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 33 picks.
Today’s installment will evaluate Florida guard Jalen Hudson.
Jalen Hudson played his junior season at the University of Florida after transferring from Virginia Tech after two seasons. The move seems to have worked out for him as he ended up leading the Gators in usage while helping his draft stock. He put those additional opportunities to good use and ended up with the fifth-highest effective field goal percentage in the SEC.
Having started his collegiate career without having been ranked a top 150 high school prospect, Hudson made a lot of progress across his three collegiate seasons. He mostly developed as a scorer but also made some progress as a team defender.
Hudson is at his best working off the ball (off of screens or spacing as a shooter on the weak side of the offensive formation) or attacking his defender with dribble penetration. He had more turnovers than assists in each of his three NCAA seasons. As such, it seems he is unlikely to develop into being an efficient and effective secondary creator.
He’s not dynamic in the pick and roll. And, on the occasions when a play developed into him getting a screen from a big man, he preferred to use it as an opportunity to simply get separation from his defender and prepare to attack as a shooter or with the dribble.
Hudson is, however, quick and athletic and his most elite skill is being able to get separation from his defender. He is also effective in transition where he can use his speed to get easy shots at the rim.
He works hard off of the ball running off of screens and moving continuously as to force the defense to account for him as a very good shooter.
He uses a quick screen to get his defender to a spot from where he can attack off of the dribble. He demonstrates good footwork and make the step back jumper just inside of the free throw line.
When his defender trails him over an off ball screen, Hudson has the ability to attack the paint. He has solid craft at or near the rim. On this play, he working against one of the stronger defensive teams in the NCAA and he looks comfortable getting and making the shot.
He makes the most of opportunities to attack the defense before they get set. On this play, the collegiate veteran sees a a path to the basket, put his head down and uses his quickness to get the uncontested dunk.
His play in transition is natural and unforced. He is a fast long-strider that can switch ends of the floor quickly.
Hudson became a solid team defender during his one season at Florida (he has reserved the right to return if his NBA evaluation suggests it might be the right move). He does not have the bulk to defend various positions. But he works hard and uses his quickness to stay attached to the player he is defending.
His best skill on the defensive end of the court is operating as a help defender. Hudson demonstrated a high effort and solid decision making in the half court defense. He is also good as closing on opponents in transition and breaking up what might have otherwise been an easy bucket.
If Hudson is to ever break into an NBA rotation, it will likely be his effectiveness as a scorer and floor spacer that gets him there. He shot better than 40 percent from beyond the three point line on 194 attempts last season and his jump shot will surely have to translate at the next level for him to earn a spot in a rotation. He will also need to get a little stronger as to develop into a passable defender in the half court.
From a Hawks perspective, Hudson would seemingly be in the mix for picks No. 30 and No. 33, though he could easily slip beyond Atlanta completely or, as noted above, elect to return to school.