5. Shamorie Ponds
College basketball fans know Shamorie Ponds as the be-all and end-all for the St. John’s Red Storm, but he won’t have nearly that large of a role in the NBA.
His alpha scoring mentality is both a blessing and a curse; he can get scorching hot and take his team’s offense to new heights, but he can also crater it with horrendous shot selection. In order to stick around at the next level, he will need to be more calculated.
To be fair, it’s possible he was thrust into that role out of necessity. At the NBA level he’ll rarely have to ascend that high in the pecking order, mainly because he’s too small to hang for major minutes. At 6’0.5″, he’ll get targeted by good offensive teams.
As a backup spark plug, he could be a valuable piece. He’s a solid shooter, knocking down 35.3 percent of his 3s and 83.6 percent of his free throws last season. The latter is typically more indicative of shooting prowess than the former when it comes to draft prospects, and with a career free throw percentage of 84.0 at SJU, Ponds has a significant body of work.
As his team’s main initiator, Ponds did a good job in the pick-and-roll, which will be a huge part of his diet early on. Despite being undersized, he gets to his spots well and isn’t afraid to weave through trees around the rim.
His career will be dictated by shot selection. If Ponds can rein it in and make the right plays as necessary, his coach will give him more artistic license over time. Brett Brown might lose sleep early in the season as questionable shots go up, but a guy who can operate on or off the ball could be monumental in relieving the stars as the 82-plus-game season unfolds.