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NBA Draft Prospect Review: Jalen Hood-Schifino

Ryan Hinske

Credit: HN photo/Max Wood

Remember when TyTy Washington was the best true point guard in last year’s draft? He

was taken 29th. Jalen Hood-Schifino might not even be in the top five of this year’s point guard

class, but he could still be a franchise player, and he’s definitely worthy of a lottery pick.

The 6'6", 215 pound freshman from Pittsburgh is deceivingly large. I have

written about Anthony Black’s size being comparable to the “big guard” movement that we are

seeing. Hood-Schifino is big, but he plays like he’s 3 inches shorter, which makes him all the

more dangerous.

At Indiana, Hood–Schifino was once in the shadow of Trayce Jackson-Davis, but the

switch has flipped, especially among NBA scouts. Jackson-Davis is a great college player, but

Hood-Schifino is a player that has the potential to translate his game to the big leagues with

ease.

In 32 games, Hood-Schifino played 33 minutes per game, averaging 13.5 points and 3.7

assists. He also snagged 4 rebounds per contest and shot a solid 41.7% from the field and

33.3% from deep on just 3.5 attempts per game. It is his mid-range/floater/runner/dump-off/lob

game that makes Hood-Schifino so dangerous.

What stands out most to fans of Hood-Schifino’s game is his tempo. He always keeps

his eyes up, ready to make the right pass, but at the same time, he operates with his

methodical handle, looking to get the defender on his back so that he can draw fouls. He is always under control, feeling his defender at all times so that he’s ready to draw contact, and if

he has space, he will just take the jumper. Although his free throw percentage was only 77.6%

(below-average for a guard), this way of operating the offense will translate extremely well to the

NBA.

Hood-Schifino is always looking for gaps in the defense, even off-ball. In their matchup

against Purdue near the end of the regular season, he had a floater that didn’t go, waited to see

where the ball was going to go before the rebound, saw a gap between the rebounder and the

basket, shot in to snag the ball, and put it back up and in while getting fouled. He sees the

defense so well; when he’s hedged, he just backs up and resets the play. When the roller’s man

drops, he begins his routine slow drive towards the rim and into his push shot.

He’s good in transition, beating fastbreaks with his change of speed, going from his

methodical approach to a quick burst in no time. There was a play against Purdue where he had

the ball in a 3-on-2 fastbreak, passed it to a shooter, and then ran over to set a screen so that

the shooter had space behind the line. This proficiency with the ball is also displayed by his

ability to understand what the pace of the game should be. He pushes the pace at the right

times and elects to slow down the pace at the right times.

Hood-Schifino has a confident jump shot, and most of the time, he steps into it. This isn’t

ideal for deep shots, but for mid-range jump shots, it’s perfect. It means he can operate in the

pick-and-roll, weave his way closer to the basket, and pull up for any shot in any location with

minimal hesitation. Conversely, his mid-range shot is almost unguardable when he’s fading

away, so he really has options when it comes to picking his way towards the basket. He isn’t a

great finisher, but because defenders can’t ignore his shooting ability at 6-foot-6-inches, he can

pull a quick up-fake and create space around the basket.

He uses his skills to create opportunities for his teammates. He’s so good in set plays,

turning simple pick-and-rolls into cross-court dots to shooters. He gets to his spots, but also

knows his teammates’ spots, and you could tell that the rest of the stacked Indiana roster had

no problem running the show through Hood-Schifino’s hands.

He doesn’t appear to have an incredible passing IQ until you watch clips of Steve Nash

making the types of passes Hood-Schifino attempts. Although I do not believe he will ever be

the passer that Nash was, Hood-Schifino has the right idea but growing pains as a 19-year-old.

Still, he makes some of them and has mind-bending vision.

Hood-Schifino really has some defensive issues. He focuses on the ball-handler too

often, losing his man and giving up easy baskets. It’s ok to pay some attention to the ball-

handler, but Hood-Schifino rarely plays help defense, so it would be better for him to focus on

his own man rather than getting caught sleeping. He is a good communicator on defense, which

helps make up for what he lacks defensively. It’s also important to remember that he is very tall

for a guard. Add on his athleticism and understanding of the game and NBA teams should feel

better about his defense in the future.

Credit: Noah Graham/Getty Images

Jalen Hood-Schifino reminds me a lot of Golden State Warriors-era D’Angelo Russell in

the sense that they are both larger guards who have great perimeter jump shots but prefer

getting to their mid-range shots and push shots. D-Lo was more spry than Hood-Schifino, but

both of them had the same goal: slowly operate towards the basket until there is an opening in

either the shot or the pass. I also see similarities in the way they play defense; neither are even

average defensively, but they both talk the most, making sure their teammates are in the right

spots.

Overall, Jalen Hood-Schifino has potential to be a starting point guard for a very good

team, and I see his floor as somewhat of a Tyus Jones-like role (high-level backup point guard).

He’s a low-end lottery pick, and I assert that he should be taken between picks nine and 15.


To learn more about Jalen Hood-Schifino, the rest of the 2023 draft class and the

future of the NBA, tune in to NBA Tomorrow on Radio DePaul Sports every Tuesday at

1:30 PM Central.

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