SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER 2018 NBA Draft Scouting Report
WEIGHT: 180 POUNDS
POSITION: POINT GUARD
PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: MID FIRST ROUND PICK
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wasn’t one of the super blue-chip prospects destined for the NBA Draft lottery that John Calipari usually collects at the University of Kentucky. But the freshman guard from Hamilton, Ontario (in Canada) might be yet another one of Calipari’s players to go in the first round of the draft.
At crunchtime, Kentucky was at their best when Gilgeous-Alexander was the ballhandler, and if the offense stalled — which it has been prone to do this season for the Wildcats — then the team has relied on Gilgeous-Alexander slashing to the basket and trying to make a last-second p.ay, especially given his ability to finish around the rim with either hand.
Gilgeous-Alexander has shown the ability to knock down the open jumper, either by creating his own shot or shooting it off the catch, but neither are quite as consistent as you’d like. But when he puts the ball on the floor and breaks down a defense, that’s where he excels. With the ball in his hands, he’s shown the moves and footwork to get by defenders and attack the basket in isolation situations, catch-and-go’s off ball reversals, and dribble hand-offs.
He has the initial quickness to get right into the heart of the defense, but also understand how to change up his speeds and wait for lanes to open up for himself, or shooters to get in position for a kick-out pass.
The big question around him is his shooting. Through the first 15 games of 2018, Gilgeous-Alexander has shot 30% from behind the three-point line, converting only six of 20 three-point attempts. While his shot is far from broken, his form is a bit too mechanical and slow-developing. It’s fixable, but it will take effort.
Conversely, Gilgeous-Alexander will make his career in the NBA because of the skills and polish he demonstrates on defense. That’s how he originally got the playing time in the Kentucky lineup, after originally being projected as a reserve player.
When he’s guarding a ball-handler, he has cat-like lateral quickness, keeping his knees bent so that he can slide and stay in front of his man. He’s a tremendous pick-and-roll defender, understanding how to properly defend in those situations without leaving a teammate high and dry. Because of his height and his length, he can switch onto multiple positions, clog passing lanes, force opponents to alter their shots, and even clean the glass defensively off missed shots.
It might be tempting to look at Gilgeous-Alexander and imagine him as a textbook “3-and-D” wing player that would thrive in today’s spread-out NBA game. The problem is, he’s not really a wing, and he lacks the “3” part. Instead, it’s better to think of him as someone like a taller (and less enigmatic) Rajon Rondo: a play-making guard who can facilitate the offense even when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, play tenacious defense, utilize his basketball IQ on the floor, but will need to work diligently on his jumpshot,
In the end, while it’s possible Gilgeous-Alexander could find himself being taken in the mid-teens, he’s likely going to be taken somewhere in the high-teens to low-20’s because of his ability to make plays on both ends of the floor.
BELOW ARE HIGHLIGHTS OF SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER
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