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NBA Draft Prospect Review: Keyonte George

Ryan Hinske

Credit: Sports Illustrated

Projected lottery pick Keyonte George, the 6'9", 185 pound freshman guard at Baylor,

boosted his draft stock at the end of February after back-to-back 20-point performances against

5th ranked Kansas and 14th ranked Kansas State. George is averaging (per 40 minutes) 22.2

points on 17.8 attempts, 3.9 assists, and 5.9 rebounds, and he is shooting 38.9% and 34.9%

from 3. He's a 79.4% free throw shooter per 40 minutes, and he commits 4.1 turnovers in that

frame. He is 2nd in the Big 12 in percentage of shots taken, which is the share of the team’s

total shots that a player takes when they’re on the court (30.3%). He is 25th in the BIG 12 in true

shooting, 18th in assist rate, 4th in fouls drawn per 40, and 19th in 3pt%. He's also 20th in FT%.

The first thing that jumps out to me is George's smooth and consistent jump shot. Yes,

he has some games where his shot isn't falling, but this season, he has been shooting

consistently around the 35-40% range. It's a good sign to see that he's not too streaky; it gives

NBA teams a sense that he is in tune with his jumpshot. His catch-and-shoot ability is especially

encouraging, as he always swings his hips in the right direction and gets his shoulders squared

to the basket, even off of difficult catches. He understands his spots as well, and always seems

to get to them consistently and release his long-range shots comfortably.

Keyonte has also shown willingness to make the extra pass, usually making the right

decision between shooting and passing. He can also mold his shot into a pass at an NBA level.

Although he lacks NBA-level driving burst, he can convert some pretty difficult layups and close

shots, using his elusiveness, strength and ability to dribble and finish with either hand rather

than using a traditional guard's agility, speed, and jumping ability. He has a nice dribble

package, but he just can't get around guys like most high-level slashing guards can. However,

he makes up for his lack of speed by playmaking while driving (picture Luka Doncic using his

vision to make up for his lack of athleticism). He does have a negative assist-to-turnover ratio,

but the signs are there for him to be a good playmaker in terms of extra passes and kicks. I don't expect many brilliant skip passes or no-look dishes in the big leagues, but he's not going

to stagnate an offense with his lack of passing.

George doesn't have good touch on floaters and push shots, limiting his full package as

an all-around scorer. Because he is spaced out so often, he has not shown great signs as a

cutter, which may continue in the NBA. Most signs point to him being more of a limited

perimeter player offensively, at least at first, in the NBA.

Source: Baylor Athletics

Defensively, George doesn't move great for a guard defender. He is often caught flat-

footed, especially off-ball, where he has a tendency to relax his feet and positioning. He really

doesn't turn his hips well, often losing control of his body when adjusting to crossovers. He does

have good positioning in passing lanes, but can commit too much to steals and give up layups

as a result (such as the nature of those types of defenders). Overall, I see him as a below

average NBA defender with an average NBA defender ceiling. I mean, any 6'9"guy with a sturdy

frame like George has potential to figure out his defensive game.

Keyonte George’s floor is Eric Gordon, and at least in play style, this makes sense. Let's not forget that Gordon scored 20 points per 36 minutes 5 times, as well as shooting a blistering

45% from 3 in the 2014-15 season with the Pelicans. He's always been a sturdy guard who

could create his own shot, but with his dribble moves and shot form rather than athleticism. I

think Eric Gordon is a reasonable floor for Keyonte George; a solid starter who can shoot, get a

bucket, make the extra pass, but comes up short defensively and athletically. However, I think

George will end up at a higher level than Gordon because of his craftiness and strength. He's

such a natural scorer even without the elite first step and blow-by capability, but he's just so

crafty and smart while operating with the ball.

Credit: AP

This leads me to George's ceiling: Bradley Beal. From 2017-2021, Beal averaged (per

36 minutes) 26.7 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 turnovers, and shot 47% on 20 shots with a

36% clip from downtown. In those 4 seasons, Beal made 3 all-star teams. Also standing at 6'4",

Beal never had the blow-by speed that his running-mate John Wall possessed, but he didn't need athleticism to score at an elite level, methodically slicing his way to the rim with an array of

spin moves and hesitations. He could hit a drifting 3 like no other, and he could make the right

pass if necessary. A negative on defense (117 defensive rating 3 of the last 4 years), Beal was

still an all-star level player, but he never led a winning team. Sure, he could have been the best

2nd man in the league back in the late 2010's (especially had he joined Jokic in Denver), but he could never carry the load of his team like Dame and Steph could and still can. This is where I

see George's ceiling. I do not believe he will ever be able to score at the volume and efficiency

of a Luka, Dame, Steph, or even Trae, but as a slashing, shooting 2 guard, he could attend

multiple all-star games and maybe even find himself in Hall of Fame conversations at his peak.

It may take years, but make no mistake: Keyonte George will be a regular in the highlight reels

of the late-2020’s.

To learn more about Keyonte George, 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

12:00 PM Central.

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