Kevin Huerter – Maryland
CPP Big Board Ranking: #19 Overall (#8 SG)
Weight: 194 lbs
Age/Birthday: 19 (8/27/98)
Hometown: Clifton Park, NY
High School: Shenendehowa Central High School
(Grant Kobrin – 6/14/18)
Kevin Huerter played two seasons for Maryland and after testing the NBA Draft waters, participating in the combine and in several team workouts, his draft stock skyrocketed and he decided to keep his name in the NBA Draft. Huerter measured and tested well at the combine and was one of the top performers during the scrimmages, changing the way scouts and teams viewed him from being a mid-second round pick, to being a sure-fire first-round pick. Kevin Huerter is widely considered to be the best pure shooter in this draft, and this, along with his impressive size, length, and athleticism, make him a very intriguing prospect. The most recent news relating to Kevin Huerter is that he will undergo surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right hand, and will be out for the next two months, meaning that he is not only done working out for teams but also will be unable to participate in the NBA summer league. While for most prospects this could potentially hurt their draft stock, there are rumors that Kevin Huerter has received a promise from a team picking in the back-end of the first round. This team is reportedly the LA Lakers who may want to speed up his recovery timeline and prevent him from working out for teams picking ahead of them. Regardless, it is unfortunate that Huerter will not be seen during this upcoming summer, but this is regarded as a very manageable injury and he should still hear his name called at some point in the first round.
Kevin Huerter is known as an excellent shooter, and that should be his most translatable skill to the NBA. Huerter shot the ball excellently from all areas of the court, where last season, he shot just under 42% from beyond the arc, over 50% from the field, and just under 76% from the freethrow line. These are all impressive numbers, and are all significant improvements from his freshman campaign, which is definitely encouraging to say the least. The important thing is that Kevin Huerter not only shoots the ball with an extremely high level of confidence, but also takes smart, in-rhythm jump shots. Huerter has shown a tremendous ability as a spot up shooter, which will most likely be his most immediate skill in the NBA, but he also has a developing jumpshot off of the dribble. He was able to show some of this at Maryland, but this will be key for him to improve upon. Outside of pure shooting, Kevin Huerter showed some ability to drive in college, but most surprisingly proved to be an excellent finisher at times. This allows him to be a more well-balanced scorer on the basketball court. Another key skill-set that Kevin Huerter possesses is his basketball IQ, where Huerter really shows an excellent understanding of how the game needs to be played. He makes good decisions with the ball in his hands and is very unselfish as well. He possesses decent court vision as he averaged over 3 assist per game last season, which is very good for a wing player in college. Rebounding is another strength for Kevin Huerter as he averaged about 5 rebounds in both seasons at Maryland, which is solid for a perimeter player.
The biggest thing that Hurter has going for him outside of shooting, is his measurables and proven athleticism. Kevin Huerter measured over 6’6” without shoes on at the combine, which will immediately make him one of the taller shooting guards in the league. But more importantly his size, along with his length, will allow him to play and guard multiple positions, which is something that is valued more than ever in the league today. Athletically, Kevin Huerter is an above average athlete for his size. In terms of his defense, in college Kevin Huerter was seen as a plus defender, and this should translate over to the NBA. While there are questions about him defensively which we will address later on, he did a good job of keeping offensive players in front of him and using his size and length to overwhelm them. Overall, Kevin Huerter is a pure shooter, and will widely be used to space the floor in the NBA, but also possesses other invaluable intangibles such as his size, athleticism, basketball IQ, and his commitment to rebounding and playing defense.
Kevin Huerter needs to improve on his perimeter ball-handling in order be more effective as a creator. This will allow him to not only be more of a threat with the ball in his hands, but allow him to create better shots for himself and his teammates.This will also allow him to improve on his ability to get to the rim and finish. In college he did a decent job of doing this, but as I mentioned earlier, this is still certainly a developing part of his game and he is going to need to improve on this aspect of his game to compete at the next level. He definitely needs to be more aggressive attacking the paint because as one of the leading scorers for Maryland last season, he only averaged a disappointing 3.1 free-throw attempts a game. Improving his ball handling will also allow Huerter to expand on his dribble pull-up game, which will allow him to be more than just a catch and shoot three point shooter at the next level. When defenders run him off of the three point line, he will need to use a pump fake and one or two dribbles to create space and score inside the arc. He showed an ability to do this on a limited basis in college, but this will be a more crucial skill-set in the NBA, where getting your shot off is significantly more difficult than it is against collegiate players.
Besides all of this, Huerter also needs to work on being a bit more patient with the ball in his hands. Although it certainly does seem that Huerter is a very capable decision maker with the ball in his hands, he did average 2.5 turnovers a game last season, which is definitely a much higher number than a non-primary facilitator should have. For instance, Gary Trent Jr, another possible first round pick, who is known as a pure shooter from the 2-guard position, only averaged 1.0 turnovers a game, where he played very similar minutes and played somewhat of a similar role on Duke as did Huerter played for Maryland. Turnovers are something that guards can improve upon, but it definitely is a weakness that is worth mentioning. Lastly defensively, there are questions surrounding his impact in this area of the game at the next level. He should be able to guard size fairly well from the perimeter, but he may struggle to defend smaller and more athletic shooting guards such as Donovan Mitchell, CJ McCollum etc.. This is not a major concern, as many players who are not off of the charts athletically face these same concerns upon transitioning to the NBA, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on. Kevin Huerter needs to improve upon his ball handling and shot creating skills, minimizing his turnovers, and proving that he really will be a plus defender at the next level, but is still a very solid prospect overall.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: J.J. Redick
Kevin Huerter is most comparable to J.J. Reddick. Both players are well established shooters from beyond the arc, can make big shots, and had questions surrounding their shot creating abilities and defensive impact coming into the draft. While Redick is not exactly known for his defensive impact, his shot creating ability is what ultimately saved his career when he looked like a bust for the Orlando Magic in his first few seasons, and is what established him as more than just a three point shooter. Kevin Huerter will need to work on this area of his game to become as impactful as Redick has been in the NBA. The good news is that Huerter is significantly taller, more athletic, and is a better defensive prospect than Redick has ever been, which makes him even more of an intriguing prospect than one would think.
Expect Kevin Huerter to be selected somewhere between the 15-25 range of the first round, where he could fill many of the shooting needs for these teams drafting in this respective range. The Lakers have the 25th pick, so if the rumors are true, expect him to not fall past this pick. Although the Lakers had reportedly promised Mitchell Robinson earlier in the draft process, and also were rumored to be interested in trading up for Zharie Smith recently, this rumor seems like the most likely one to actually be true and realistic for the Lakers. Kevin Huerter should develop into a contributing player at the next level and will be an instant candidate for the NBA three point shooting contest, once he finds his place in a team’s rotation. We will not see much of him this summer, but expect him to find his niche during the regular season.
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