After a successful trial in the All-Star Game, should the NBA adopt the Elam Ending in more meaningful games?

This 6’3 sophomore is lightning quick and is one of the best guards in the NBA Draft. How does Kira Lewis project at the next level? How would he fit with the Philadelphia 76ers? Here we go.

OVERVIEW

Kira Lewis was a four-star recruit from Hazel Green, Alabama. According to 247 Sports, he was the 5th best point guard in the nation and received offers from Auburn, Baylor and Connecticut. The biggest knock on Kira Lewis was his size, weighing in at only 160 pounds. In August 2018, he reclassified for the 2018 class and signed with the Crimson Tide in order to follow the footsteps of recent Alabama star Collin Sexton.

Despite being the youngest active player in all of D-1 basketball (17 years old), Kira Lewis made an immediate impact his freshman season. He started all 34 games, scored in double figures 24 of 31 games and averaged 17 points per 40 minutes. Although Alabama finished with an 18-16 record, his phenomenal season got him SEC All-Freshman honors.

Pure speed…

Kira Lewis showcased his elite speed in the open court during his sophomore season. His 18.5 points and 5.2 assists per game garnered him All-SEC First Team. Lewis scored the 5th most points in the SEC along with the 3rd most assists. He had 3 games of scoring 30 or more points and 9 games of 3 or more three-pointers made. It’s important to note that Kira Lewis just turned 19 years old this month and is younger than most one-and-done prospects in his draft class.

STRENGTHS

  • A terror in the open court: First and foremost, Kira Lewis has elite speed with the ball in his hands and is a nightmare in the transition. He’s got excellent quickness and acceleration to abuse and put pressure on a defense in an up-tempo offense or in a half court set. This is a guy who can fly down the floor in less than 5 seconds. According to The Stepien, 21% of his offense came in transition where he scored 1.17 points per possession. Lewis is a potential 3 level scorer who loves to play downhill and can finish with either hand with ease at the rim.
  • Phenomenal handle & penetrator: Kira Lewis thrives at penetrating the paint and attacking the basket. Lewis’ combination of good handle, IQ and ability to get to the basket makes him a potential weapon in the pick and roll, modern NBA. He’s got a solid floater that should be a weapon at the next level. The majority of his offense came from making one move and getting to the basket at will. Kira Lewis’ skillset should thrive in the NBA when there is more space to operate. According to The Stepien, 30.8% of his offense came in the pick and roll where he shot 41.8% from the floor (56/134).
  • Very good shooter: Kira Lewis can pull up from anywhere on the court and does well in the catch and shoot. According to The Stepien, he shot 43.5% from the floor (37/85) during spot up opportunities. In two seasons at Alabama, Lewis shot 36.2% from 3 in 304 attempts. The Stepien reports that he shot 16/42 (38%) on three pointers in the pick and roll. He had a true shooting percentage of 56% and shot 80.2% from the free throw line on 4.2 attempts per game. It’s Lewis’ combination of speed and ability to space the floor that makes him such a unique prospect and potential big-time scorer at the next level.

WEAKNESSES

  • Way too many turnovers: Kira Lewis 11th highest usage rate in the SEC (24.3) and forced way too many passes as a sophomore. When you consider his usage rate and inexperience, (18 years old at the time), it’s easily understandable. How do you knock an 18-year-old for his decision making when leading an offense?
  • Potential on defense is questionable: While he can generate steals and provide solid team defense, his size at 165 pounds and below average wingspan will limit his defensive potential and ultimate effectiveness at the next level. This lack of size will limit his ability to defend multiple positions
  • Lack of experience: Whichever team selects Kira Lewis in the draft must be cognoscente that it’s going to take time for Lewis to develop. This is a very raw prospect with little size that is going to struggle against the physicality and rigors of the NBA game. Lewis will need 1-2 years of seasoning to facilitate and defend the pick and roll at the next level.

FILM HIGHLIGHT

Kira Lewis is a blur getting into the paint and getting to the rim. If defenders are slow to rotate, Kira Lewis can quickly make the defense pay. We saw Ben Simmons make strides with this in the pick and roll last season. Having another threat off the bench who can provide this much pressure on a defense would be a huge benefit for the Sixers offense.

Another example of Kira Lewis’ speed with the ball. The Sixers are at their best when they continuously push the tempo, create points off turnovers and run. Personally, I’d like to see the Sixers go smaller next year. The Sixers were 11th in fast break points per game last season (14.1 points per game). That number needs to be higher and Kira Lewis would provide a huge boost in this area.

This is a great example of how good Kira Lewis could potentially be in the modern NBA. He has all the tools to thrive in the pick and roll at the next level. The Sixers lack playmakers and shot creators. Kira Lewis’ strengths here make him an ideal fit in Philadelphia. A Shake Milton and Kira Lewis backcourt off the bench is very intriguing. Both thrive with and without the ball as well as facilitate the offense.

A great example of Kira Lewis’ ability to penetrate into the paint. But most importantly, look at the diverse move set. Lewis has potential to become an efficient player for the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers were in the middle of the NBA in terms of offensive efficiency (17th, 1.07). Kira Lewis is a potential 3-level scorer that can also create for others.

Kira Lewis has a very strong handle that would allow him to be the secondary facilitator off the bench for the Philadelphia 76ers. Lewis loves playing downhill and flies with the ball in his hands. This an area that the Sixers lack. Lewis’ ability to penetrate as well as drive and dish would really help the Sixers’ offense.

POSSIBLE FIT

Before Shake Milton had his incredible two month stretch, I was on #TeamDerrickRose during the NBA trade deadline. The Sixers desperately need a guy who can thrive in the open court with Ben Simmons and put pressure on a defense. The Sixers lacked an offensive punch off the bench and it’s easy to see how Kira Lewis could step right into this role moving forward. Kira Lewis’ speed, shooting and potential in the pick and roll down the road all make him a very good fit with the Philadelphia 76ers.

It’s on the defensive side that has me concerned. During playoff basketball when you’re only as good as your weakest defender, I can envision Kira Lewis repeatedly targeted by teams that are heavy in the pick and roll (Toronto, Boston, etc.). This is a guy that will be switched to death and his inability to switch on the perimeter really deflates Kira Lewis as a prospect. Kira Lewis’ ceiling in the NBA is directly tied with how quickly he adapts to the NBA and how much time he spends in the weight room during these next two years.

One of the youngest players in his draft class…

And then we get to his age. I was very much in favor of the trade that landed Zhaire Smith on the Philadelphia 76ers. Zhaire Smith is developing well with the Delaware Blue Coats, but the Sixers are in win now mode. Similarly, are the Sixers willing to draft a prospect with a high ceiling that will require multiple seasons before his potential is untapped? This is highly suspect as the window for the Sixers win a championship is right now.  

STAT NUGGETS

  • Kira Lewis was an offensive weapon last season, featuring an offensive rating of 112.6 as a sophomore.
  • Despite being 3rd in the SEC in assists (162), Kira Lewis led the conference in turnovers (110).
  • Kira Lewis plays a modern style of basketball where the majority of his shots were at the rim or from beyond the arc.
  • Similar to the majority of his major stats, Kira Lewis increased his win share rating from 3.0 as a freshman to 4.1 as a sophomore.
  • Kira Lewis shockingly struggled finishing around the rim. Per Hoop-Math, Lewis converted 57.9% of his shots at the rim.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Currently, Kira Lewis is projected in the mid to late first round range, which is exactly where the Philadelphia 76ers will be picking. It’s impossible to find a perfect prospect where the Sixers will be drafting. There are just as many concerns as strengths in regards to projecting Kira Lewis at the next level. I’m not comparing Kira Lewis to Ja Morant, but Morant’s phenomenal rookie season certainly makes me feel a little less concerned in regard to Lewis’ potential in the NBA. At 165 pounds, Lewis will require some development in the NBA before his potential is unlocked.

I see Kira Lewis as a top of the rotation player that would benefit greatly from incremental playing time off the bench with the Sixers. I also see Kira Lewis going through a ton of growing pains his first two seasons in the NBA. The Sixers need Lewis’ skillset off the bench, but how long are they willing to wait? Are Sixers fans willing to be patient with allowing Kira Lewis the time required to adapt to the physicality of the NBA?

Would you take Kira Lewis with the 22nd pick?

The Sixers lack playmaking and a guy who can put pressure on a defense. Shake Milton was a revelation before the season was suspended, but his development does not stop me from taking Kira Lewis if he falls to the Sixers in the first round. You never pass on a prospect with such a high ceiling in the low 20s in the draft. Kira Lewis thrives with and without the ball and can space the floor. This makes him a solid fit next to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. He’s an intriguing talent that should be on all Sixers fans radars for pick #22 in the NBA Draft.