Before the 2019 NBA Draft arrives, Peachtree Hoops will break down more than 70 available prospects with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks may look to do in late June.
This edition focuses on Shaw University guard Amir Hinton.
“I think the timing is perfect for me,” Shaw University guard Amir Hinton told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony nearly two month ago when he declared for the 2019 NBA Draft. “I will be hiring an agent. I am ready. I am going to try and be a lottery pick.”
It’s safe to say that, about halfway between that proclamation and the draft in late June, Hinton does not appear to be a lottery pick. In some ways, it’d be an accomplishment if he’s picked in the top fourteen of the second round, much less the first. A 6’5 score-first guard out of Division II Shaw University, he put up massive numbers with the Bears in his junior season after spending two seasons in Pennsylvania attending Lock Haven University.
Nearly 30 points per game on 63 percent true shooting is nothing to scoff at, no matter the level of play, though the particulars of Hinton’s game indicate that he was feasting on lesser competition than most of his fellow prospective rookies in this draft class. He finished well around the rim, drew a ton of fouls, and had a solid floater game when defenses put up too much resistance at the basket. Outside of that, though, there isn’t a whole lot to take solace in when Hinton’s game to the professional ranks. He’s likely a middling defender at the NBA level, doesn’t have a convincing outside jumper, and is rather limited as a playmaker for someone who has had the ball in his hands as often he has throughout his collegiate career.
There are ways in which Hinton makes it work and has a significant NBA career. He can develop his ball handling and passing in order to become a more well-rounded primary creator. There are moments in which you can see his vision on film – Shaw would use him as the central pivot in their zone offense, stationing him at the free throw line and letting him make plays from there. His scoring threat put him one dribble from the rim and the unorthodox positioning of zone defenders forced him to make reads and either find the open man or score himself.
For the most part, they were successful in these spots, as they finished with better numbers against the zone than they did against traditional man-to-man defense. If he can translate some of those reads and passes he made from a stationary position at the free throw line to on-the-move passing in pick-and-roll, then there’s a chance he could leverage his scoring in order to make his teammates better. Right now, that skill doesn’t exist for him, but it’s not impossible that it comes later.
The outside jumper is a work-in-progress, as his numbers were solid in catch-and-shoot but the volume was so low that it’s hard to know how real it was. On a team in which he’s not a primary creator, will he have more openings to fire away on that catch-and-shoot jumper and assuage concerns for that area of his game? Perhaps his pre-draft workouts will tell teams more about the jumper than we can tell from his college film, as they’ll be able to run him through more catch-and-shoot shots in a half hour workout than he took his entire junior year at Shaw.
In all likelihood, Hinton’s offensive game is going to come down to his ability to get to the rim, which can be a primary skill for a bench guard, who often have one specific area of strength and are relatively below average elsewhere. If he can hold up defensively at the NBA level, then bringing average defense and strong rack attacks on the other end is a recipe for success, but there’s also plenty of reason to think that neither of those things is in the cards for him as he makes his transition from Division II to the NBA, and it will be interesting to see where he lands professionally as a result.