College: University of Kentucky
Age: 19 (Turns 20 July 12th)
College Stat Line (1 year): 14.4 PTS 4.1REB 5.1 AST
Standing reach: 8’8
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a 19 year old player coming out of Kentucky after a successful freshman year. Shai was arguably Kentucky’s best player in an up and down season for Kentucky’s standards. Most NBA draft projections have SGA slotted somewhere in the mid-first round. Shai is a 6’6 slashing point guard with excellent vision but has a jump shot that needs improvement.
-Pick-and-Roll (PnR): Excellent feel in the pick and roll. 0.95 Points per Possession in the PnR (86th percentile). Very good at reading what the defense gives to him.
-Defense: 314 points on the 413 defensive possessions Shai was the primary defender (0.76 PPP-81st percentile). Has the length and foot speed to become an elite perimeter defender. His height allowed him to switch onto big men in PnR situations at Kentucky, but his slim frame has a ways to go before he can handle NBA forwards.
-Size: Shai has incredible size for the point guard position at 6’6. His standing reach of 8’8 is nearly four inches taller than the second tallest standing reach of a point guard at the combine.
-Vision: Has excellent vison of the entire court in PnR or, drive-and-kick situations. Shai could develop into a solid distributer at the NBA level given his height to see over the defense and willingness to pass the ball.
-High Basketball IQ: Has an excellent feel for the game that helps him make quick decisions to put his teammates in position to score. Shai reacts quickly to defenses rotating to help and finds the open man.
-Ball Handling: Shai has a good handle for a college player but may need to tighten it up to succeed at the next level. Has excellent control in the PnR and on drives to the paint, but his pull-up jumper is too slow and his step-back isn’t developed enough to create enough separation for his shot.
Finishing: Has a multitude of moves around the rim and the height to finish amongst big men. He lacks elite above-the-rim athleticism which could give him trouble with NBA level rim protectors.
-Jump Shot: In a league that is trending toward the 3 point line, SGA biggest weakness is his inability to space the floor. Shai has a fairly slow release for a guard; his elbow is further from under the ball than you would like, and he has a small hitch in his shot. Shai’s success at the next level is largely dependent on the development of his jump shot.
-Lacks elite speed and athleticism: Shai moves well for a 6’6 point guard but doesn’t quite have the explosiveness the elite point guards in the NBA have today. Doesn’t have an elite first step which could limit is potential to penetrate.
-Difficulty creating space: As mentioned before SGA does not possess uber-athleticism, which lead to issues creating space at the college level. Any player that struggles in at the college level for separation, no doubt will find the increased strength and athleticism in the NBA an issue. Shai relies on a difficult selection of layups and floaters to make up for his average athleticism, but could find the increased defensive level in the NBA could prove to be a road block inn his development.
Role on Bucks:
With Malcom Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe on the current Milwaukee Bucks roster it seems like the probability of drafting a point guard is low, but after a disappointing season there is always chance of a roster makeover. I could see a world in which Shai develops a jump shot and becomes a valuable backup point guard with the versatility of defending 1-3. The Bucks could stand to improve with another smart and capable defender in the back court, especially if the days of Eric Bledsoe, Milwaukee Buck, are coming to an end.