Theo Pinson – North Carolina
Weight: 188 lbs
Age/Birthday: 22 (11/5/95)
Hometown: Greensboro, NC
High School: Wesleyan Christian Academy
(Grant Kobrin – 3/23/18)
Theo Pinson has been a solid role player for North Carolina over his four year career under Coach Roy Williams. He struggled with various injuries throughout his collegiate career, but that seems to all be in the past for Theo Pinson. He was a key bench player on the 2016 team that lost to Villanova on a buzzer beater in the national championship, and he was a starting wing for the North Carolina team that defeated Gonzaga in last year’s national championship. Unfortunately, his collegiate career ended in a blowout loss in the second round of this year’s NCAA tournament to a lower-seeded Texas A&M team.
Theo Pinson came into North Carolina as a top 10 recruit in his high school class, but never seemed to really emerge into more than just a role player for North Carolina, due to obvious limitations in his offensive game. One thing to note is that Theo Pinson did seem to improve quite a bit each season, which is definitely good from a developmental standpoint. Four year players at UNC do progress quite a bit under Coach Roy Williams; this was seen through players in recent years such as Marcus Paige, Justin Jackson, and Joel Berry. Nevertheless, Theo Pinson will have a chance to prove himself to NBA scouts from now until when training camp begins, and may even find himself on the end of an NBA bench next season.
Strengths: Theo Pinson is an outstanding athlete which makes him a very versatile basketball player. He can play multiple positions and doesn’t really fit into the stereotypical “one position player”, but in the NBA he most likely will find himself playing mostly shooting guard. Additionally, he has decent size for a wing at 6’6”, but more importantly he has an enormous wingspan for his size at 6’11”. This wingspan, length, and overall athleticism makes him an exceptional defender. He is active while guarding the ball, but is even more of a threat in the passing lanes where he is able to cause turnovers at extremely high rates. He averaged less than one steal a game for most of his college career, which definitely does seem very low for the kind of defensive player that he is. He has a few areas he could improve on in this aspect of his game, but overall he has tremendous potential as a lockdown NBA perimeter defender. Theo Pinson is not very effective for the most part on the offensive end of the court. He does have great court vision though, which is definitely one of his greatest strengths. He can push the ball in transition and find the open man, or even make a great no-look pass in the halfcourt to find a big underneath the rim or an unguarded shooter behind the three point line. His ball handling definitely needs some work, but he is certainly very fast with the ball in his hands, while going in a straight line up the court. Lastly, Theo Pinson is a great wing in transition and can finish on the break when he is ahead of the pack. He is an explosive athlete and is a highlight machine when he is in transition.
Weaknesses: Theo Pinson has a few weaknesses on the defensive end. He gambles way too often both while guarding the ball and while playing off of the ball, which often leads to open shots from the other team or foul trouble on the big men on his team. Additionally, Theo Pinson doesn’t really seem to play much help defense and is too locked onto his assignment. This should be worked out through an NBA level defense though. The offensive end is where Theo Pinson really struggles. He doesn’t shoot the ball well at all and has very poor mechanics on his jump shot, which makes it very difficult for him to make a real impact on the offensive end of the court. Additionally, he is a weak ball-handler which significantly inhibits his ability to be a threat driving to the basket. He seems to show confidence as a ball handler in open space, but when he is being guarded tightly he puts his head down and can be very turnover prone. As a shooting guard in the NBA, Theo Pinson will need to provide more ball handling support than he needed to do at North Carolina. Pinson needs to be more assertive on the offensive end of the court, and needs to show scouts that he is more than just a defensive player. Way too often at UNC, Pinson would look to pass before even facing up to the basket and making himself somewhat of an offensive threat to defenders. This really weakens the potential of Theo Pinson as an NBA prospect due to the fact that the league is moving more towards an era where almost everyone needs to be able to shoot the basketball and be a threat to score on offense. Theo Pinson needs to become more of a well rounded player, as he has too many deficiencies in his game on offense.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: J.P. Tokoto
Theo Pinson looks very similar to former tarheel J.P. Tokoto. Both players are lockdown defenders, exceptionally athletic, and have limited offensive games. Tokoto decided to come out after his junior year at UNC which is something that Pinson explored after last year’s national championship. Pinson made the right decision by returning to UNC as he would not have had much of a chance at being drafted last year, and he needed to develop his game further under Roy Williams. Tokoto deciding to come out after his junior year really hurt his development as a basketball player, and is a primary reason why Tokoto never played a single game in the NBA after being the 58th pick in the second round in the 2015 NBA draft. Theo Pinson has an edge over J.P. Tokoto in the respect that he is older and at least is a little bit more developed on the offensive end of the court.
Theo Pinson most likely will go undrafted in this year’s draft due to the fact that he never really stood out as more than just a role player for North Carolina over his four year career. He is too much of a project for an NBA team to really consider drafting him, unless the pick is of course very late in the second round. Pinson will be invited to the summer league and should find himself in a team’s training camp next fall, where he will be competing for a roster spot on an NBA team. Theo Pinson has all of the physical tools to play in the NBA next season, but his lack of pure skills and fundamentals may prevent this from ever occurring.
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