After dominating the Michigan prep hoops scene at New Haven High and shining on the Nike EYBL AAU circuit, Weems shocked the nation by committing to DePaul, spurning the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, and Ohio State. Weems, a highly touted but somewhat underrated recruit (RSCI: 53), also accumulated valuable international experience, competing for USA Basketball winning gold medals in the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2018 U17 World Cup. The versatile freshman is off to a great start to his college career and has all the tools to eventually translate as an impact NBA forward, but has been omitted from many of the early mainstream 2020 NBA Draft boards and mocks. Expect that to change as the season progresses. With plus-measurables and athleticism anchoring an ever-evolving skill set, Weems is certainly a diaper dandy to key in on as a potential riser and eventual one-and-done candidate.
Tale of the Tape
Rim-Running & Transition Offense
In the modern NBA, nearly every team is seeking hybrid forwards that can create havoc defensively and turn that defense into efficient transition scoring opportunities. Weems excels in this regard. He has great straight-line speed in the open floor, paired with a nice combination of explosive vertical pop and shifty, functional footwork. Weems has already proven a lethal transition threat in multiple regards: beating his man down the court for an uncontested bucket, filling his lane as and alley-oop threat, and euro-stepping past the opposition’s last line of defense. He’s been a stock-monster in the early season: one of only 25 qualifying freshmen with a 3+STL% and 4+BLK%, which often kick-starts DePaul’s transition attack. Weems, despite his handle being somewhat of a work in progress, is also fairly comfortable going coast-to-coast as a transition handler which, in conjunction with his turnover creation and aforementioned transition versatility, makes him the top scorer amongst those 25 qualified freshmen.
In the clip below, we highlight Weems’ success through six games with DePaul at punishing teams in transition.
In 19 transition possessions to-date, Weems ranks in the 86th percentile by converting at a clip of 1.368 PPP. While this sample size is small, it aligns with his historical pre-NCAA production and skill set. Expect Weems to continue to create turnovers and thrive in transition.
The next evolution to his transition arsenal will be furthered development as a facilitator for others on the break. His effectiveness as a transition finisher and rim-runner should draw more and more defensive attention as the season progresses. Weems, an underrated passer who proved a very capable distributor in international competitions, has shown some flashes of vision and, if he can consistently read and react to opposing transition defenders shading his way by finding his teammates filling lanes, he’ll be nearly unstoppable in the open floor.
Motor & Defensive Versatility
Weems busts his ass on defense. He’s consistently locked into a defensive stance as an on-ball defender and remains engaged with his head on a swivel as an off-ball team defender. This defensive engagement, in conjunction with his length (~6’10” wingspan) and functional athleticism make Weems capable of guarding several positions, forcing tough shots / on-ball turnovers, and creating chaos as an impact defender jumping passing lanes and providing help-side rim protection.
In the clip below, we highlight Weems’ on-ball and off-ball motor and engagement on the defensive end, as well as a high-effort putback on the offensive end.
While Weems has the prerequisite length and wiry strength to guard up a position in college, he could stand to continue to add to his frame (enough to endure physicality but not lose speed/quickness) to ensure this switchability translates to guarding big fours and occasional small-ball fives the next level. Additionally, while the defensive impact plays are highly encouraging and a great indicator of Weems’ high-level defensive instincts, he could stand to ensure that maintains a healthy balance of taking risks and remaining disciplined on the defensive end.
Weems is, perhaps, one of the most underrated 2020 NBA Draft prospects at this point in the process. His Nike EYBL performance was very encouraging and is already translating to early success as a freshman at DePaul. In his first handful of games as a Blue Demon, Weems has played to his strengths by knocking down spot-up jumpers in the half-court and pushing the pace in transition. His motor, versatility, instincts, and athleticism have immediately stood out on the defensive end.
Weems' range of outcomes is particularly variable at this point. He’s flying a bit under the radar and consensus currently projects him on the fringe of draftability. We project his stock to continue to rise throughout the season and for Weems to warrant late 1st Round to early 2nd Round consideration when spring rolls around. If Weems does pick up some momentum, catches the eyes of a few NBA General Managers, and receives positive feedback as it pertains to draft position and a guaranteed contract, he very well may stay in the 2020 NBA Draft pool. If he either doesn’t declare or tests the waters and withdraws, expect him to be one of the top returning prospects in the nation as a sophomore heading into the 2021 NBA Draft scouting season.
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