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NBA Draft 2017 Prospect Breakdown: Terrance Ferguson

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Does a year of professional basketball hide Terrance Ferguson’s flaws or make him a steal in this year’s draft?

Australian Basketball Challenge Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

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 (er, No. 41). The series will stretch throughout the month of June and today’s post breaks down on Australian pro Terrance Ferguson who skipped a one-and-done college season to play overseas.

Terrance Ferguson is arguably the most difficult prospect to assess in the 2017 NBA Draft. Ferguson skipped playing college basketball to play professionally in Australia. He is one of the youngest players in the draft with a lot of potential as an athlete. However, he has virtually no competitive games against comparable talent to make any strong assessments. A late-rising lottery-level talent before going to Australia, Ferguson’s decision not to attend Arizona has likely damaged his draft profile.

Offensive Profile

Ferguson could be an elite shooter but there is not enough evidence to know how his game will translate to the professional level. Teams will bet on his strong profile prior to his overseas departure as he only shot 31% from deep this past season. At 6’7 with an ability to elevate higher than many shooting guards, Ferguson should not have much difficulty in getting his shot off.

As a high school senior, he reminded me of Devin Booker with more upside on the defensive end. Booker improved dramatically in his transition to college and then to the NBA. Ferguson did not maintain the same trajectory as Booker this season but it remains a reasonable comparison.

Defensive Profile

Ferguson is tall but has relatively short arms with just under a 6’9” wingspan. Players whose wing span is less than 2 inches longer than their height have historically struggle to make an impact on the defensive end of the floor.

Ferguson has a little more athleticism than other players with similar profiles and play with an unusual intelligence for his age and limitations in experience. He will not be drafted based upon his ability to defend but he should be able to defend his position in time.

Fit for the Atlanta Hawks

If Ferguson’s outside shot translated to the NBA, he is a reliable starter who will provide the spacing that every NBA team craves. An intelligent player who was a late-blooming talent in high school, it is difficult to assess what his last year overseas means for his development. If the Hawks base their assessment on what he was when he left, there would be plenty to be excited about with regard to his fit both on and off the floor in Atlanta.

Summary

I loved Ferguson as a prospect entering the 2016-17 college season and thought he would have benefited greatly in playing for Sean Miller at Arizona. I projected him to be a top-10 prospect before he made the decision to play professionally—which is not a decision that necessarily projects as a negative. What is a negative is his struggle to play much or knock down shots in Australia.

However, he played against much more mature players both in age and physical skill. Several reports shared how mature he handled himself in a professional environment. Ferguson is a risk as his shot could carry him anywhere from a star leader to a useless roster spot. With the 19th selection, Ferguson could be the rare player that has star ability and remains on the board after the lottery picks have passed.