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Kevin Huerter – 6’7″, Shooting Guard, University of Maryland, 19 years old
On May 30, Kevin Huerter made a critical decision for his family, his basketball career, and his life. He decided to enter the NBA draft. For a 19-year-old entering his junior year in college, this was a big choice. He would forgo his last two years of eligibility in the NCAA and would join the dozens, even hundreds, of NBA hopefuls in waiting to hear their name called by one of the 30 NBA teams next month.
Huerter has got some things going for him, though. In two seasons at Maryland, he was a solid contributor to his team, especially on the offensive end of the floor. As a freshman, he already received a lot of playing time with nearly 30 minutes per game on his record, while contributing 9.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in this playing time. He bumped all these stats up in his sophomore season, posing 14.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 34.4 minutes of action every night. His improvement in his sophomore season helped convince coaches and the media to vote him All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.
The only question now is: how far will all these statistics and awards in college take him in the next level of basketball?
Shooting is becoming more and more and more important in today’s NBA. If you hope to at least be competent among rookies in your draft class, you better have a great offensive upside, or already have amazing abilities on this end of the floor. Surely, Kevin Huerter fulfills this. In just his freshman season, Huerter already shot 42 percent from the field and 37 perent from deep. He was efficient in contributing to Maryland’s scoring game in and game out and would shoot even better in his second year. He improved his shooting percentage to 50 percent, while also bumping up his shot from beyond the arc to 42 percent. All the while, Huerter shot a greater volume of shots in more minutes on the floor, compared to his freshman year. Scouts have seen him capable of shooting from all areas on the floor, especially in catch-and-shoot situations.
He has more to offer besides his shooting ability, though. Throughout college, Huerter has shown himself capable of distributing the ball to his teammates and is able to move the ball around quite well. This allows his team to get off better shots in better positions instead of settling for forced shots against opposing defenses. For a backcourt player, he is also a pretty decent rebounder. He was able to consistently jostle for nearly five rebounds a night against both opposing guards and big men. This is likely to be attributed to the 6’7″ frame he possesses, quite big for someone playing his position.
While he is a solid offensive threat, Huerter has some flaws on the other end of the floor. The largest factor limiting his upside on the defensive side is his 6’8″ wingspan. Relative to other players entering the draft and in the NBA, this is fairly below average. This affects his present ability to guard opposing players and also lowers his defensive ceiling by a large degree. His lack of upper body strength might also make him a liability on the defensive end, as longer and more athletic players in the NBA will easily get past him when he is guarding.
Another flaw that NBA scouts have seen in Huerter’s game is that he lacks explosiveness, or that effective “first step” off the dribble. Adding this to his short wingspan as well as his lack of strength gives him a severe disadvantage and makes him more of a one-dimensional player. He does not also have good skill in getting to the free-throw line and forcing fouls from defenders, another important ability to have in a league that is seeing more and more physical play each season.
At just 19 years old, Huerter has a lot of time and potential left to improve himself, even through just hard work and dedication. Currently, he is projected to go somewhere in the late first round to the early second round of the draft, with NBADraft.net projecting him to go to the Utah Jazz as the 21st pick, while Sports Illustrated has him to the Los Angeles Lakers with the 47th pick.
No matter how much he develops his abilities on both ends of the court, the fact that Huerter has shown himself to be a capable shooter already sets his floor as a scorer off the bench, someone to give the team’s offense a spark with long-range shooting. While his defensive upside is definitely not that high, this should not stop him from developing into a decent team defender and to be at least capable of not giving opponents an easy time on the floor. We have seen tons of players in the past who have improved defensively in spite of their physical limitations, and if Kevin Huerter becomes one of these in the future, then he will definitely have a spot on an NBA roster.
NBA Player Comparison
Someone in the NBA that immediately comes to mind when the description of a 6’7″ shooting guard who can shoot from deep is Nick Young. In his career, this NBA journeyman has played for the Washington Wizards, the L.A. Clippers, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers, and currently, the Golden State Warriors in his ten seasons in the league.
Young has always shown a lot of potential on offense and continues to prove that today in his game. He is not that star on the team, or even a consistent starter, but his teams know that they can call on Young’s services when they need a boost offensively. He is a capable shooter and is a sure contributor on offense. While he is not a great defender, Young works hard and does all he can to not get lost on defense. If Huerter puts in the work needed, it is not impossible that he carves out a role on an NBA roster similar to what Young has done over the years.
And if your ceiling is a reliable role player on arguably one of the best NBA teams of all time, then you’re in a pretty good spot yourself. Look out for Kevin Huerter on NBA draft day.
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