The NBA Draft Blog Scouting Report takes a look at a player with a lot of natural ability who can breakout in his senior year – Ohio State’s William Buford. The Buckeyes have had a lot of talent during his time with the team, but now it’s his turn to be the leader. David Lighty and Jon Diebler are gone, and Jared Sullinger will still hold down the post. But can Buford take that big step into a primary threat, or will he settle back into a role position? Let’s take a closer look at William Buford:
William Buford, Ohio State – Senior
Guard - 6’5, 205
(2010-11 Stats) 14.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, 46.1% FG, 84.3% FT, 44.2% 3FG
Perimeter Shooting- Buford has turned into a reliable long-range shooter, though some minor flaws in his shot have made it difficult to be as consistent as a mid-range shooter as he can be. His biggest problem is as he looks to find room to get his shot off, he tends to let his body drift. He also has some issues with rushing his shot, most likely because his release point should be higher. Other than that, he gets great lift from his legs and good rotation on his shot. He has also become much better at using screens to get open. Again, the small issue of drifting as he catches the ball and puts up the shot. He also does a very good job using his dribble and ball-fakes to create room for his shot.
Ballhandling/Hands/Penetration- Buford handles the ball well with either hand and has done a great job adding change-of-pace dribbles to his repertoire. The one thing he needs to watch for is a tendency to lose focus, even for a second. He has a great awareness on the court, but it seems like he is trying to see too many things at one time. Penetration could be a strong part of his game, but he needs to become more aggressive. He has a good first step, uses his body well to create space and has decent explosiveness. He just needs to look to attack the basket more instead of settling for jumpers. Once he gets into the lane, he has to finish strong and not shy away from contact. He is a good option when he handles the ball on the pick and roll, as long as he keeps the ball. He uses screens well to get his own shot, but as I discuss below, he is not great passing off the screen.
Rebounding/Passing- Buford does a good job crashing the offensive boards, when he looks to do it. Because the majority of his shooting is done from the perimeter, he doesn’t get many opportunities to get in the mix. He is very good at anticipating misses and can get to them quickly if they are within range. He is also very good at making smart decisions once he secures the rebound. Hopefully, if he looks to get to the rim more, his involvement on the boards will increase. He can also be a very good passer, seeing the floor well, and doing a good job hitting cutters and post men. The main area he needs to improve is making smart decision on passes off of pick and roll situations, where he tends to try and force the ball instead of waiting for the opening.
Free Throw Shooting – Buford is a very good free throw shooter with consistent form, and obviously not the problems he has with his body drifting while shooting. His problem, which is highlighted above, is that he doesn’t look to go to the basket enough, thus he doesn’t get many free throw opportunities. With Sullinger clearing out space in the lane, Buford will need to take advantage and go strong at the rim and draw the contact. He should be able to get to the line 6-8 times per game, rather than 4.
Perimeter Defense- Buford has the ability to be a very good defender. He positions himself well, keeps his feet and hands active and has good awareness. He needs to have a better understanding of the man he is guarding and know his tendencies. There are many instances where he does a great job when his man first gets the ball, but then starts to overplay in one direction and gets beat. He does do a very good job recovering if he gets beat, but he has the ability to not let this happen too often. He is very good getting through screens – he uses his body well to get over or under, and knows when to recognize when he needs to switch. He is also very good at closing on shooters – getting out quickly and doing a great job extending his arms to try and alter any shot.
Rebounding- Buford rebounds well just off of his athletic ability to get to balls quickly. He doe need to improve on blocking out if he wants to rebound at the NBA level where there are many similar athletes. He can get to balls quickly and with some added strength, he could be a good rebounder out of the backcourt.
Buford does a great job running the floor in transition – he fills lanes well and can push the ball up the court. However, as he does in the halfcourt, he settles too often for long jumpers instead of taking the ball strong to the basket. When he pushes the ball on the break, he needs to do a better job drawing the defense to open up the wings, but he does see the floor well and makes good passes when he does draw the defense.
Summary & Intangibles
Athleticism – High
BB IQ – Above Average
Buford has a lot of ability, he just needs to make some minor adjustments to differentiate him from a second round pick fighting for a roster spot, and a late first round guy who can play some decent minutes right away. He has the ability to extend defenses with his shooting ability, and he is athletic enough to take the ball to the rim, he just needs to become more aggressive. Hopefully, with Lighty and Diebler gone, Buford will start to add some of the wrinkles they brought to the Buckeyes and make himself a more complete player. If he does this, there is no reason he can’t be picked in the last 10 picks of the 1st round.