This year’s draft coverage continues with a highlight on two sharpshooting players expected to be picked in the lottery to mid teens. To catch up on the previous prospects, just peruse through the pieces here:
I think many draft observers would be surprised if Gradey Dick fell past the 10th pick, but I still think it’s important to highlight him as one of the top players in the class. We’ve seen really good prospects drop well past their expected range before, so it’s good to have an idea as to what kind of player he is just in case the Raptors get lucky and his name still hasn’t been called yet by the time they’re on the clock.
Jordan Hawkins, on the other hand, has been mocked anywhere from the 10th pick to the early 20’s, so his range is a bit more unpredictable. The sophomore guard from UConn racked up several accolades during their championship run last season, including All-Big East , All-Region, All-Tourney team selections. He’ll be an instant contributor, but what does his overall game and long term upside look like?
Let’s find out.
Gradey Dick – G/F, Kansas
Simply put, one of the most beautiful jumpshots I’ve ever seen. Quick release, high above his head which already reaches up to 6’8, fluid, and no mechanical issues to speak of. He can shoot over almost anybody.
No dips, the ball hits his hands and it’s on the way up. He’s the best shooter in the class, both in my own eyes and according to several NBA teams.
Gradey shot 38% on 172 catch-and-shoot attempts.
Even if a lot of his makes came off the catch, Gradey is one of the more impressive shooters off the dribble in the entire class, making 46.1% of his shots in that department, albeit on lower volume.
He won’t just plant himself in the corner, as he’s very effective at taking dribble pull ups inside when pressured off the line, and showcased a wide array of side-step shots at Kansas.
He had the occasional drive to the rim as well, where he showed some ambidextrous finishing ability.
An intelligent relocator and effective cutter. The off-ball movement is just sublime.
Gradey’s knowledge of where to be and where to cut during the offensive possession is second to none, making 59% of his shots at the rim in half-court sets.
He’s also great at getting shots off when coming off a screen, and settles into his shot quickly when he’s coming off movement.
The shooting gravity is one thing, but it’s another to make opportunities for teammates when the opponent pressures you on the perimeter. Gradey didn’t accumulate many assists at Kansas, but showed that he has the ability to make some advanced reads when he doesn’t have a shot available to him. Didn’t make too many mistakes with the ball, as he still had a positive ast/to and was good at making split-second decisions. Made some smart and easy passes in transition. I’d expect him to be a positive playmaker in the NBA. He just understands where he and the ball need to be in order to get the best shot.
Gradey is a positive athlete, testing in the upper echelon of some of the speed drills at the combine, including the fastest shuttle run time at 2.98 seconds. His 34 inch vertical won’t have him jumping out of the gym, but he’s not an oldhead at the YMCA either.
Side-note/interesting stat, Kansas was 24-2 when Gradey scored in double digits.
If you’ve ever heard someone say “Gradey Dick is a bad defender”, I’m here to tell you that you got somewhat bad information.
He’s not going to be locking down the opposing team’s best players, but by being a great team and help defender, he provides value. He defends with effort and doesn’t take possessions off. His knowledge of where to be allows for him to use his active hands to generate steals and deflections. Even though the Raptors are going to have a new coach and new defensive scheme going forward, it’s expected that those perimeter skills to generate extra possessions will still be a core part of their defensive identity. The 1.4 steals per game weren’t a fluke.
Athletic 6’7 with a 6’8 wingspan, Gradey has the physical tools, the attitude, and the intelligence to be an impactful defender. He’s just got to put it all together.
Areas of Improvement
I think he’s an underappreciated defender, but he still needs to improve his on-ball ability. He’s a little slow at turning his hips and, when locked into a 1v1 situation, tends to struggle. There are a few examples of teams resorting to ISO offence and hunting him. He’s not going to be an effective interior defender either.
I’m high on his ability to get shots off the dribble, but he’s not a full-blown shot creator at this point. Most of his off-the-dribble makes come off one or two dribbles, rather than a set of moves meant to create a shot for himself or teammates. I think this shows his upside for off-dribble shot creation, but that’s all it is at this point.
Fit on the Raptors
The best shooter on the team, instantly.
If you look at what the Raptors’ roster needs are from a fit perspective, they need three things:
1. A true number one, half-court scoring option (you’re probably not going to get that this late in the draft, which leads me to the second and third things…)
2. A playmaking point guard (Gradey is not this).
3. Shooting and wing depth (Gradey is this).
Due to his size, he can play guard or forward, depending on lineup composition. Meaning he can start next to Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby, or potentially at the 2 next to Fred VanVleet (if he comes back). I cannot stop obsessing over the two-man game potential between Barnes and Gradey, however. Scottie’s interior game combined with his playmaking mixed with Gradey’s elite shooting presence would wreak havoc on teams for years. With Gradey’s defensive upside, I believe the two could also eventually run some great defensive sets on the opposite end of the floor as well. Combined with the movement shooting off screens set by Poeltl? Game over, man.
There are few better fitting players for the Raptors than Gradey Dick in this class, and even fewer “good fit” players with ceilings as high as his.
I see a lot of inaccurate scouting around Gradey’s game, and I’m not too sure why. A lot of players with similar builds and reputations as Gradey in college have come into the league as spot-up shooting pieces for teams picking in the middle of the first round, but Gradey provides far more value than just waiting for a pass on the three point line. One of the best shooters and shot-makers in the class, period, with the stats and eye test to back it up, and enough secondary skills to place him as a top pick in the class rather than as a typical mid-round shooter that comes in every year.
Gradey Dick is 6th overall on my big board.
Jordan Hawkins – G, Connecticut
One of the best shooters off the catch in college basketball with a 49% efficiency on that shot type. Hawkins also has a very quick and smooth shot form that was very consistent in UConn’s championship season. He made threes in every game that he played and was healthy in.
Movement shooting is a major strength, much like Gradey Dick, and Hawkins averaged 4.2 points per game when making shots off screens.
Set him up with good screeners in the NBA and that will be a couple guaranteed buckets per night. Rises up off movement almost instantaneously, and uses good body control to make sure his shot is square to the basket.
Quite good at setting his feet and getting a shot up as the trailer in transition.
When he has a lane, Hawkins can make some highlight reel plays at the rim.
6’5 with a 6’6.75 wingspan, Hawkins has okay size for a guard playing the 2, though he’s not remarkable in this area. I think he’s going to be limited to defending guards, though he plays with a high degree of effort that will likely keep him on the floor.
Very good at making smart rotations and doesn’t usually foul. Quick hands, hustles and breaks up passing lanes, chases loose balls. Can stick to his man.
Areas of Improvement
Outside of the shooting, he’s rather… boring? It’s difficult to project a higher ceiling with him simply due to how he was used at UConn — but also due to his physical tools and lack of secondary skills on display. One of the examples of high-floor, low-ceiling in this class.
He’s not a ball handler, so his role in the NBA is likely going to be more restricted to an off-ball player. He’s not a playmaker either, posting a negative ast/to, he usually tries to get his own shot when he has the ball. Low 8.2% assist rate.
He’s a below average finisher at the rim. Has no floater whatsoever, which is kind of becoming a must-have for smaller guards who want to be able to score. Doesn’t have the burst or the handle to get to the rim in the half-court, even if in the open court he can have some impressive dunks. If he doesn’t develop in these areas he’s just going to be running around the arc all night.
Solid defensively, but struggles with consistency and guarding bigger players.
Fit on the Raptors
Much like Gradey Dick, Hawkins’ shooting would be a much welcomed addition to the Raptors. The shooting impact will provide relief instantly, and I expect him to get a lot of minutes because of it. Could fit in well with the starters, though I’d expect him to be a prominent bench presence for a couple years.
You’d probably want a solid defensive guard next to him, because I think you would be asking for trouble if he was your best or only defensive option in the backcourt. Positional versatility is limited, he’s likely stuck at the 2 regardless of the lineup composition.
Fits very well in a transition-heavy offence. Made a lot of transition threes at UConn. Should be able to create a lot of space and chaos just by his off-ball movement or coming off screens from players like Poeltl in the half-court.
There’s certainly value to be had with locking up a championship winning shooter like Hawkins on your roster for the long term. At the 13th overall pick, though? If the Raptors were truly enamoured with him, I would strongly encourage them to buy another pick in the teens. Given how many teams are expected to want to try and move up or out in this draft, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be able to find any trade partners. I couldn’t really argue in favour of taking Hawkins at 13 if players like Dick, Bufkin, Wallace, or George were still on the board.
I would be surprised if he’s the selection, but the Raptors may be desperate to inject some shooting into their longterm plans, and maybe some of those previously mentioned players get selected a little early, in which case Hawkins may be too much to pass up on.
Jordan Hawkins is 18th overall on my big board.