LWOS NBA draft analysis continues with Elijah Hughes. Hughes came out of nowhere to be a consistent presence in the Syracuse Orange lineup. He has hit plenty of big shots in his career and has some microwave capabilities.
Elijah Hughes 2020 NBA Draft Profile
Elijah Hughes is a 6’6 forward from Beacon, New York. He started his college career at East Carolina after flying under the radar in high school. He had an average season but drew the attention of the Syracuse staff. Hughes transferred to Syracuse after his freshman season and then began playing for the Orange as a redshirt sophomore.
Hughes averaged 16.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in his two seasons for Syracuse. He had an instant impact and improved each season. Last season, Hughes was the third option on a decent team, but this year he was the primary option on a bad team. All of this culminated in Hughes being named First-Team All-ACC.
Hughes played with the ball in his hands a lot at Syracuse, especially last year. He is a proven go-to scorer and is great with the ball in his hands. His ridiculous athleticism gives him the ability to drive past defenders and finish over them, or rise up and make contested shots. Given Syracuse’s offense or lack thereof, he took plenty of contested jumpers. Being a scorer regardless of where you are on the court is crucial in the NBA. Hughes can bring a scoring presence at each level. In his first season at Syracuse, he was more of a catch and shoot wing, but he evolved into a playmaking wing in year two.
With the losses of key players and a lack of talent at Syracuse this year, Hughes became a primary playmaker. Having the ball in his hands frequently meant he either had to score or create a scoring opportunity for someone else if Syracuse was going to score. His assists per game went from 1.5 to 3.4 and his assist percentage rose to 20.1.
Unfortunately, Hughes did not shoot a high percentage at Syracuse. He shot 34 percent from three for his career on almost seven threes per game. It certainly is not a bad percentage, but he does need to improve it for the NBA. He is more of a volume shooter which means he can be streaky. Hughes certainly had games where he was hot, but also very cold. Before ACC play began, Hughes was shooting well north of 40 percent from three but finished the season at 34 percent.
The other weakness with Hughes is more of an unknown. Obviously, Syracuse plays a 2-3 zone and rarely ever comes out of it. He played well in his space for the most part but is unproven as an individual defender. He has the athleticism and size to be a good defender, but who knows if it will happen.
Finally, Hughes may not get much better. He is already 22 years old and reaching the prime of his career. Obviously, during the draft, teams are drafting for potential and older players get the short end of the stick there.
NBA Player Comparison
Terrence Ross. Hughes won’t win any dunk contests but he can bring an instant scoring punch off the bench and his athleticism will create more than enough highlights. He definitely will have to prove himself to earn a spot on a roster.
NBA Draft Projection
Late 2nd round to Undrafted. Hughes is in a tough spot. If he goes back to school he only gets older and probably won’t improve too much.