In advance of the 2017 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down a wide variety of players that could be available for the Atlanta Hawks at either No. 19 or No. 31. The series will stretch throughout the month of June and today’s post breaks down Syracuse power forward Tyler Lydon.
Tyler Lydon can shoot the basketball. In this draft class, that alone has the former Syracuse standout projected to be selected at some point in the first round. He also possesses well above-average raw athleticism for a player his size but Lydon has not shown much ability to use that athleticism in any area of play apart from maybe offensive rebounding. When you consider that he was almost 21 years old when he completed his sophomore season, that might give one some cause for concern.
Lydon has as much reliable range as a shooter as any player in this class and that alone has solid value, especially in this group of prospects. He is not just a catch and shoot player but rather one that can shoot the ball on the move. He has great feel moving off of the ball especially when working on the weak side of the offensive floor.
Lydon shows the ability to run and jump when he plays in transition. But when he is operating in the half court offense he often becomes a very different player. He will attack the basket at times when playing against smaller, less physical defenders. But in match ups against teams that play with any amount of physicality he too often just disappears.
He has all of the athletic skills that you would want a player to have as to be able to operate in the high pick and roll action. Lydon should be able to pick and pop from the 3-point line and should be able to roll to the rim and finish at a high conversion rate. But unless there is just little-to-no defensive resistance he just does not do it.
In the pick and roll, when the ball is delivered to him, he is incredibly indecisive. It seems like he has to completely mentally reset in these situations, scan the court, determine the read and then take an action, which too often is executed in very mechanical fashion. The challenge that might cause this could be as simple as him not having any confidence in his dribble. Or there could be a larger mental obstacle here. But something is holding him back from applying himself at an acceptable level in this area of his game.
Lydon’s engagement as a defender is not all that different than what it is on the offensive side of the court. At times he looks very engaged while at other times he seems to be just going through the motions. To me it seems to just be very match up dependent. It’s not unusual for young players to prefer to play in space as opposed to playing in tight quarters. But you want to see some type of competitive streak when play becomes a little bit physical. And it’s not like he was playing as a teenager last season.
In terms of technique, Lydon demonstrates good footwork and discipline. Somewhere along the way someone taught him how to play defense. But he leaves you wanting to see him use his physical skills to bring more force to his play as a defender.
Syracuse was one of the worst rebounding teams in the NCAA last season and that does not reflect well on Lydon as an interior defender. They were in the top five percent as a team at protecting the rim, but Lydon’s freshman teammate Taurean Thompson was a much stronger contributor to this area of play.
One does wonder if he will feel freed up playing in an NBA style defense. Syracuse famously plays a match-up zone scheme. A year ago the Hawks were going through a similar evaluation with Taurean Prince as he played in a similar defensive system at Baylor.
Fit for the Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks need perimeter shooters badly and Lydon could be deployed as an above average offensive spacer immediately in spots, if that were all they needed him to do. In terms of mental approach to the game and a willingness to fight through an entire defensive possession, he could not be further away from being a fit.
NBA teams appear to be bringing in Lydon to work out in groups with other draft prospects. One would imagine that teams are putting him into competitive drills with players that are comfortable playing with physicality as to see how he handles himself. If the Hawks have done so and have seen encouraging signs, I think that could really move the needle in terms of projecting good potential fit.
My assessment is that the Hawks should have better or at least more reliable options at the No. 19 pick and that Lydon is quite possibly going to be off of the board at the No. 31 pick. So, if the Hawks do ending up using the No. 19 pick on him, it would indicate that he was able to sell himself as a competitor in those workouts. His combination of shooting ability along with an impressive and robust set of raw athletic skills absolutely do make him a potentially enticing prospect.