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 installment, we take a look at Alabama’s John Petty.
John Petty will shoot. The question is, will he do enough other things to crack an NBA rotation one day?
Petty, a 21-year-old guard from Alabama, is 6’5, not overly athletic by NBA standards and quite skinny, leaving him a bit undersized for his position, but not drastically. He is a competitive defender at times, and usually does a nice job contesting if he’s still in the picture. His slight frame probably puts him on the lesser of a given team’s wings at the next level defensively, but if he adds some strength, it is possible he could become a competitive defender with his 6’7 wingspan. Petty doubled his steal output in his junior season, and also averaged about seven rebounds per 36 minutes as a junior, by far a career-high.
Petty was one of the best shooters in Division I this season, converting 44% of his three-point attempts on nearly seven launches per game. He ranked in the 92nd percentile per Synergy in spot-up situations, converting 44.5% of his attempts in those situations. This is his most valuable skill, by a long-shot.
He shoots on the move, off rhythm dribbles, and most definitely off the catch. A potential red flag is his lack of success from the free-throw line, but his high accuracy from three-point range inspires a little bit of hope there. Per Synergy, he was also an effective cutter away from the ball. Almost 69% of his shot attempts were jump shots, and Petty ranked in the 97th percentile in terms of accuracy on those shots, converting 42.7% of those looks.
Widely projected as a late second-round selection or potentially a player that could fall out of the 60-slot draft entirely, Petty would make for a nice Two-Way option for a team that lacks shooting as much as the Atlanta Hawks did last season. While his minutes may come sparingly, he has the type of skill set tailored for success next to a player like Trae Young in that he doesn’t need to operate with the basketball to be successful. He could float to the weakside and make defenses pay when they overcompensate in an attempt to slow down a primary option like Young.
Petty currently ranks No. 54 on ESPN’s best available for the 2020 NBA Draft, and No. 91 on Sam Vecenie’s latest big board for The Athletic. This disparity effectively represents the wide range in which Petty could fall come draft day, whenever that is. Someone could reach for him in the late 30s or 40s if they fall in love with his shooting profile, or he may go undrafted and be a Two-Way target.
Possibly the biggest concern with Petty’s overall game is the fact that in three years at Alabama, he never had more assists than turnovers. While he profiles as a great shooter, he doesn’t always make the best decisions with the ball and struggles to see the floor. Still, in the right role his shot should play at the next level. Petty achieved career highs in points, assists, steals, blocks, rebounds, free throw attempts, three-point attempts, three-point percentage, field goal percentage, field goal attempts and minutes in his junior season.
For what it’s worth, Synergy tracked him as an excellent on-ball defender in NCAA, holding opponents to 27% on field goals in man-to-man defense. His slight frame presents potential issues at the next level, but he does possess defensive instincts and the ability to compete on that end of the floor. If he can add strength, there’s no reason he couldn’t be a competitive defender on a second unit.
While there are faults in his game, 44% from three-point distance on high volume is hard to ignore and makes Petty worth a flier at a certain point for any team. The 3-and-D prospect could be a diamond in the rough, and there’s very little risk or downside at all in the late second-to-undrafted range.
He would be an ideal target should the Hawks hold on to the No. 52 overall pick, the only pick they currently own other than their lottery selection. If the Hawks trade/sell their second round pick (would not be the first time: see Graham, Devonte’), Petty would be an ideal Two-Way target given the shooting struggles the club endured this past season.