space
    • Leverages the strength in his 215-pound frame to contain dribble penetration through contact consistently at the high school level
    • Has flashed lateral quickness to stay attached to smaller guards who can shake him side-to-side
    • Puts in the effort to contest pull-ups
    • Can block a shot defending on the ball

HELP DEFENSE

  • Often attentive to his responsibilities rotating in to pick up the roll man
    • Showed glimpses of explosive leaping ability to block shots coming off the weakside on longer rotations
  • Mixes it up on scrums
    • Helps crowd the area near the basket
    • Can block a shot from the side
    • Often looks to boxout whoever is close by
  • Closeouts, which had been better at the U19 World Cup than the previous season, left something to be desired again this past season

[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: Sep/25/2001

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

Killian Hayes Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Killian Hayes took a chance this offseason.

Ranked second among prospects with European ties born in 2001[1], he had a decent first full year as a pro with Cholet last season – averaging 19.7 minutes per game in 34 appearances in the French Jeep Elite.

Largely used as a secondary shot creator off the bench then, Hayes was probably in line for an increase in responsibility with London Perrantes moving on but the 18-year-old[2] still opted to transfer to mid-tier German side Ulm instead, which was coming off a solid sixth place finish in the German BBL but doesn’t traditionally compete with giants Bayern München, Alba Berlin and Brose Baskets.

Playing for head coach Jaka Lakovic, the six-foot-four guard is running point full time in his 23.8 minutes per game – triggering the motion offense Ulm runs on an every-possession basis and being tasked with coming up with something in middle high pick-and-roll when the system doesn’t generate something on its own.

In his new environment and under what appears to be very good guidance, he is exceling as a shot creator for others. Ulm isn’t a very good team – standing at .500 in the German BBL but having lost nine out of 10 games in the Eurocup – though it has improved over the last month or so. Nonetheless, Hayes appears to have made a good decision in terms of choosing a team that could offer him the right combination of opportunity and support system for him to develop on offense.

On the end, the French citizen hasn’t developed as much. His effort is pleasing enough, both on and off the ball, but there are also plenty of mistakes, which is par for the course with a teenager, and his contributions in terms of creating events don’t really jump off the page.

ESPN currently ranks him 13th in its top 100, at the time of writing.

PASSING

The lefty has been extremely impressive as an old school pure point guard – controlling the tempo, consistently vocal and assertive organizing the offense in the half-court and looking to create for others as his priority.

His handle is very well developed for someone his age, as Hayes keeps the ball in a string, mixes pound dribbles and in-and-out dribbles to manipulate the on-ball defender into the screen, and changes the pace of his dribbling regularly to get his man in jail or snake the pick-and-roll to give a slower roller like Grant Jarrett an opportunity to dive into scoring position.

He has proven himself a real pick-and-roll maestro in terms of playing with pace, making smart use of re-screens, showing a good feel for rejecting the picks, igniting hard shifts of direction to split the double team at the point of attack and generally tying up the help whenever he gets into the lane.

The versatility of his passing is often in full display as well. Besides basic kickouts to the strongside off drawing two to the ball, Hayes can deliver well timed pocket passes, toss up lobs on the move, launch hook passes across the momentum of his body or jump-passes over traffic to the opposite corner and skip-pass back to a stretch big in the pick-and-pop. He can even be an asset as the third party when the team shorts the pick-and-roll.

The Lakeland, Florida native is an awesome passer in transition as well – throwing ahead just to naturally speed up the pace of the game or launching bullet passes and slingshot passes to a teammate sprinting up the court on a fast-break.

He has assisted on 42.2% of Ulm’s scores in the 572 minutes he’s been on the floor this season[3], at a pace of 9.2 assists per 40 minutes. His 131 total assists are by far the most up until this point of anyone ranked on ESPN’s top 100, at the time of writing, with second place LaMelo Ball currently at 88 assists.

Hayes, however, has been quite turnover prone as well. He is actually savvy protecting the ball in traffic and his handle rarely gets away from him but bulldog on-ball defenders have proven capable of getting into his dribble and taking the ball from him on occasion, though the biggest cause for his giveaway rate seems to be the over-aggressiveness of his passing.

As he is consistently looking for the crosscourt pass, at times trying to anticipate a rotation before truly getting enough into the lane to trigger the help and free up the shooter, Hayes gets quite a few of his passes intercepted.

As his high assist rate attests, he adds a ton of value with his aggressiveness looking for the opposite corner, but he is also averaging 5.7 turnovers per 40 minutes, which is bringing down his assist-to-turnover ratio to 1.6.

FINISHING

Hayes rarely turns the corner or gets downhill with any sort of speed, especially if forced to his right hand.

When he does look to attack off the ball-screen and threaten the rim on occasion, Hayes relies on hesitation moves and some side-to-side shake dancing with the ball to losing the on-ball defender through the pick.

He’s flashed some ability to elevate with power off momentum and in space to go up unchallenged but is generally not an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic.

Hayes also hasn’t shown a lot in terms of capability finishing among the trees. Other than an exotic wrong foot-wrong hand layup on occasion, he usually goes to a left handed scoop at the rim, as he hasn’t yet developed his right hand as an asset, enough physicality to finish through contact or a knack for earning foul calls (3.6 free throws per 40 minutes).

Operating in isolation, Hayes does not have an explosive first step to just blow by his man. His right-to-left crossover can get a lot of defenders out of position, but he then struggles to turn on the jets and just go.

Hayes has gotten by a few slower wings and big men on occasion but can’t win a lot of one-on-one’s against guys who can move sideways well enough to stay attached and struggles to maintain his balance through contact.

As a result, he is often looking for enough space to unleash left handed runners or floaters off a jump-stop from the in-between area, and has actually proven to be quite effective on such shots, as he’s converted 57.1% of his 126 total two-point shots, despite the fact he is not yet a particularly impressive finisher at the rim.

SHOOTING

His two-point percentage is also strong because he has shot well on mid-range pull-up jumpers.

Hayes is a better shooter in rhythm off the bounce than on catch-and-shoot attempts at this point of his development, as he’s more comfortable galloping into pull-ups when the opponent goes so under the pick that he can’t contest effectively.

His more ambitions shots – crossing over into side-step three-pointers, step-back pull-ups, rising off a hang dribble – don’t go in as often, especially those from longer range, but his footwork in these instances tends to be fairly impressive.

The consistency of his release on spot-ups isn’t there yet, though. The southpaw sets an odd base and isn’t a 10-toes-pointed-at-the-rim shooter. He has a low release out in front, pulls the trigger with little confidence and launches what seems like a push shot at times.

Hayes has nailed just a third of his 72 three-point shots, at a pace of five such attempts per 40 minutes, after missing 63 of his 77 long-range bombs with Cholet last season. He is, however, nailing 88.5% of his 52 free throws, after hitting 41 of 50 foul shots last season – suggesting that at least the natural touch exists as a foundation for a jumper that will probably need to be re-worked eventually.

ON BALL DEFENSE

Hayes bends his knees to get down in a stance, ices ball screens on the side of the floor, leverages his six-foot-eight wingspan[4] to envelop smaller point guards on occasion, has multiple lateral slides in him to stay in front one-on-one out in space, puts in the effort to contest pull-ups and can block a shot defending on the ball.

On the downside, despite his well put together 216-pound frame[5], he doesn’t play with enough physicality to contain dribble penetration through contact. Often too jumpy, Hayes is also prone to biting on shot fakes and is averaging a sky-high 5.0 personal fouls per 40 minutes.

His work in the pick-and-roll is equally uneven. He struggles to get skinny navigating through screens at the point of attack but hustles in pursuit to get back into plays.

Despite his eight-foot-five standing reach and 216-pouind frame, there is no indication he is a good option to pick up bigger players on switches at this time, given his general lack of physicality and tenacity.

OFF BALL DEFENSE

Hayes stays in a stance away from the ball and puts in the effort to execute the scheme in terms of stopping the ball in transition, rotating in to pick up the roll man, stunting-and-recovering swiftly, helping clog driving lanes and looking to boxout whoever is close by a fair amount.

He has shown very good instincts leveraging his length into making plays in the passing lanes, picking up 2.2 steals per 40 minutes on average.

On the flipside, Hayes can get caught ball watching from time-to-time, isn’t quick enough to deny handoffs, helps off the strongside corner an unsettling amount, misses quite a few assignments switching on the fly, gambles shooting gap instead of chasing the shooter around the screen and can be hit-and-miss with his balance forcing the shooter to put the ball on the floor on hard closeouts.

He can pitch in on the glass but has collected just 11.2% of opponents’ misses this season – a somewhat unimpressive mark for a big guard.


[1] According to Eurospects

[2] DOB: 7/27/2001

[3] According to RealGM

[4] Measured at the 2018 NBA Global Camp, according to Eurospects

[5] According to Ulm’s official listing

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

Nico Mannion Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Nico Mannion managed to maintain the standard for what was expected of him through the non-conference part of the calendar.

Ranked ninth the in the 2019 high school class[1], the six-foot-three point-guard averaged 19.3 points per 40 minutes on 55.6% true shooting and assisted on 35.6% of Arizona’s scores in his 396 minutes[2].

With him leading the team in minutes and dictating the way it plays offense on an every-possession basis, Arizona won 10 of its 13 games against the 134th-toughest schedule in the country[3].

As noticed from his performance in high school, the 18-year-old[4] is a good shooter off the dribble and a very good passer on the move, which stresses the defense into extending coverage against him in the pick-and-roll and having the help defenders stunt an extra step in to protect against the dive.

So far, Mannion has proven himself capable of hitting the weakside corner shooters freed up by the threat of his pull-ups and his well-timed passes to the roll man. He has, however, struggled to get to the rim and create separation against higher-caliber athletes, which raises cause for attention as Arizona enters the conference part of schedule after the end-of-year break.

On the other end, the Italian puts in the effort in individual defense and can execute the scheme away from the ball but lacks the athletic ability needed to be expected to make much of a difference. As is, in order to be a part of a high-end defense at the next level, he’s probably going to have to be hidden most of the time.

More or less viewed about the same as he was off graduating Pinnacle High School, ESPN ranks him eighth in its top 100, at the time of writing.

PASSING

Mannion is not of those geniuses who anticipate passing lanes a split-second before they come open but has very advanced court vision and has proven himself capable of creating for others in a multitude of ways.

Besides basic drop-offs and kickouts to the strongside off drawing two to the ball, he passes ahead to speed up the pace of the game and can play with pace in the pick-and-roll. The Siena native can deliver well timed pocket passes, hit the roll man with a jump-pass, toss up lobs on the move and launch hook passes to the opposite corner against the momentum of his body in traffic.

Thanks to the versatility of his passing, Mannion is averaging 8.2 assists per 40 minutes so far this season.

He has also exceled at creating for others in volume while maintaining risk under control. His 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks fourth among players ranked on ESPN’s top 100, behind only Tyrese Haliburton (3.1), Killian Tillie (3.0) and LaMelo Ball (2.7).

SHOOTING

Mannion has shown to be a good shooter off the catch, even if one could argue Arizona hasn’t optimized the versatility of his release up until this point.

Besides basic spot-ups, he’s flashed the ability to take shots off sprinting to the ball for hand-offs, relocating off a passing sequence initiated by a kickout of his and curling around a pindown screen for a one-dribble pull-up. His willingness to screen off the ball could also become an asset for a more creative coach to integrate within a more dynamic offense.

Mannion has a low release out in front but rises in balance and gets great elevation off the floor, going through compact mechanics to pull the trigger quickly prior to closeouts and often getting a good arc on his shot.

He has nailed an anticlimactic 34.9% of his 63 three-point shots, but at a healthy pace of 6.4 such attempts per 40 minutes. It’s also relevant to note that he does the bulk of his work off the bounce, with less than two thirds of his three-point makes and only one tenth of his midrange makes assisted[5], and that his iffy shot selection plays a role in his unimpressive efficiency from long-range as well.

His hit rate has been better from the dreaded long-two range, as Mannion has shown to be a resourceful shot creator for himself too – proving he’s capable of hitting not only pull-ups off an escape dribble or basic step in jumpers in the pick-and-roll but also nailing pull-ups off going behind the back, jab-steps, step-backs, hang dribbles and absorbing contact one-on-one.

Mannion has shot 43.1% of his 65 two-point shots away from the rim, accounting for one third of his total scoring.

He has, however, struggled to create separation against higher-caliber athletes. If it becomes a more evident problem against Pac 12 competition, it might be what a team that doesn’t end up taking him in the top 10 prefers to focus on rather than his shot making and his passing abilities.

FINISHING

Mannion is a resourceful player attacking one-on-one – unleashing head fakes, hesitation moves, crossovers, spin moves and in-and-out dribbles to try getting by his man in isolation.

He doesn’t have an explosive first step or all that much speed with the ball, though. Even when he gets downhill in pick-and-roll, Mannion rarely gets to the rim before the opposing big man gets to him.

To compound the problem, Sean Miller’s strong preference for having two true big men on the floor at all times clogs the lane and makes it so that drivers always need to maneuver their way through traffic to make it to the basket and rarely do so in a real position of strength.

Mannion has taken just 21 shots at the rim in his 396 minutes and earned 5.0 free throws per 40 minutes.

He is not an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic, most often acting as a below the rim finisher in the half-court, but has shown to be a well-developed scorer among the trees as well – converting two thirds of his few shots at the basket, with just one of his 14 makes assisted.

Mannion can adjust his body in the air for double clutch finishes around rim protectors, unleash right-handed finger roll layups or launch floaters off a jump-stop and runners with either hand to score from the in-between area.

DEFENSE

He bends his knees to get down in a stance and can heat up the opposing ball handler from time-to-time, showing somewhat impressive side-to-side shiftiness to stay in front one-on-one, though his lean 175-pound frame prevents him from chesting up and containing dribble penetration through contact regularly.

Somewhat disappointingly in pick-and-roll defense, Mannion is generally iffy going over picks at the point of attack and hasn’t shown particularly noteworthy intensity hustling in pursuit to challenge shots or passes from behind.

Given his small frame, eight-foot-one standing reach[6] and merely average level of tenacity, he is not an option to pick up bigger players on switches either.

Mannion is good at chasing shooters all over the floor – sprinting his way around screens, showing urgency to run him off his shot on hard closeouts and maintaining his balance to defend off the bounce.

But other than that, he can’t make much of an impact, as he doesn’t fly around to create events, rebounds at a below average level and hasn’t developed into any sort of an asset in help defense.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to RealGM

[3] According to Ken Pomeroy

[4] DOB: 3/14/2001

[5] According to hoop-math

[6] Measured at the 2019 Nike Hoop Summit, according to The Stepien

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

LaMelo Ball Scouting Report

First posted at RealGM

CONTEXT

His development has been extremely eventful, to say the very least.

He was fast-tracked into high school, in order to play with his brothers – part of a team whose style of play was profiled by The New York Times and The Ringer.

He was one of the headliners of what was, arguably, the single most hyped AAU game of all time.

When his father got into a disagreement with the coach at Chino Hills and his brother was suspended in his first few months at UCLA, his brother and him, 16 years old at the time, signed with Lithuanian club Prienu Vytautas – with the idea that he wouldn’t play in the more competitive Lithuanian LKL and only suit up in the less competitive Baltic League.

The plan disintegrated once Vytautas abandoned the Baltic League soon upon his arrival, with his father and the team organizing a pirate tournament sponsored by his father’s apparel company to make up for the lost games instead. He eventually logged 102 minutes in the Lithuanian LKL but left the team to return to the US prior to the end of the season.

After a few months playing in a pirate league organized by his father in the summer of 2018, he enrolled at SPIRE Institute to play his senior year of high school in Ohio and ended up the 21st-ranked recruit in the 2019 class[1].

Almost certainly expected to be ruled ineligible by the NCAA to play in college, given his professional experience and shoe deal with his father’s apparel company, he then signed with the Australian NBL through their “Next Stars” initiative and was assigned to the Illawarra Hawks – a team that finished seventh out of nine teams last season.

Incredibly enough, when you consider everything listed above, he only turned 18 last August[2].

Perhaps even more incredibly, when you consider his path to this point, LaMelo Ball is now the top-ranked player in next year’s draft[3].

That’s the case because he’s had the most productive first couple months of any prospect in this class.

Said to be taking the experience in Australia a lot more seriously than the one he had in Lithuania, Ball has completely turned around the perception of him and re-focused people’s attentions to his attributes on the court.

His team in Australia is arguably as bad as the one he played for in Lithuania. At the time of writing, Illawarra has lost 11 of its 14 games and ranks last in the NBL standings. That has probably played to his favor, though. The lack of top-tier talent around him has offered Ball the opportunity to run offense, log 27.2% usage, average 21.9 points per 40 minutes on 44.5% effective shooting and get good exposure.

This positive stretch has been put on pause by a foot injury that is expected to hold him out for another three weeks, but Ball seems to have done enough already to consolidate his status as a likely top five pick.

PASSING

Ball has assisted on 36.9% of Illawarra’s scores when he’s been on the floor this season – which ranks second in the league.

He is the primary ball handler on the team, especially after Aaron Brooks tore his Achilles a few weeks ago – responsible for pushing the ball up the court in transition, get actions triggered in the half-court and run middle high pick-and-roll when things bog down late in the shot clock.

His court vision is his most impressive skill at this point of his development, which is made evident through his long outlet passes and his advanced reads off a ball-screen.

Ball can see over smaller defenders on the move and in traffic thanks to his six-foot-five height[4]. He’s shown good patience manipulating his defender into re-screens and proven himself able to hit the roll man over the top consistently, besides launching hook passes against the momentum of his body to the opposite corner with either hand quite aggressively.

The cost of that aggressiveness as a shot creator for others is that Ball turns the ball over quite a bit as well, as he’s averaged 3.2 giveaways per 40 minutes.

But the positives of his frequent attempts to thread the needle and the flair with which he plays mostly outweigh the negatives, as Ball has also impressed with the timing of his deliveries on pocket passes, behind-the-back bounce feeds to the roll man, lobs, drop-offs and skip passes to big men in the pick-and-pop.

SCORING

His scoring is not as further along as his passing.

His 21.9 points per 40 minutes are coming on 20.7 field goal attempts and 4.9 free throw attempts per 40 minutes.

Ball does most of his work in middle high pick-and-roll. He has a tight handle and good feel for manipulating his defender into the ball-screen but doesn’t have an explosive first step or particularly impressive speed attacking downhill.

He can go up with some power off momentum if left unchallenged on his path to the rim but is generally not an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic.

His finishing package is promising. Ball can hang and adjust his body in the air, is flexible enough to double clutch mid-flight, flashes his left hand as an asset on scoop finishes from time-to-time, shows impressive touch on right-handed finger roll finishes, leverages his length on extended finishes, unleashed a wrong foot-wrong hand layup at one point, and gets to the foul line a fair amount.

He doesn’t blow by his man one-on-one all that often, unless he gets a big on a switch and that guy completely bites on his hesitation move or his crossover. And though he does quite a bit of dancing with the ball, Ball has also shown only so-so shiftiness for the most part.

But he is pretty resourceful in his attempts to attack in isolation – able to go to a sick in-and-out dribble to try getting his defender to take a false step, maintain his balance through contact despite his lean 190-pound frame in the context of his height and pivot into a well-coordinated spin move to get into the lane.

Ball doesn’t get to the basket as much as he could, though.

Part of it is that he isn’t all that fast with the ball. Another part of it is that his team doesn’t offer him all that many clean driving lanes by tying up the help. Another part is that Ball has shown a strong preference for relying on his runner – most often seeming more comfortable snaking the pick-and-roll into setting up a floater rather than getting downhill on a straight line drive or turning the corner to get all the way to the goal or rising for an elbow pull-up.

And it has not proven to be a winning formula, as he’s shot just 46.4% on two-pointers so far.

Another part is that he’s been a poor pull-up shooter up until this point, so opponents are not incentivized to try running him off his shot. Ball sets an unorthodox base and goes through unorthodox mechanics in his jumpers – a two-hand shot, released from in front of his face.

He has taken a few side-step pull-ups from time-to-time and his jumper off going between the legs in a pinch can look pretty sleek but it’s rare to see him attempt a step-back jump-shot or managing to create separation and elevating comfortably while going to his left. Ball also needs to get great elevation in order to shoot over contests, given the launch point of his low release.

If he can get his shot off uncontested, Ball has proven he is a capable shot maker, even from deep NBA range. But he’s shot just 27.9% from three-point range so far this season, at a pace of 8.4 such attempts per 40 minutes.

Ball tends to be a more reliable shooter off the ball, with his feet set. He has a quick trigger due to compact mechanics and gets a good arc on his spot-up three-pointers.

But, while he’s taken a few shots sprinting to the ball for hand-offs, it’s unclear for now if Ball can offer versatility as a shooter on the move.

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE

Mostly perceived to be a disinterested defender in his mid-teens, Ball has improved the perception of him a lot on that end, at least in terms of defending on the ball.

He consistently bends his knees to get down in a stance, works to go over picks at the point of attack, moves his feet laterally to try staying attached to smaller players out in space and puts in the effort to contest pull-ups.

But despite his best efforts, he is mostly uneven, at best.

Ball struggles to get skinny navigating over picks and gets stuck quite a bit. He does try hustling in pursuit to try making plays from behind but rarely succeeds in blocking a shot, contesting effectively or discouraging an attempt. Opponents sometimes go out of their way to try putting him in the pick-and-roll to try opening the gates of Illawarra’s defense.

Ball has found himself switched onto bigger plays on occasion and has shown glimpses of tenacity trying to front the post and prevent an easy seal but that sort of feistiness on defense is usually hit-and-miss from him and he lacks the strength needed to be considered a reliable option to exchange onto these types regularly.

He’s been more effective defending in isolation – showing decent lateral quickness to stay in front of smaller players more often than not and leveraging his length into reaching around for some steals, though rarely playing with enough physicality to chest up and contain dribble penetration through contact.

TEAM DEFENSE

Ball is a very good rebounder for someone his position – having collected 22.2% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season. He is pretty quick chasing the ball off the rim and has even shown some diligence boxing out whoever is close by, though he is not very physical with it.

Although he overdoes it some by misreading his chances and hunting for them when he shouldn’t, Ball has flashed a knack for jumping passing lanes and is averaging 2.0 steals per 40 minutes – ranking fifth in the league in total steals, at the time of writing.

But other than relying on his instincts to create events, he has not proven himself an asset in other areas of team defense, such as position and help.

Ball does not stay in a stance off the ball and rarely assists in packing the lane by clogging driving lanes. He has shown glimpses of being able to block a shot on basic help defense reads but doesn’t rotate in to pick up the roll man a whole lot.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 8/22/2001

[3] According to ESPN

[4] He is speculated to be around six-foot-seven now but there is no official listing

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

Tyrese Haliburton Scouting Report

CONTEXT

After a steady but quiet first year at Iowa State, where he averaged just 8.2 points per 40 minutes on a staggeringly low 9.1% usage rate but while posting 66.6% true shooting and turning the ball over just 28 times in 35 appearances[1], Tyrese Haliburton was called for the United States’ squad that went on to win the U19 FIBA World Championships in Crete last month.

The six-foot-five lead guard excelled as one of the top shot creators on the team and made the All-Tournament squad. His percentages were as efficient against that level of competition as they were in his first year of collegiate basketball, with the 19-year-old[2] leading the tournament in offensive rating and effective field goal percentage while turning the ball over just eight times in 174 minutes.

Ranked 172nd in his high school class just a year ago[3], Haliburton is now viewed as a potential first round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, as ESPN ranked him 25th in its way-too-early mock, which was released prior to his appearance in Crete, so he is expected to move up a bunch of spots in their next release.

The Oshkosh, Wisconsin native profiles as a caretaker point guard who can fit on offense alongside a ball dominant wing due to his ability to nail open shots, despite his unorthodox release, and create for others in a more secondary role.

Though he has excelled at scoring efficiently this past year against multiple levels of competition, Haliburton is not viewed as a potential star because the volume hasn’t been there just yet. Even in Create, where he was often responsible for breaking down the defense first and then late in the shot clock when needed, Haliburton posted just 8.8% usage rate.

On the other end, he is pretty tenacious heating up the opposing ball handler and has shown a knack for creating events, not just reaching around for strips or jumping passing lanes but even picking up a block per 40 minutes on average.

But despite his height, Haliburton doesn’t offer a lot of versatility as a defender just yet because of his thin 172-pound frame, which restricts him to being viewed as more of a one-position defender at this point of physical development.

SHOT CREATION & SCORING ABILITY ON THE BALL

His top skill as of now is his court vision and the accuracy of his deliveries.

Haliburton excels at creating for others out of pick-and-roll, proving himself able to turn the corner off the ball screen and deliver well-timed pocket passes, engage the big defender before dropping off the roll man on slower rolls, hit the roll man over the top in side pick-and-roll, launch crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body to the weak-side corner and toss up lobs on the move.

He assisted on 32.3% of the United States’ scores when he was on the floor in the World Championships, a top 15 mark, while posting a 6.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. Haliburton is pretty savvy protecting the ball in traffic, tucking it on hard drives to the basket in order to prevent having it stripped of him by weak-side defenders.

He got to the basket some in pick-and-roll and scored efficiently – converting 12 of his 14 two-pointers in the event. Though he flashed a couple of powerful one-foot leaps with space to load up, Haliburton for the most part acted as a below the rim finisher in the half-court, as he didn’t show to be as explosive going up with power in traffic.

Haliburton did flash some resources to score among the trees, though. He is flexible enough to adjust his body in the air for reverses and showed a good deal of dexterity overextending for righty finger-roll finishes.

That said, Haliburton doesn’t attack the basket in a manner conducive to drawing contact and rarely gets to the foul line – earning just 26 free throws in 35 appearances last season and just three free throws in 174 minutes in Crete.

While operating in isolation, Haliburton hasn’t shown to be particularly fast with the ball or to have developed a deep arsenal of dribble moves to shake his man out of position, though he managed to get by big men on switches. He also didn’t look for mid-range pull-ups or launched floaters to act as a scoring threat from the in-between area.

His most reliable source of scoring on the ball at this point appears to be via stepping into a pull-up three-pointer against the defender going under the screen in pick-and-roll. With time and space to go through his motion uncontested, Haliburton has shown to be at least a capable shooter off the bounce, though he often looks to take these while setting his feet as close to the shorter line as he can, which causes skepticism over his ability to translate this shot into true NBA range in the near future.

CATCH&SHOOT SHOOTING

It might look weird but he has certainly carried his weight as an open-shot spot-up shooter over this past year.

Haliburton gets little elevation off the ground as a near-standstill shooter and launches the ball almost from the side of his head. It’s pretty mechanical and looks like a push shot at times but it’s hard to argue with the results.

He nailed 10 of his 18 three-point shots in the World Championships and even took a three-pointer jogging to the ball for a handoff. That was after hitting 43.4% of his 113 three-point shots with Iowa State last season, at a pace of 3.9 such attempts per 40 minutes.

DEFENSE

Haliburton bends his knees to get down in a stance and is pretty active heating up opposing ball handlers.

In pick-and-roll, he can get skinny going over picks at the point of attack and hustles in pursuit to try discouraging or blocking shots from behind.

In isolation, Haliburton has as many lateral slides in him as needed to stay in front. Though he lacks the strength and physicality to chest up and contain dribble penetration through contact, Haliburton leverages his length to reach around for strips.

He is attentive to his responsibilities executing the scheme away from the ball as well and impressed with his disposition in terms of multiple efforts.

Haliburton showed a knack for creating events by making plays on the ball from the side while helping clog driving lanes and jumping passing lanes. His average of 3.7 steals per 40 minutes ranked 13th in the World Championships.

He flashed the ability to run the shooter off his shot on hard closeouts and proved to be quite effective by contesting the shot as well, even picking up a block on a catch-and-shoot in impressive fashion.

Haliburton isn’t as productive in terms of pitching in on the glass, though. He is proactive by helping the helper with boxouts but lacks the leaping ability to go after the ball himself – collecting just 8.8% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor with Iowa State last season and 6.7% with the United States in the World Championships.


[1] According to Real GM

[2] DOB: 2/29/2000

[3] According to 247 Sports

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

Nico Mannion Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

Mannion has shown to have the best court vision among the players in this group. He passes ahead to speed up the pace of the game and can execute some advanced reads in pick-and-roll – making well-timed pocket passes to hit the roll man in stride and crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body to the opposite side.

Mannion has also shown to be the most versatile shooter off the ball, as he’s taken three-pointers coming off pindown screens, sprinting to the ball for handoffs and relocating around the perimeter after a passing sequence that started with him breaking down the defense off the dribble.

He has a low release but due to a quick trigger, compact mechanics and an ability to get great elevation off the ground, Mannion can get his shot off prior to and over closeouts consistently.

On the ball, he is deadly stepping into three-pointers against defenders getting stuck on the ball-screen in pick-and-roll and was successful creating separation one-on-one to rise in balance via step-backs, hang dribbles and jab-steps.

Mannion did fine getting to the basket in high school, going up off two feet with power a fair amount, adjusting his body in the air on double clutch finishes and even finishing through contact from time-to-time but his inability to shake off Scottie Lewis in the McDonald’s All American Game and the Nike Hoop Summit suggests his interior scoring will need to be a little more reliant on craft as he moves up through the levels of competition.

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

Cade Cunningham Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Cade Cunningham played a key role in the United States’ championship campaign at the U19 World Championships in Crete, matching up against competition on average over a year older than him.

The six-foot-seven lead guard is regarded as a potential top pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and his performance in Greece added to the interest.

On the surface, Cunningham wasn’t all that impressive: he didn’t get to run the offense on a regular basis due to the presences of Tyrese Haliburton and Jalen Suggs and struggled as a scorer for the most part.

But the Montverde Academy point guard carried his weight on offense by acting as a connective tissue operating off a live dribble and added a lot of value on defense by maximizing his versatility in terms of guarding different types of players, switching on the fly and flying around to create events.

There are rumors that Cunningham might reclassify and enter college this summer already. If so, he’s expected to enroll at Oklahoma State, where his brother was hired to the coaching staff a couple of months ago.

There is still plenty of room for him to develop in terms of physical profile and athletic ability, but Cunningham certainly seems ready to play at the collegiate level. In fact, if the 17-year-old[1] was coming through the European system, I’m pretty sure he’d already be logging most of his minutes among the pros, given what he’s already shown in terms of court vision, skill level and ability to execute the scheme on both ends, on or off the ball.

DEFENSE

With Suggs and Haliburton heating up opposing ball handlers, Cunningham was asked to guard opposing wings more often than not, but he was active switching on the fly and found himself guarding smaller or bigger players from time-to-time.

The Arlington native bends his knees to get down in a stance and has several fluid lateral slides in him to stay in front out on an island.

He mostly went under picks at the point of attack but impressed with his quickness beating the ball handler to the spot on the other side.

Cunningham exceled at hustling in pursuit after going over the pick as well and leveraged his length to block shots from behind. Though not notorious for his explosive leaping ability, he showed flashes of quick one-foot leaps to block a shot on the ball in transition. His average of 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes ranked sixth in the World Championships among players not listed as power forward or center[2].

While picking up bigger players, Cunningham still struggled to hold his ground in the post due to his lack of general physicality but showed tenacity by trying to bat away post entries.

Away from the ball, he proved himself capable of running the shooter off the line on hard closeouts and staying balance to defend off the bounce. Cunningham was vocal communicating switches, helped clog driving lanes, jumped passing lanes, rotated to take away baseline paths to the rim when he was the closest defender to the basket, helped the helper with boxouts and was aggressive going for the ball when asked to double the post – averaging 2.4 steals per 40 minutes.

OFFENSE

He shot poorly and finished poorly in this event.

Cunningham rises in somewhat odd balance on catch-and-shoot opportunities, but his release looks fluid enough and he certainly has the natural touch of a more capable shooter than he showed to be in Crete – converting 15 of his 20 free throws. Nonetheless, what goes on the record is that he missed 13 of his 14 three-point attempts, which led to the fourth worst offensive rating on the team.

He didn’t do too well inside the arc either, shooting just 47.7% on 67 two-pointers while lacking explosiveness elevating off one foot in traffic to attack the rim with any sort of power in the half-court against this level of competition, except on two-foot leaps with time and space to load up. Cunningham was only so-so at finishing through contact as well and generally struggled to score with a rim protector parked between him and the basket in this event.

He hit a stop-and-pop pull-up jumper in pick-and-roll but his saving grace as a scorer was his floater package, which I had already highlighted as a killer strength after a look of his performance with Montverde Academy. Cunningham is quite prolific at launching teardrops from the in-between area off a spin move, a hard jump-stop and 1-2 footwork in dribble penetration.

If he can develop his finishing ability and his overall shooting, Cunningham profiles as a potential superstar because he’s already shown to be quite skilled at creating scoring opportunities for himself and others.

He doesn’t have a quick first step but showed a good deal of side-to-side shake against this level of competition – mixing in hesitation moves, in-and-out dribbles, crossovers and high steps through traffic to get by his man one-on-one or manipulate him into the screen in pick-and-roll.

His passing translated against an older age group as well, as Cunningham recorded 40 assists and just 14 turnovers in 164 minutes – assisting on 31.5% of the United States’ scores when he was on the floor, while showcasing his versatility on passes over the top in side pick-and-roll, crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body in middle pick-and-roll, bullet passes in transition, extra passes around the horn to keep the offense humming and touch passes off cuts.

To boot, he finished some lobs in transition and pitched in with nine offensive rebounds in seven appearances.


[1] DOB: 9/25/2001

[2] According to RealGM

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

Cade Cunningham Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Cade Cunningham is currently ranked second on the 2020 high school class[1].

The six-foot-seven lead guard has emerged as a prospect of interest heading into his senior season due to his combination of height and style of play.

Cunningham runs offense for Montverde Academy as the primary ball handler pushing the ball up the court in transition, getting actions triggered in the half-court and running middle pick-and-roll late in the shot clock[2].

He has impressed with his court vision and the timing, touch and accuracy of his deliveries on the move. The 17-year-old[3] is more often than not the biggest guard on the court in every single game he plays in high school, but the versatility of his passing is what catches your attention, not simply his ability to pass over the top.

On the other end, Cunningham is often asked to pick up smaller players at the point of attack and puts in the commitment to leverage his size advantage at that level, though his lack of superior quickness exposes him some out in space.

The Arlington native is a part of the United States squad at the U19 FIBA World Championships in Crete, going against players on average a year older than him, which will be good to evaluate to which extend the uniqueness of his overall profile holds up in a more demanding environment.

PASSING

Cunningham is naturally inclined to speed up the pace of the game. He is not a dynamo who looks to push the ball up the court off makes all the time but can generate instant offense off misses on long outlets, passing ahead to trigger transition or running the fast-break himself at a speed conducive to allowing his teammates to fill the lanes.

Cunningham has shown to be a very creative passer in the open floor, capable of delivering hook passes to the corner, shovel passes to the wing, no-look passes with a numbers advantage and tossing up lobs with perfect timing.

The Texan is as versatile a passer in the half-court. His first step is not impressively quick, but Cunningham can get by most defenders at the high school level in isolation against a set defense and out of ball reversals. He is savvy leveraging his size to get defenders on his back, engages the last line of defense prior to drop-offs to the dunker spot and has very good court vision delivering kickouts to the opposite corner over the top.

Monteverde doesn’t run a ton of pick-and-roll but does set him a fair number of ball-screens and the teenager excelled creating for others off those as well. He has an in-and-out dribble to manipulate the on-ball defender into the pick and can play with pace waiting for the defense to react against the two-man game.

Cunningham can hit the roll man with hook passes over the top, well-timed pocket passes or lobs tossed up on the move and find weakside shooters on hammer passes off deep dribble penetration or hook passes against the momentum of his body.

He is a ball mover off the ball too, consistently making the extra pass around the horn in an attempt to create open looks against a scrambling defense.

SCORING

Cunningham is not impressively quick with the ball but has developed a few resources to act as a scoring threat off the bounce.

He deploys light hesitation moves to turn the corner in pick-and-roll and can pivot into a well-coordinated spin move in isolation to get into the lane, though his high dribble makes him prone to getting the ball stripped of him in traffic.

Cunningham has flashed some power elevating off one foot in transition but doesn’t generally play with that level of explosiveness in the half-court. He can hang or adjust his body in the air against rim protectors parked between him and the basket and has a 212-pound frame[4] to absorb contact at the high school level but hasn’t yet shown much in terms of using his left hand or leveraging his six-foot-11 wingspan with extended and reverse finishes.

The versatility of his scoring ability from the in-between area isn’t as questionable, though. Cunningham has shown floaters off 1-2 footwork, euro-steps, jump-stops and on the run. He is also a capable shot maker off the bounce, stepping through to create separation for straight-up jumpers in balance, crossing over into his pull-up or going behind the back into his pull-up.

Cunningham has a projectable stroke on catch-and-shoot opportunities, catching the ball on the hop with compact mechanics. He gets little elevation off the ground and has a low release out in front but tends to get a good arc on his shot.

DEFENSE

Cunningham was often asked to pick up opposing point guards and is a capable-to-good point of attack defender at the high school level.

He bends his knees to get down in a stance and can generally keep pace with smaller players out in space. Cunningham gets beat on the first step by speedsters but has long strides to stay attached in recovery and uses his length not just to bother or discourage shots or passes from behind but also block shots defending on the ball.

He can slide laterally fluidly to stay in front of less special types, chests up to contain dribble penetration through contact and puts in the effort to contest pull-ups. Cunningham also leverages his six-foot-11 wingspan to envelope these smaller players and go for strips of the ball reaching in.

He works to navigate over picks in the pick-and-roll, though his ability to get skinny and beat the ball-handler to the spot is probably not going to hold up against better set screens at higher levels. Nonetheless, Cunningham hustles in pursuit to bother or discourage shots or passes from behind, though he is also prone to biting on shot fakes and exposing himself to foul calls.

Cunningham impressed with his commitment away from the ball. He is attentive to his responsibilities rotating inside to pick up the roll man, leverages his athletic advantage at the high school level to block some shots in help defense and executes stunts to clog driving lanes, though his lack of superior quickness shows in his inability to run the shooter off his shot on closeouts.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] In games with a shot clock, which incredibly enough still aren’t all of them

[3] DOB: 9/25/2001

[4] According to nbadraft.net

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

Ja Morant Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

Morant is the best shot creator in this draft class.

The six-foot-three ball handler has a very advanced set of skills to generate offense on an every-possession basis in transition, pick-and-roll and isolation.

He has a very tight handle, an explosive first step to blow by his man on speed and a ton of shiftiness to shake his defender side-to-side out in space or manipulate him into the ball screen in the two-man game.

Morant can split double teams at the point of attack, snake the pick-and-roll, unleash in-and-out dribbles and go between the legs in the blink of an eye get into the lane at will – taking 53.1% of his live-ball attempts at the rim[1] and earning nine foul shots per 40 minutes last season.

The 19-year-old[2] is an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic and doesn’t shy away from contact. Despite his lean 170-pound frame[3], Morant has shown some ability to finish through contact. He’s also a resourceful finisher in a crowd, showcasing a versatile bag of tricks to score among the trees; right-handed scoop finishes, reverses, wrong foot finishes – converting 61% of his 282 attempts at the rim, at a pace of 5.7 such makes per 40 minutes.

His best work is done as a passer, though. Morant can play with pace in the pick-and-roll waiting for slower developing passing lanes to come open and deliver crosscourt passes to the opposite end against the momentum off his body – assisting on 51.8% of Murray State’s scores when he was on the floor last season[4].

TABLE 1 – TOP FIVE PLAYERS IN ASSIST PERCENTAGE IN 2018-2019, AMONG PLAYERS RANKED ON ESPN’S TOP 100
ESPN RANK PROSPECT TEAM AST AST/TO AST/40 AST%
2 Ja Morant Murray State 331 1,9 11 51,8
87 Jaylen Hands UCLA 201 1,9 7,8 36,5
48 Tremont Waters LSU 192 1,7 7,2 33,5
76 Justin James Wyoming 141 1,1 4,6 33,0
25 Ty Jerome Virginia 202 3,3 6,4 32,5
Source: our stats’ database

That said, it’s worth mentioning his risk-taking approach, often looking to squeeze jaw-dropping passes into tight windows, has a cost, as Morant averaged 5.6 turnovers per 40 minutes in 2018-2019.

The Dalzell, South Carolina native is not as much of a killer outside the lane. Morant has flashed the ability to hit the occasional step-back pull-up in isolation and hit enough wide-open dribble-in pull-up three-pointers in pick-and-roll to discourage opponents from going under picks every time but hasn’t yet developed a stop-and-pop pull-up rising in traffic from midrange or a floater to score over length from the in-between area.

Morant has shown to be a capable floor spacer at this point of his development – nailing 36.3% of his 157 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 5.2 attempts per 40 minutes.

He has a low release out in front, getting little elevation off the ground to boot. But his 81.2% foul shooting on 272 free throws suggests he has the touch for his outside shooting ability to translate on spot-ups eventually.

Morant was an uneven defender this past year.

When fully locked in, he can bend his knees to get down in a stance and has as many lateral slides in him as needed to stay in front one-on-one. He is unable to contain penetration due to his thin frame but put in the effort to contest shots.

As a weak-side defender, Morant can leverage his instincts and quickness to make plays in the passing lanes and getting his hands in the driving lanes – averaging 1.9 steals per 40 minutes.

However, it was more common to find him too spaced out, flat footed off the ball, crashing into screens at the point of attack and not hustling in pursuit to bother from behind or running shooters off the line on closeouts.


[1] According to hoop-math

[2] DOB: 8/10/1999

[3] According to Draft Express

[4] According to RealGM

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

Ty Jerome Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Ty Jerome was the 46th-ranked prospect in the 2016 high school class[1].

In three years at Virginia, he appeared in 105 games and accumulated 2,775 minutes of NCAA experience.

Most recently, the six-foot-five combo guard averaged 16 points per 40 minutes on 55.5% true shooting and recorded a 21.9 PER in 37 appearances[2] as a key cog on the team that just won the national championship by beating Texas Tech in overtime.

Jerome operated as a lead guard most of the time, generally triggering Virginia’s motion offense but also operating in middle pick-and-roll out of ball reversals or off a live dribble quite a bit. He also showed his versatility by moving off the ball to space the floor and work off screens with the diminutive Kihei Clark in the lineup.

On the other end, the New York native lacks the athletic ability and the physicality to play high end individual defense on the ball but has proven he can execute the scheme as a weak-side defender by clogging driving lanes and using his instincts to make plays in the passing lanes.

ESPN ranks him 25th in its top 100.

ON BALL OFFENSE

Jerome is a very resourceful player operating off the dribble.

He doesn’t have an explosive first step and lacks side-to-side quickness to shake his defender off balance in isolation but uses hesitation moves, shot fakes and step-throughs to get his man out of position in order to get by him or create separation for pull-ups.

The 21-year-old[3] can’t blow by anyone on speed, but he is able to maintain his balance through contact to get all the way to the basket on a few instances, though they are few and far between – as he took just 18.8% of his shots at the rim[4] and averaged just 2.9 foul shots per 40 minutes last season.

Jerome can’t go up with power off one foot off dribble penetration and lacks length for extended finishes but has developed an array of moves as a below the rim finisher among the trees.

He has a running floater to score over length from the in-between, can unleash an euro-step to weave his way through traffic and go up off the wrong foot to neutralize the last line of defense stepping up to the front of the rim.

The Iona Prep product can’t hang in the air and doesn’t go up with enough force to finish through contract often but is capable of negotiating his way around rim protectors on scoop finishes and finger-roll layups, besides basic speed layups with his off left hand – converting 62.3% of his 77 attempts at the rim last season.

He’s proven to be even savvier creating space to rise up in balance and put up credible attempts from midrange in isolation, showing impressive body control on jumpers off step-backs, crossovers and pull-backs – hitting his 134 two-point shots away from the basket at a 38.1% clip, at a pace of 1.6 such makes per 40 minutes.

Some of those makes materialized on post-ups, as Jerome has shown the ability to take smaller guards into the low block, mostly to attempt facilitating offense from there but also flashing a hiked leg turnaround fadeaway jumper from time-to-time.

His best work on the ball is as a pick-and-roll ball handler, though. Jerome isn’t very decisive trying to turn the corner and his handle is only OK, but he is a threat to score on stop-and-pop pull-ups, which forces opponents to go over picks consistently and helps him get to the foul line area.

From there, Jerome can see over the top of the defense and has proven himself able to deliver crosscourt passes to the opposite end, even with his left hand against the momentum of his body – assisting on 32.5% of Virginia’s scores when he was on the floor and posting a 3.31 assist-to-turnover ratio last season. He often keeps his dribble alive if a passing lane isn’t immediately available and does a good job of probing around the lane to try destabilizing a scrambling defense as well.

TABLE 1- TOP FIVE PLAYERS IN ASSIST-TO-TURNOVER RATIO IN 2018-2019, AMONG PLAYERS RANKED ON ESPN’S TOP 100
ESPN RANK PLAYER TEAM MIN TOV AST AST/TO AST%
25 Ty Jerome Virginia 1257 61 202 3,31 32,5
56 Jordan Bone Tennessee 1219 74 215 2,91 30,3
67 Cody Martin Nevada 1171 64 167 2,61 25,9
46 Shamorie Ponds Saint John’s 1159 65 169 2,60 29,3
61 Jared Harper Auburn 1317 95 230 2,42 32,3
Source: RealGM

OFF BALL OFFENSE

Jerome is a very effective player off the ball as well. He is not only a threat to make long-range attempts on spot-ups but has also shown enough versatility in his release to work sprinting off pindown screens and relocating around the wing off ball movement sequences that start with a pass of his.

Jerome has a bit of a low release out in front but goes through compact mechanics for a quick trigger and gets decent elevation to get his shot off comfortably – nailing 39.9% of his 198 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 6.3 such attempts per 40 minutes.

He’s also shown his intelligence by doing little things such as act as an active weak-side screener, relocating to give his teammates a passing lane when they were trapped and consistently making the extra pass around the horn.

DEFENSE

Jerome bends his knees to get down in a stance and has a couple of lateral slides in him to stay in front of slow opponents who can’t change directions but lacks quickness to pick up shiftier types and strength in his weak 194-pound frame[5] in the context of his height to chest up bigger wings in isolation or hold position against them in the post. His contests on closeouts or pull-ups also tend to be ineffective due to his unimposing eight-foot-two standing reach.

He manages to contribute a little bit by executing the scheme, though.

Jerome is attentive to his responsibilities rotating in to pick up the roll man and stopping the ball in help defense by taking away the baseline on the side of the floor when he is close by.

Despite his six-foot-four wingspan, Jerome can create turnovers in volume by getting his hands in driving lanes and using his instincts to get into passing lanes – averaging 1.8 steals per 40 minutes last season.

That said, he is not any sort of a threat to block shots and isn’t athletic enough to help with rebounding, though he pitches in some in the hidden areas of the game by helping crowd the area near the basket well and attempting to boxout whoever is close by.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to RealGM

[3] DOB: 7/7/1997

[4] According to hoop-math

[5] According to nba.com/stats/

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