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Monday, May 2, 2011

Sleeper Alert: Tyler Honeycutt

Tyler Honeycutt ranks 24th and 25th on ESPN's and Draftexpress's big board respectively. If you ask me, he should be in the lottery discussion.

Skill, size, and athleticism. Those are three major checkpoint when looking at a prospect. Honeycutt has them all.

Note: All stats are per 40 minutes pace adjusted.

Honeycutt has been praised for his all-around game, although he is knocked because he doesn't do one thing that stands out. Keep in mind that he is only a sophomore, though, and not having a key weakness is a big deal. His shot has a ton of potential. He has a smooth, compact stroke with great elevation. He is one of my favorite players in this draft to watch shoot. He went from only taking 1.6 threes a game as a freshman to taking 5.2 this season. This improvement seems to go unnoticed as his stock has failed to rise from the beginning of the year. His stroke is effortless and NBA range is already there. He shot 36.2% from three this year and should only get better.

His passing ability also shows good signs. He actively looks to get teammates involved, which is good since he will be a complementary scorer in the NBA, but in college, he was way to passive. His tentativeness saw him hesitate on open shots and resulted in him trying to force many bad passes. He has great vision, but he tries way too hard to get his teammates involved. If he had a scorer's attitude, he could have put up some impressive numbers this year.

You can't ignore his mindset, but I would expect it to get better with age. He improved his shot last year, and at 20 years old, he should continue to get better at knowing what to do with the ball. Its not like he has a bad feel for the game - as I said, he makes plenty of good passes too and shows excellent awareness on the defense end. He is just too passive right now. His game gets compared to Tayshaun Prince and I see similar things in their character too. Like Prince, his style should end up fitting in better with NBA guys. Repetitions and familiarity will also help.

The complexity of UCLA's offense sure doesn't help either. We saw it with Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday - playing off the ball on the wing in Howland's offense isn't ideal. Especially for great athletes like all of them were. What makes Honeycutt's situation even worse is point guard play. Westbrook and Holiday had the luxury of playing with Collison. UCLA had no point guard this year. Honeycutt ended up second to Lazeric Jones on the team for assists and Jones only had 3.6 per game.

Honeycutt shot only 40.6% from the field this year, but it doesn't speak for the kind of player he is. In the faster pace game of the NBA, he should be able to use his athleticism to get out for some easy transition buckets. Look at Honeycutt for what he has to offer. He is the complete package of athleticism and skills. How many other guys in this draft have that?

I don't think his athleticism is appreciated enough due to his passiveness and UCLA's style. Check him out on defense if you want a real representation. He's had some LeBron James-esque chase down blocks (or Tayshaun Prince circa 2004 ECF if you will). Last year, he showed off his ability to get steals to the tune of 2.2 a game and then decided to switch his interest to blocking shots this season (2.3 a game). If you need some proof of his leaping ability, you can check out this dunk too.

Ok, so we know he has the athleticism, size, and skill set for a small forward. His mindset isn't ideal, but there aren't red flags due to it either. He sounds like a lottery pick, right?

His turnovers are his biggest problem, but if you listen to John Hollinger, it can be viewed as a good thing. History shows that young wings with high turnovers can be a positive indicator. Last year, Honeycutt ranked 5th in turnovers per possession. Two spots below him was Darius Morris, arguably the most improved player in the country. Honeycutt also has a negative pure point ratio which is a bit of an anomaly for small forwards who rack up assists. His -3.35 PPR is one of the worst among guys with similar assists numbers, but there have been successful small forwards with similar numbers. Manny Harris (his was actually above -5), Hakim Warrick, Paul George, Sonny Weems, and Dominic McGuire all had worse. Caron Butler, Marquis Daniels, Evan Turner, Klay Thompson, Marquis Blakely, Corey Brewer,  Earl Clark, Courtney Lee, and Landry Fields were all worse than -2 as well. A poor pure point ratio doesn't seem to be a bad thing at all if you look at the rest of the list. The most successful players seem to have had trouble in that area.

Workouts are coming up and Honeycutt will have a great opportunity to make a leap ahead of the late lottery to mid-first round pack. Just remember that I called his leap before it happened.

1 comment:

  1. we love our pick in honeycutt , glad he is a sacramento king.