With the NBA draft fast approaching, we wrap up the combine coverage with several shooting performances. This draft is rich in shooting depth with many interesting names headlining the post-lottery range. So here are a few names to keep an eye on next week!

GUARDS

Cassius Winston

Key Combine Stats

  • 71% on three-point endurance drill

Takeaways

Scouts appear very high on Cassius Winston and there has been some recent first-round buzz circulating. This shooting performance will help. His athletic limitations are significant and will likely keep him off the top 30. But Winston is one of the smartest and most polished guards in the draft. A big reason for the projection is the shooting. Winston scored 1.27 points per spot-up possession (per Synergy). That was good for an impressive 97th percentile last season.

Winston’s ceiling is likely capped as a back-up combo guard who can space the floor and manage a second unit. His vision and ability to navigate screens will be a big source of shot creation. But teams will target him on the defensive end. The foot quickness is just not there to match-up against NBA speed. It is going to take coaching angles and a high IQ for Winston to overcome some of his deficiencies there. I have faith that he can and will turn into an above replacement level player.  

Immanuel Quickley 

Key Combine Stats

  • 76% on three-point endurance drill 
  • 75% on 20 spot-up threes off movement

Takeaways

Immanuel Quickley is a guy who you see vary drastically among draft boards. Some view him as a top 20 talent while others are less enthusiastic about his potential. I am very bullish on his shot, and these numbers are a very good indicator. A starting point is to eliminate all the contested stuff he floats near the basket (or in the mid-range). Quickley shot an abysmal 40% from the two-point range at Kentucky. Much of it is a result of Quickley’s over-confidence as a shot-maker. Slowing his game down will be key. Quickley must improve as a passer to turn these contested looks into other forms of shot-making opportunities. 

Awareness issues aside, Quickley brings significant potential off the catch. Last season he hit on 42% of his three-point attempts. Approximately 37% of his opportunities came as a spot-up threat, where he compiled an impressive 1.08 points per spot-up possession (84th percentile). My ceiling for Quickley is as a tertiary scorer on a title contender. That is significant, and it warrants a grade in the 20-30 range. 

Markus Howard

Key Combine Stats

  • 65% on 20 spot-up threes off movement

Takeaways

There may be no more fun guy to watch than Markus Howard. Howard comes into the draft as the career points leader in the Big East. Three seasons of shooting over 40% on 200+ attempts is a major accomplishment. I do not doubt that Howard can excel as a floor-spacing guard. He has an electric dribble and can split a pick and roll with relative ease. Markus Howard is the guy if the plan is to be bad and score a lot of points next season. 

But here is the thing. At 5’11” with a 6’0″ wingspan things get very complicated. Howard will have to prove that he is capable to get his shot off at the next level. His quick release should help, but projecting him as a similar pull-up threat in the NBA is a stretch. I am also concerned about his decision-making process. Howard has a mind to score and looked slow when teams turned him into a passer. It is going to take transcending shot-making for Howard to earn minutes. I do not see that in a league where speed and size are elevated across all positions. 

Karim Mane

Key Combine Stats

  • 94% on 100 free-throw attempts

Takeaways

Karim Mane has NBA-type make-up. The combination of size and athleticism pops off the film. The Senegalese native debut for Team Canada in the U-19 FIBA World Championships. While the results were a mixed bag, he had his moments, including a 23 point game against Australia. Mane finished the tournament averaging 11.7 points on 50% shooting from the line. So this combine is very encouraging.

Mane is a crafty ball-handler with great defensive tools. I like his potential as a three-level scorer and a future 3&D wing. He should thrive in a system that prioritizes transition opportunities. The shot is very deliberate, and you can see Mane struggle with the increased speed of play. Any team committed to G-League player development should have Mane on its radar. The defensive potential is there, but it is going to take time for the rest of his game (and body) to come around.

WINGS

Jordan Nwora

Key Combine Stats

  • 78% on three-point endurance drill
  • 82% on spot-up threes

Takeaways

This is a fantastic shooting display by Jordan Nwora. The well-known sniper has quick shooting mechanics and did significant damage off the catch at Louisville. Per Synergy, Nwora finished the season in the 94th percentile among all spot-up shooters. The combine validates his floor spacing potential and should nudge Nwora to the top of the second round.

His lack of athleticism is a point of concern moving forward. He is too slow and stiff to make an impact defensively. On the other end, he provides limited value as a three-level scorer. Nwora is not a shot creator, and his ability to finish at the rim (or get to the free-throw line) is hampered. Nwora’s future lies as a floor-spacing wing who can shoot off movement and attract defenders. He is a high IQ player who will leverage this attention and find open teammates. 

Skylar Mays

Key Combine Stats

  • 70% on three-point endurance drill
  • 76% on spot-up threes

Takeaways

A solid shooting display for Mays. I am a fan of his potential as a spot-up player. The release looks clean and he has a tremendous feel for where to re-locate on the court. Mays saw his three-point efficiency sky-rocket to 39% in his final year at LSU. The shot should translate, and he also brings a bit of value operating from the pick and roll. 

There is a lot to like about Skylar Mays beyond the shot. Mays is another high IQ player with great defensive fundamentals. His lack of burst will limit his defensive potential. But Mays is savvy enough to play passing lanes and shuffle his feet without fouling. I also see the potential for Mays as an above-average cutter. He is not long but is strong enough to finish thru contact. Mays is a bonified mid-second round talent and should provide some low-end minutes next season. 

Lamar Stevens

Key Combine Stats

  • 41″ max vertical
  • 10.35s on lane agility drill

Takeaways

These are phenomenal testing scores for Stevens. His NBA path will be as a guy who adds lineup versatility. The lane agility score is a strong indicator of a player who can defend dribble penetration. That is significant. Stevens was the main reason for Penn State’s rise over the last four seasons. The Philadelphia native collected an array of awards, including the NIT’s most valuable player and two first-team All-Big Ten honors.

Stevens is a swiss army knife and is strong enough to project into a stretch big role. For that, the shot must come around. He was highly inconsistent at Penn State, but the mechanics are sound. Cleaning up his shot selection is key. But Stevens adds value as a passer and someone who attacks the rim off the dribble. In a league that prioritizes small lineups, Stevens is a name that should be on anyone’s radar.

Robert Woodard

Key Combine Stats

  • 74% on spot-up threes

Takeaways

Woodard is another one of these versatile wings who struggled with shooting consistency at Mississippi State. His shot chart was all over the map, but he found some cohesion spotting up from the top of the key. The dilemma is if you believe the improvements are sustainable. Woodard is a subpar 61% career free-throw shooter. These combine results are ok, but Woodard also shot 65% on 20 spot-up threes off movement (well below some of his combine partners).

Woodard does stand out from the rest as an athlete. At 6’7″ with a 7’1″ wingspan he brings tremendous defensive upside. Woodard’s size is suffocating for guards. His explosiveness projects very well as an off-ball defender and complementary scorer. Woodard is a sure top-20 pick in a world where the shot is not a concern. But that is not the case. His draft range will likely fall towards the back end of the first round (or early second).

Naji Marshall

Key Combine Stats

  • 7’0.25″ wingspan
  • 2.90s shuttle

Takeaways

Naji Marshall’s game has the modern NBA written all over it. What can this 6’7″ forward not do? Yes, Marshall is not a polished shooter. But look beyond the jump shot and you will see a guy capable of doing A LOT on the basketball court. Marshall is a springy athlete with an advanced handle and shot creation ability. Here is where I love his potential. You can run a spread pick and roll with Marshall and have him attack the mismatch off the dribble. Marshall’s supreme passing vision is also ideal off of those sets (or in transition).

So what keeps Marshall from entering the first-round discussion? Well, the shot is yet to translate. Marshall finished the season in the 56th percentile in spot-up shooting. He often played fast and out of control with the liberty to do too much at Xavier. That manifested into poor shots and a high number of turnovers. Getting Marshall under a sound offensive system will unlock more efficiency from his game. I am intrigued by the fit in Toronto. The Raptors have late first-round draft capital to strike. Marshall gives them an ideal developmental project who can pay big dividends in a few years. 

BIGS

Udoka Azubuike

Key Combine Stats

  • 7’7.25″ wingspan 
  • 37″ max vertical 

Takeaways

Azubuike has elite size and length. At a 7’7.25″ he is a massive target for lobs at the basket. Azubuike scored in the 100th percentile near the rim (per Synergy). He is going to live in the paint and leave his mark on the offensive glass. Just to give you an idea of his efficiency, Azubuike’s career 74% eFG percentage is the highest ever recorded. 

But the NBA will pose different challenges. Azubuike will find it much harder to do his damage in the post. I am not very high on his potential to do anything else other than dunk the ball (or put back misses). There is little in his game that points to some form of shooting progression. He is an abysmal free-throw shooter. But there is no denying the threat in the pick and roll. This should warrant him a look towards the back of the second round (or in the undrafted free agency market). 

Yoeli Childs

Key Combine Stats

  • 38.5″ max vertical 

Takeaways

Childs appears to be a high pre-draft attraction among many NBA teams. His game film will tell you why quickly. Childs was the anchor behind BYU’s success, including a major upset victory over Gonzaga last season. His growth year over year was predicated on his impact near the rim. Childs possesses great hands and touch around the basket. His superb footwork is another sign of a polished back to the basket player.

The big question mark is centered on his potential to stretch the floor. Childs finished last season shooting 48% from three-point range. If this is legitimate remains to be seen. His volume from deep is low and his shooting mechanics are wildly inconsistent. Childs will provide little value as a rim protector, although a 38.5″ vertical indicates there is more potential to unlock. Among the many second-round options for bigs, Childs is arguably the safest one.