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2020 NBA Draft scouting report: Kira Lewis Jr.

Alabama v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will be profiled in this space and, in this edition, we take a look at Alabama guard Kira Lewis Jr.

As an Alabama fan and frequent observer, I have seen more of Kira Lewis Jr. than any other prospect in the draft. Absurdly young for a sophomore, Lewis graduated early and reclassified to the 2018 high school class. He immediately became the Tide’s starting point guard, starting all 34 games in his freshman campaign despite not turning 18 until April. He wasn’t even eligible for the 2019 draft since he was too young. Now aged 19, Lewis is still one of the youngest players in the 2020 draft class.

Some research has found that age is one of the most important factors in prospects, under the general hypothesis that the youngest players have more time to develop before reaching their primes, unlocking higher ceilings. Indeed, age is one of three primary factors that go into ESPN’s Kevin Pelton’s draft projections.

Considering that Lewis was a productive starter in a major conference at 17, and significantly improved in his second season while still being the age of typical freshmen, Lewis has flashed an accelerated growth curve that could pay off down the line.

Lightning quick, Lewis’ speed and body type reminisce of former Hawks guard Dennis Schroder. Equipped with a deadly first step and impressive burst, Lewis should have little issues penetrating NBA defenses. Slotted at No. 16 on ESPN’s big board at the time of writing, Lewis makes a lot of sense in the lottery for teams looking for help at point guard.

Offensive Analysis

  • Shot 36 percent from deep on over 300 career attempts at Alabama. Adept at shooting from catch-and-shoot positions or off the dribble, Lewis should be a versatile shooter at the next level. While he did not shoot from movement much in college, I would be interested to see this area further explored in the league.
  • Not a flashy passer, but typically makes the right read in pick-and-roll. I thought he improved as a passer in conference play. Still tends to force passes and turn it over more than you would like, but should be an effective pick-and-roll operator in the NBA.
  • Has a slight frame and will need to add weight to avoid getting bumped off the mark while finishing in the paint. He is pretty good at using the high glass similar to Schroder, but he gets blocked a lot. Will have to improve as a finisher to be an efficient scorer in the paint.

Defensive Analysis

  • Blocked 18 shots this past season and 28 total over his career at Alabama. Interestingly, research shows that blocks are an important indicator for offensive success for point guards; it is perhaps a proxy for athleticism. You like to see guard prospects get them.
  • Unspectacular defender but not bad either. Few point guards provide actual defensive value in the NBA and I would not bet on Lewis joining that group. However, I also do not expect him to be a serious nuisance. He competes to get over screens and generally remains engaged on defense.

Fit with the Hawks

With one of the best offensive players in the NBA in Trae Young locked in at point guard for the Hawks, Lewis makes little sense for Atlanta no matter how you cut it. At 6’3 with good shooting off the ball, it is possible you can squint and see Lewis as a backcourt partner for Young, but you have to really squint. It does not make sense for me.

That said, backup point guard was a serious thorn in Atlanta’s side this past season, so perhaps Lewis could be seen as an option there if the Hawks were to trade down. But even in a trade down, Lewis is completely off my Hawks board, personally. When you have a burgeoning superstar already at point guard, it just isn’t a good use of limited resources to invest again there.

However, I do think that Lewis is a lottery level talent in a class like this, and his combination of speed, versatile shooting, and young age makes him a good bet for starting upside.