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 examine Georgia forward Rayshaun Hammonds.
It is natural for fans to romanticize bringing a local product from a nearby high school and college home to the local NBA team as a professional athlete. As a Norcross native, this prospect played against the likes of Jaylen Brown and Isaac Okoro in high school. There is one player who fits that bill that everyone has heard of, and one who is very much under the radar.
Yes, all the buzz surrounds one-and-done player Anthony Edwards but junior teammate Rayshaun Hammonds may entice an NBA team with his hustle defending and ability to stretch the floor as a forward.
Over a three-year career at Georgia, Hammonds averaged 14.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per 36 minutes. He recorded 51.3/33.9/72.2 shooting percentages from two, three and the free throw line respectively, indicating a decent level of shot making.
Hammonds has a long and strong build at 6’9” and 235-pounds. His length, size and athleticism gives him great NBA readiness. He often manned the center position in Athens, but showed some defensive flexibility in switching and guarding the 3, 4 and 5.
Immediately, his hustle is one of the first aspects to jump off the tape. He can clearly get out in transition and sprint very well for his size, and pairs this with his open court handle on his way to the rim.
A left-handed shooter, he slowly over his career became comfortable facing up and firing off the dribble. He added a three point shot by his third, increasing his volume from 1.7 threes attempted his freshman year to 3.2 attempts as a junior. He has some real fluidity in his dribble and shot form too, rare for someone his size.
Hammonds is a strong rebounder, especially on the offensive end. He has a good second bounce to grab offensive boards and immediately go back up for an easy finish. He logged a fantastic 2.5 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes, and per Synergy, ranked in the 95th percentile in put backs off the glass, for 1.44 PPP (points per possession), showcasing an instinctual knack for knowing where the ball is coming off the rim.
He is an instinctive cutter off the ball, recording 1.21 PPP in these situations when he finishes or passes out of the cut. This, in conjunction with his added ability to space the floor, really opened up the court for ball dominant players like Anthony Edwards to play off of him.
His low center of gravity aids him greatly when holding his defensive ground in the post. Rarely did Hammonds ever get overpowered or pushed out of the way when a player faces up and takes it to his body. Additionally, he has a good handle of team defensive schemes and rotates decisively and promptly.
Hammonds isn’t afraid to throw his body around when the situation called for it. He shows no hesitation in diving for loose balls or saving the ball from going out of bounds. Ultimately, there are a lot of little aspects of his game that can help a team win if his motor can improve.
Hammonds doesn’t offer much on the offensive end that could translate to the NBA level. Travis Schlenk has stated he likes players who can dribble, pass, and shoot. Well, Hammonds is very nearly 0-for-3 in that regard, at least in terms of what he’s displayed to this point. He will defend hard with athleticism and savvy and can knock down an occasional open jumper, but that is largely the extent of his game at this point.
Hammonds is not an overly physical player on the offensive end. He ends up taking a lot of awkward shots with defense present. In the below clip, he spins back inside toward the help defense and is forced into a tough layup attempt.
At just over two assists per 36 minutes, Hammonds doesn’t profile as a playmaker and isn’t adept at passing out of the post. Plays like the one below help contribute to 2.6 turnovers per 36 minutes. Hammonds ends up with a smaller guy on him, but can’t quite use his bigger body to seal off the defender for what should be a layup attempt. This results in a lazy outlet pass.
He is not an accomplished player as a roller in pick-and-roll situations, finishing at just 1.04 PPP. He prefers to fade toward harder mid range shots instead of finding a crease in the lane for an easy opportunity. Similarly, he can get caught ball watching on offense and fail to use his body to shield the help defender when a teammate is driving into his area of the lane.
He can get beat with speed defensively and has a low level of bend in his lower body. His low number of blocks — just 0.47 blocks per 36 minutes — is a worrying indicator for someone more comfortable inside than outside. Hammonds can go through stretches where he drops his hands while guarding and his intensity on the defensive ends wanes.
Hammonds doesn’t close out well on three point shooters and is generally a liability near the perimeter. He can get lost in open space and taken out of plays off just one feign or deke.
The fouls can quickly rack up in the act of being an erratic and out of control offensive player, and Hammonds can often find himself on a minutes restriction to prevent fouling out. He had a career 4.16 personal fouls per 36 minutes, and as someone who was a glue guy for the Bulldogs, availability was not his best ability.
Maybe it was the product of a Georgia team that went 7-29 in SEC play combined in the last two seasons, but the motor for Hammonds just wasn’t anything to write home about. He will need to play with a more consistent drive going forward.
Possible fit with the Hawks
Rayshaun Hammonds has some intrigue as a forward with a long-range shot, but he comes with question marks on both sides of the ball. His interior defense is solid when guarding post ups, but his low block numbers indicate poor weak side recognition and range.
It is possible that some team envisions him in fitting a small ball hustle center role, like a (very) poor man’s Montrezl Harrell or a diet Rockets version of Jeff Green as a stretch five. A jack of all trades on offense but a master of none, his overall low levels of production places him on the fringes of most draft boards.
This November, Hammonds will turn 22 as a result of a multi-year college career, pushing him toward the older end of the draft class. His true value most likely merits a look as an undrafted free agent, but a late draft pick on a two-way G League deal is probably the ceiling for his results this draft cycle. Given that the Hawks own the No. 50 overall pick, there are potentially better uses of this asset than selecting Hammonds in the second round.