I looked at the other mid/late first round wings earlier this week, so now it’s time to dive into the shooting guards. Draft Express has Devin Booker 12th, R.J. Hunter 26th, and Rashad Vaughn 45th while Chad Ford has Booker 13th, Hunter 21st, and Vaughn 23rd. The variance in their rankings suggest there may be a large gap between these players, but I judge them to be pretty similar talent wise.
Age, team role, and competition level vary widely in this group, possibly causing people to have less confidence in their comparisons between them. Hunter shouldered a heavy offensive burden at a low level mid-major Georgia State team, and faced Kenpom’s 161st ranked schedule. Vaughn played with the green light on a dysfunctional and underachieving UNLV team against Kenpom’s 102nd ranked schedule. Booker played almost exclusively off the ball on Kentucky’s loaded team, squaring off verse Kenpom’s 31st ranked schedule.
Agewise, Booker and Vaughn are the two youngest players in the draft. Vaughn is 18.7 years, and Booker most youthful at 18.5. Hunter sits at the older age of 21.5, about average for a rising senior.
|Player||3PA/40 Pace||3P%||2PJ%||Combined J%||FT%|
All three of these guys have reputations as very good shooters, and if they want to succeed in the NBA they’re going to need to be efficient floor spacers for their teams.
Booker has a pure straight up and down shot that he gets off quickly and compactly. He’s not a threat to pull-up from three, but he can comfortably go into smooth looking one or two-dribble midrange pull-ups.
Booker got more open looks than most playing at Kentucky this past year, but as Kentucky’s only threatening outside shooter his looks weren’t as wide open as many make them out to be.
Despite Hunter’s lacking percentages this season, he has retained a reputation as a knockdown shooter. Hunter was the focus of opposing defenses attention, and many of his looks were off-the-dribble, off-the-move, or from very deep. Elite FT% combined with shooting 39.5% from three last year should assuage any potential worries teams have about him not being able to shoot at the NBA level.
Hunter’s percentages still mean something. He’s got a low release out in front of his body so it’s logical that he might need more space than most shooters. The low release point makes it reasonable to suggest he might be a merely good shooter in the NBA, not a deadly one.
Vaughn’s FT% stands out as a bit of a red flag in an otherwise excellent shooting resume. Like Booker, he has a quick and fluid release, and he showed more comfort than Booker shooting from deep and off the dribble.
The FT% worries me a little bit, but considering Vaughn shot a better overall percentage on jumpers than Booker on harder looks it is fair to wonder if Vaughn’s shooting is being slightly underrated.
Vaughn isn’t usually talked about as a similar level shooter to Hunter or Booker, but that narrative seems to be off. Factoring in age, I would rank him just behind Booker, and ahead of Hunter as a shooter going forward.
|Player||AST%||TOV%||FTr||HC RimA/40 Pace||HC Rim FG%|
Booker was mostly a spot-up artist on his Kentucky team, suppressing his free throw rate and rim attempts. When Booker did put the ball on the floor, he usually looked to go into to his dribble pull-up, rather than try and make it all the way to the rim.
It would’ve been interesting to see Booker in a different team situation. He has a mediocre first step but is able to get by defenders because they play up tight on his shot.
He also displays a solid handle, good passing instincts, and pretty advanced coordination and feel finishing around the rim. Being the youngest player in the draft, it is fair to wonder if he will develop a more nuanced off the dribble game as time goes on.
Hunter is a much more advanced creator than Booker at this point. He’s got a tight handle and reads defenses well coming off on and off-ball screens, resulting in his high AST%.
Hunter uses his skinny frame well to exaggerate contact and get to the line, but in general he struggles getting to the rim. Despite an advanced handle, and the respect defenses give his shot, he often had to face a crowded lane, and he lacked the first step or athletic explosion to get to the rim consistently.
Vaughn possesses a similar skillset to Hunter on offense. He’s got a good handle and pretty good moves side to side, but his passing vision is not yet at Hunter’s level.
Vaughn has slightly more bounce to his step than Hunter, which allowed him to get to the rim at such a higher rate. Once he gets there, Vaughn isn’t an elite enough athlete to finish at the rim and instead settles for tough floaters, resulting in his low efficiency at the basket.
Vaughn’s shot selection was often questionable this past year, and it is hard to know if he would accept an off-ball role as willingly as Booker. If he did improve his shot selection Vaughn could be a more dangerous threat attacking closeouts than Booker due to a better handle and slightly better first step.
Hunter has significantly better moves and vision than Booker, but his first step is noticeably slower, so their ability to create as secondary options are pretty similar. Vaughn has the best combination of athleticism and skill of the three of them. Whether or not he can reign in his shot selection will be huge in determining his long-term success as a role player.
|Player||STL%||BLK%||DRB%||DRTG TM RK||DBPM TM RK|
Booker has some of the least impressive defensive stats of any prospect this year. By all statistical measures, he was Kentucky’s worst defender this year.
Watching him he doesn’t seem like an awful defender. His lateral quickness seems pretty above average, and he is a fine defender in isolation.
In all other situations he struggles. He doesn’t do well navigating around screens and gets off balance too easily on closeouts. He doesn’t look like an awful defender, but his atrocious statistics mean my eyes might not have been picking up on something.
Hunter’s defensive stats are misleading. He played almost exclusively in gambling zones this past year, inflating his STL%, BLK%, and DRB%. Still, he uses his long arms well and his good instincts to make all the plays he does.
His quickness on D is subpar, but he uses his length well and showed good instincts for getting over screens the few times he was put in pick actions. His extremely skinny frame will undoubtedly be a problem at the NBA level, his length and instincts can only make up for so much.
The combination of Hunter’s lack of strength and poor quickness suggest a very bad defender, but his length and anticipation give some hope he can be a solid defender in the NBA.
Vaughn has a defensive profile similar to Booker’s, grading out bad in both counting stats and team level ones. Vaughn has poor start stop quickness diving in and out of the paint to help, hampering him on and off the ball.
He often takes long circuitous routes navigating around both on and off-ball screens, and his general awareness seems poor. Vaughn has the athletic profile to be a fine defender, but for now he looks like he is going to really struggle with NBA D.
None of these guys look like they’re going to be even average NBA defenders. From a physical perspective I would rank them Vaughn, Booker, Hunter, but from a instincts perspective I would rank them inversely.
Vaughn and Booker’s youth gives them more of a chance to improve their weakness, but Hunter’s length and instincts also gives him a higher defensive floor.
In my weighted model consensus average Hunter ranks highest at 18th, Booker comes next at 24th, and Vaughn falls all the way to 38th. Subjectively, I move Hunter down and Booker and Vaughn up a bit.
Hunter most obviously benefitted from the zone scheme he was in, and because steals are so important to models he would look signficantly worse if he’d played in a more conservative scheme.
Meanwhile for Vaughn and Booker I believe their defensive numbers somewhat underrate their defensive abilites. Also, Booker’s creation numbers are suppressed by Kentucky’s extreme talent. I still don’t mentally adjust their numbers as much as Hunter.
Numbers are generally lower on these guys than the consensus, and here I side more with the numbers. All of them profile as potentially very bad NBA defenders, and none of them are special enough offensive talents to overcome being crappy defenders. It may well be that whichever of them turns into the best defender becomes the best player.
Like I said, I’m lower on this group than most. Many draft sites having Booker as a late lottery pick strikes me as pretty absurd. He is almost only a spot up shooter on offense, and a very good but not elite one at that. Maybe some people have significantly higher opinions of his defense than me, but his atrocious defensive numbers shouldn’t be overlooked.
I still have Booker highest among this group, but much closer to the other two. His defense shows the most promise of the three, and he’s shown he can succeed as a role player on the offensive end.
Next I actually have Vaughn ahead of Hunter, though I have them right next to each other on my board. Vaughn strikes me as an ever so slightly better offensive prospect and basically dead even on defense once their ages and development are factored in.
In comparison to the other group of wings I have Booker slightly ahead of Anderson, but otherwise the small forwards all ahead of the shooting guards. Defense is a too often overlooked part of draft evaluations, and all these SG’s have huge questions about their ability to play NBA level defense.