While not too many rookies are asked to self-create in isolation right off-the-bat, showing signs of creative handle, pull-up acumen, and space creation out of iso’s is a key aspect of evaluating certain prospects’ potential translatability to the NBA. Especially in the playoffs when defenses are locked in, fully engaged, and can key in on opponent tendencies throughout the course of a series, it’s vital to have multiple effective self-creators on the court.
In our fifth Film Room Friday installment of the 2019-20 scouting season, the PBC scouting team has performed a deep-dive into prospects with potential to translate as effective iso creators.
To provide some context, let’s first lay out a few examples of NBA players that excel in iso scenarios.
NBA Rookies and Sophomores: Luka Dončić, Trae Young, Ja Morant
NBA Veterans: James Harden, Spencer Dinwiddie, Damian Lillard
Recent NBA Retirees: Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Jamal Crawford
These lists are not meant as rankings, and are certainly non-exhaustive, but serve the purpose of providing some familiar examples of NBA players that exemplify this skill set.
Within the 2020 NBA Draft class, there are a handful of prospects that stand out as projectable iso creators. Among those ranked in the top 45 on consensus big boards are Cole Anthony, Grant Riller, and Cassius Winston.
Below, we will highlight three 2020 NBA Draft eligible prospects ranked outside of the top 45 on consensus big board rankings with the potential to add value as iso shot creators.
Wing | 6’6’’ | 215 lbs. | Jr. (RS) | Syracuse | #33
PBC Consensus Ranking: 67
Elijah Hughes has been one of the best scorers in college basketball this year, primarily because of his off-the-dribble shooting acumen and ability to create for himself out of isolation. Hughes currently ranks in the 75th percentile as an iso creator, and such play types account for 23.2% of his offensive possessions, making iso's Hughes' most frequent play type. As can be seen in the video, Hughes is capable of getting to the basket and finishing in the lane, but prefers to create space an flow into pull-up jumpers. While attacking the basket more aggressively/frequently is a notable area for improvement, his ability to create quality looks for himself after breaking down a defender one-on-one is really impressive. His shifty crossover helps him create space for himself to get shots off. Hughes particularly excels at changing speed, stopping on a dime, and elevating over a defender’s contest. He's also shown to be one of the best in this draft class at utilizing unique footwork on the perimeter (side-steps, stepbacks, etc.) to create a sliver of space and make defenders pay as a dynamic iso threat.
Wing | 6’5’’ | 200 lbs. | Jr. | Nevada | #15
PBC Consensus Ranking: 90
Mason Jones has been unstoppable in isolation this year, racking up 1.011 points per possession (PPP), which ranks in the 87th percentile. He’s a pretty unique player in isolation because he doesn’t have particularly notable burst or athleticism. Jones does a great job of using his size and frame advantage to physically over power defenders in isolation and drive right through them for looks in the paint. Jones takes really smart angles and is really good at initiating contact and earning his way to the stripe. Jones' ability to attack the basket and bully defenders incentives some defenders to play off him a bit, but Jones has shown more than capable of pulling up for off-the-dribble jumpers and can make defenders pay for sagging off and giving him too much space. Finally, even though he doesn’t have ‘plus’ athleticism, Jones is able to create a viable amount of space with effective stepback footwork.
Wing | 6’5’’ | 195 lbs. | Jr. (RS) | Nevada | #2
PBC Consensus Ranking: 94
Jalen Harris is one of the most talented offensive players in the country, ranking in the 91st percentile in as an iso scorer by converting at a 1.071 PPP clip. Harris uses his combination of a solid first step, quick burst/acceleration, and above-average handles to create shots for himself. Harris' eyes light up when he gets a favorable switch, as he typically dominates these mismatches in isolation by using his smooth, quick handle to blow by the defender. Harris uses advanced combo moves like double between-the-legs or in-and-out crossovers to throw defenders off balance and create space for either a pull-up jumper or a clear lane to the basket. Similar to Hughes, he also has sidestep and stepback pull-up footwork in his bag to create clean iso looks on the perimeter.
*Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports Technology
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