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P.I. Confidential: Chapter 2

Updated: Jan 11



In the latest edition of  P.I. Pulse, we continue our new column, 'P.I. Confidential.' Penned by an anonymous NBA scout with a decade of experience within multiple pro front offices, the idea with this endeavor is to provide them a platform to pull back the curtain and openly discuss scouting philosophies, procedures, processes, and of course, prospects:


As we head into the Holiday break at the collegiate level it’s good to see where we stand in the composite mock to set a good baseline moving forward.


Using six different mocks/big boards, 93 players received at least one top-60 (or 58) ranking. Looking back at drafts I have been a part of at the NBA level, this feels like the most wide-open class at this point in the season in at least seven years (Fultz/Ball/Tatum). All drafts are hard; this one feels even harder. I have had a tough time getting to 10 prospects I like, let alone the usual 20-30 I feel can become potential NBA players.

 

Below is where we currently stand in the composite mock and I will highlight two players I am lower on and two players I am higher on as we head into 2024.



Two players I am higher on:

 

Reed Sheppard

I don’t think I have ever evaluated a player like Reed Sheppard. The start to the season he has had statistically is borderline insane. Often we will find players who check one side of the ball: offensive juggernauts who shoot the lights out, or defensive players who rack up steals, blocks and rebounds. Now there is a 6’3” player who is doing both: shooting 58-57-90, with a 24.5 ast%, a 5.7% steal rate and a 3.5% block rate. It is one of the most impressive statistical starts to the season I have ever seen. Sheppard can play on and off-ball — better off-ball right now, where he can attack closeouts to find teammates in good positions to score. He has no issues with NBA range as a shooter and I am confident Sheppard will be a plus-NBA shooter from day 1. Defensively, he does a great job getting into the ball and has elite instincts to get into passing lanes while also being able to block shots. To illustrate just how special those defensive metrics are, Matisse Thybulle is the only drafted player to have a greater than 3% block and 5% steal rate (Bart Torvik). Interestingly, there are a couple Virginia players doing that this season (Dunn and Beekman). If he can improve his functional athleticism and ball handling, he will be a weapon at both PG and SG. Sheppard likely won’t go as high as he should, but is absolutely looking like a lottery pick. 

 

Ja’Kobe Walter

It’s hard to be higher on a player that is likely a consensus top 5-7 pick but I think Ja’Kobe in this draft could get some real consideration at #1 with a second half of the season jump. He is on the older end for this class being 19.8 on draft night, but he is the best shooter (after Sheppard) shooting 40% from 3 and 88% from the free throw line. Walter also does a fantastic job getting to the line (40% FTr). He has good size at 6’6 with a +5 wingspan, has deep range and can shoot both off the dribble and coming off screens. Walter moves well defensively and offers versatility in his ability to guard 1-3. He has a slighter frame so likely will be at his best guarding down where he can use his quickness and size to his advantage. He’s produced a solid 2.7% steal rate, thus far, and has been a below-average rebounder on both ends. To take the leap into the #1 conversation, he will need more opportunities as a creator. He’s a good finisher at the rim, but hasn’t displayed the elite pop to finish above it. For a weaker draft class, Ja’Kobe does a lot of things right that teams will be able to get on board with.


Two players I am lower on:

 

Cody Williams

I wanted to touch on Cody Williams, because I was (wrongfully) a little lower than consensus on his brother and am lower on Cody right now than consensus, as well. My main issue with Cody is him playing with a complete lack of force. For someone who has good size and length, he has awful steal (1.7%) and block (1.1%) rates as well as being a non-existent rebounder (10.4% DREB and 4.8% OREB). He is coming back from injury and has only played in seven games, so he could just be rounding into form. When he pops, it’s really intriguing, as he’s a smooth mover for his size and can handle the ball. In this way, he reminds me of Cam Reddish as someone who’s best looks great but doesn’t do it quite often enough. Long way to go for him, but right now I have him lower on my board than others.


Isaiah Collier

Collier has been all over the place so far this season, highlighted by his 25% TO rate. He is good at playing bully ball and a solid scorer inside the paint due to his strength, but everything is below the rim. In today’s NBA, we see how hard it is for PGs who are poor shooters — and mix in a below-average athlete and I don’t see a top-10 prospect based on how I want my guards to play. Collier needs the ball in his hands with space and while he is an efficient scorer in the paint, everything is hard and will get harder once he has to deal with NBA athletes. For someone who likes to play physically on offense, he is a non-rebounder on the defensive end. Isaiah feels like the player who has always been physically gifted in terms of strength and size and hasn’t had to develop other skills because what he is good at has worked, until he is faced with older and better athletes. For me at the guard position, if you don’t show shooting or shooting upside, it is hard for me to consider you in the draft altogether, let alone at the top.


Thanks for checking in! Leave me some feedback @_piconfidential and tell me where I’m wrong and who I need to watch further.

 

In the Chapter 3, we will redraft the 2022 NBA draft lottery.

Until next time!



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