The NBA Draft Blog Scouting reports move down to the SEC today as I take a look at a player who has been extremely instrumental in Tennessee’s fast start to this season among a plethora of distractions – Scotty Hopson. Hopson is a big guard, who will be able to play and guard either shooting guards or small forwards at the professional level. The question though, how close is he to being ready for the NBA? Let’s take a look:
Scotty Hopson, Tennessee – Junior
Guard- 6’7, 205
17.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 apg, 49.4% FG, 71.8% FT, 40.7% 3FG
Perimeter Shooting- Hopson has shown great form on his jumper – especially with his release. However, his big problem on the perimeter comes from shot selection, especially knowing when to not settle for the three-point shot or a contested mid-range or long-range shot. Over the last year, he has gotten much better at creating space for himself to get off his shot, though when he does this, he never really gets himself square to the basket before he takes the shot. He has great size for a guard and should be able to exploit most match-ups, though he is really only learning to be more aggressive when he has the ball. Off the ball, he does a very good job trying to get open, and has become much improved using screens correctly to get his shot.
Ballhandling/Hands/Penetration- While Hopson will never be mistaken for a point guard, he does handle the ball well, can help bring the ball up against pressure and is comfortable using both hands and dribbling at different speeds. He has become much more comfortable looking to get to the basket, though it is something he needs to do more of. His size helps him get to the rim, though he could still add a bit more muscle to his frame to finish stronger. He is still learning how to get his shot off in traffic – whether to stop and shoot a short jumper or try and draw contact, and a lot of this comes from his difficulty recognizing when the help defender is stepping into position. He also needs to work more on attacking the basket from the left side, as he tends to try and force everything to the right side.
Rebounding/Passing- Hopson does not provide much in the way of offensive rebounding, though he should be effective when he does crash the glass given his size and wingspan. However, his penchant for hanging around the perimeter usually leaves him out of position for offensive boards. Hopson sees the court well, though he often makes the mistake of trying to force the difficult pass instead of choosing his best option. He does use his size well on the perimeter when passing, getting the ball over the top of defenders. He has shown some skill in passing off of penetration, though his decision-making still needs to improve, especially when he draws the help defender, he needs to recognize the help rotation better to find an open teammate.
Free Throw Shooting – Hopson is an average free throw shooter, though now that he is looking to get to the rim more, he is getting to the line a lot more frequently than in his first 2 seasons. One flaw I do see in his free throw shooting is a tendency to rush his shot once he steps to the line.
Perimeter Defense- This may be Hopson’s biggest weakness. He is not a great on-ball defender, relying on reaching and chasing. He is a good athlete and has good instincts, but they can’t always bail him out against quicker assignments. He has a large wingspan and this does help him keep his man in front of him, while also helping disrupt passing lanes. He is a good help defender, though he is sometimes too anxious to double team and loses his man. He works through screens well, though he still has trouble going under screens against good shooters.
Rebounding- As on the offensive glass, Hopson doesn’t contribute much as a rebounder, especially for his size. He does have good instincts for the ball and he boxes out well, but his reaction time could be improved.
Hopson works well in the open court, with good speed and excellent leaping ability. While he can push the ball up the court, he is much better on the wings and attacking the basket. One area he could improve is his ability to pull up for a jumper on the break. Defensively, he gets back well against the break and does what he can to contest shots.
Summary & Intangibles
Athleticism - High
BB IQ – Above Average
Hopson has shown a lot of improvement since his freshman season, adding a lot more variety to his offensive game while working hard to assert himself as a team leader and go-to player. However, his defensive ability is still holding him back from being as good a player as he could become. He also needs to become much more careful with the ball and selective with his shots. That being said, he has very good instincts, continues to improve and is a very good athlete. If he was to come out this season, he could be picked anywhere from the early to mid-second round. If he improves at the same rate over this and next season, and commits to becoming a better defensive player, he has the potential to move into late first round in 2012.
Make sure to check back later today for a look at a player who helped his team beat Hopson’s Tennessee team, Oakland’s big man Keith Benson. Remember, leave any comments below, follow me on Twitter – @NBADraftBlog, or feel free to email me at the link up top.