The going belief among Magic fans right now — the belief that seems to make the most sense, at least — is that if the Magic go with a point guard with their first pick, their second lottery pick will be spent on a shooter. That is something the Magic are desperately lacking. There are not a ton of pure, knock-down shooters in this Draft but certainly some athletic wings with range. That should make the teams in the late lottery very happy.
It is just picking which one?
Why pick Rodney Hood over James Young? Why pick Doug McDermott over Nik Stauskas?
Let us begin answering that question in earnest. It is easy to confuse some of these players as they have very similar skill sets. We start with Duke’s Rodney Hood.
Jabari Parker rightfully took much of the headlines at Duke. The guy is an extremely gifted all around player and a worthy top-two pick. That Duke team did not earn a three seed on Parker alone (although maybe he could have used more help to get by 14th-seeded Mercer).
Hood was the marksman of that team. Maybe he could have been more if he stayed at Duke past his sophomore year and got out of the shadow of the uber-talented players like Parker. Then again, he did not earn that or do that at Duke. He was happy fitting a role and doing what his team needed. That is valuable too.
This guy though is not a spot-up shooter or at least a typical one. He has some strength and athleticism and could be used as a slasher. Last year at Duke, he averaged 16.4 points per game whiles hooting 47.0 percent from the floor and 42.0 percent from beyond the arc. This is a player with a ton of versatility and ability to do multiple things on the basketball court.
That is something the Magic really value. Versatility is a nice thing to have in any player. Hood seemed to fit whatever was needed from him at Duke. He is not going to provide a whole lot more statistically than on offense and he seems to have that Duke basketball smarts.
The Good: Hood is an offensive player and is able to score in multiple ways. He is a solid shooter and does a decent job finishing at the rim when he gets there. Again, that kind of offensive versatility is what you want from a shooter in the league now. When things get tough in the Playoffs, it is going to be easy to choke off the pure spot-up shooters. While Hood should have a solid field goal percentage, it is what he can do besides shooting that will earn him a solid spot in the pros. When you watch highlights of him you see someone that is more athletic than your typical 3-and-D guy. Hood will have to prove he can do all of this at the next level, but he seems to have the tools to get there.
The Bad: If you draft Hood, it right now looks like all you are getting is a guy who can contribute in the scoring column and that is about it. He was not a stat-sheet stuffer in college and he mainly contributed by scoring. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but defenses are better at the NBA level. The 3-point line is also farther away and Hood is not a pure shooter, so to speak, so he fits that dreaded “Jack of all trades, master of none” category. Except, he is not really a Jack of all trades. He does some things very well, but not anywhere near an elite level. There are questions whether all those skills will translate to the NBA level. He has to put some more muscle on and become a much more fluid driver. He cannot rely on his shooting alone.
Draft Sites Say:
NBADraft.net: Solid athlete and left handed wing scorer that can score from all three levels … Really strong shooter from both the outside and midrange, stretches the floor … First step is strong and can take defenders off of the dribble . . . Though he has worked on his body, he still has a slight frame and needs to add upper body strength, which would allow him to play tougher … Vast majority of offense comes as a shooter, definitely affected by lack of girth in his hesitation to drive … Not a great rebounder, which again points to strength.
DraftExpress: Rodney Hood ranks as the highest usage and most efficient pick and roll ball handler [among small forwards]. His 1.26 points per possessions on 2.2 possessions per-game are the result of his very good overall shooting numbers. He scored a 2nd ranked 1.11 points per-pull-up jump shot and above average 1.29 points per shot around the rim. While Hood is not a tremendous athlete, and got to the rim on a well below average 23.3% of his shots in the half court last season, his ability to score efficiently from the outside should give him a chance to make an impact early in his career in some capacity.
Jeremy Wood, Point Forward: A big, smooth wing who can score from all over the court, Hood is one of the better scorers in this class. The lanky lefty hit threes at a prolific clip last season and his shooting should translate at the NBA level. He played somewhat in the shadow of Parker at Duke but took advantage of his opportunities, playing under control, limiting turnovers and making smart plays. Hood’s an intriguing piece that should provide some immediate help by spreading the floor with room to grow down the road.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Hood went from Mississippi State to sitting out last season as a transfer to pushing into lottery contention as a catch-and-shoot specialist with 3-point range. The 42 percent from behind the arc and 80.7 percent on free throws draws attention.
NBA Draft Room: A very well rounded and talented offensive player who can score in bunches. Has an accurate three point shot with great elevation and form on his jumper. Very good off the bounce and shows good body control when finishing in the lane. Can elevate well and throw down some nasty dunks.
Final Word: Hood is a very interesting prospect. He only played one year of college basketball and had a very strong showing. He can do a lot of things offensively including shoot the ball and drive. He is not extremely adept at those and probably could have used a year more at Duke as “the man” to show scouts what he really can do. I do not know if he would have been able to fill that role. What he is good at though is putting the ball in the basket. And that always has value. We just have to see if he can expand his range and translate it to the next level.