In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 34 picks.
Today’s breakdown evaluates Maryland wing Kevin Huerter.
Kevin Huerter has shot up draft boards in the past week due to a very impressive combine performance that saw him make fifteen straight threes in an individual drill (with no defense). Throw in solid measurables in height and weight and in the combine’s agility and speed drills on top of his standout performance in the scrimmage and it’s easy to understand why his stock has risen in advance of the May 30 deadline to return to the University of Maryland or continue with the draft process.
Standing 6’7 with a neutral wingspan, Huerter’s shooting will be his key draw to NBA teams who are looking for 3&D wings anywhere they can find them. Huerter has the “3” in “3&D” locked down—he absolutely has a place in an NBA rotation as at least a shooter who can run off screens and have immense spot-up gravity.
Huerter finished in the 88th percentile in spot-up situations, most of which were catch-and-shoot or one-dribble jumpers, and was better than 67 percent of D-I players in shooting off screens. Unlike a lot of guys, Huerter didn’t struggle with one direction or the other—he was just as efficient going to his left as his right when shooting on the move.
Huerter’s offensive game will likely be entirely limited to his shooting. He flashed some off-the-dribble creation at the college level, but his isolation game may not be as effective against stronger and quicker defenders at the NBA level. The small level of isolation and pick-and-roll creation either yielded relatively tame results or was in such a small sample that it’s unlikely to be meaningful.
Defensively, it’s a bit of a mixed bag for Huerter. He scored well in individual quickness drills at the combine, but those numbers don’t translate as well to his functional athleticism on film, but with a 6’7 wingspan, simply being in the right places with some modicum of activity will make him into a fine defender.
He’s not going to be a primary stopper at the next level, but he has good help instincts and is big enough to make it work on that end. He uses his length will to block shots, not as a traditional rim protector or rotating over from the weak side, but surprising his mark with his length in isolation, in the post, and on closeouts to the three-point line:
It’s possible that Herter will fit the bill of the versatile, switchy defender that NBA teams crave, but the greater likelihood is that he’s just an average defender who can knock down shots on the other end. The present-day comparison could be Washington’s Otto Porter, who earned a max contract with the Wizards after hitting more than 43 percent of his threes in his fourth season.
Huerter profiles as that level of shooter, especially in an offense with a pair of playmakers around him on the perimeter, but the defense is what will either keep him on the bench or elevate him to becoming a strong starter-level player.