DOB: 2/6/1996 (19 years old)
Position: Power Forward
Playing Style: Defense, boards and jumpers
Height w/ Shoes: 6' 9.25"
Weight: 222 lbs
Wingspan: 7' 3.5"
Standing Reach: 9' 2"
DraftExpress: 20th (Toronto)
NBADraft.net: 23rd (Portland)
Sports Illustrated: 25th (Memphis)
USA Today: 23rd (Portland)
Another raw one-and-done teenager, Kevon Looney is a difficult prospect to nail down. While he showed ability in many different areas during his lone season at UCLA, do any of his skills stand out enough to translate to a successful NBA career?
Read on as I try to wrangle Looney's slippery skillset.
If Looney has an NBA skill at this point, it's rebounding. At UCLA he used his combination of length and hustle to terrorize the boards, pulling down 11.4 rebounds per 40 minutes (4.2 offensive). Aside from his physical tools, he has an obvious instinct for tracking down the ball, always keeping his head up and his feet moving when angling for position. Solid fundamentals helped to, as Looney showed an excellent ability to keep his body low while boxing out, and then using his length to spring up for the carom.
Put simply, he's a natural on the glass.
He excels defensively as well, again using a combination of length and fundamentals to bother shots everywhere from the rim out the 3-point line. While not an athletic marvel, he is nimble enough to contain dribble penetration and was very active in the passing lanes, snatching 1.6 steals per 40 minutes.
Offensively, he as potential as a floor-stretcher, hitting 43.1% of his threes on 1.5 attempts per game. His release is smooth and figures to extend to NBA range, although it takes a while for him to gather and rise. While he isn't exactly a gazelle, he is swift enough to be a threat in transition and can handle the rock in the open court exceptionally well for a big man, going as far as flashing a behind-the-back dribble, a crossover or even a eurostep from time to time.
Looney's biggest struggle at this point is finding a way to score in the halfcourt aside from spotup jumpers. He lacks the quickness or creativity to score in isolation situations, and his jumper all but abandons him off the dribble (5-21). He has no post game to speak of, and struggles mightily to score inside against long defenders such as himself.
Since the NBA is full of longer defenders than he encountered at UCLA, his offense in the NBA might relegated to stretch-4 duties, although his slow release casts doubt even on that.
His lithe frame and narrow waist also results in him getting pushed around in the paint quite a bit, which will impact his rebounding ability at the next level. There are also some eye-test reports of him tiring easily, routinely tugging at his shorts as the game goes on. His drop in production during the second half of the season underscores this concern.
If the mocks are any indication, his stock has slipped from the late teens to the early-to-mid twenties since workouts began. Whether this is simply a case of other players' stocks improving or a result of the murmurs about Looney's conditioning is anyone's guess at this point.
Fit on the Suns
Looney would be a significant reach at 13, but if the Suns decide to take a future asset to trade down into the twenties, perhaps the Suns would enlist him as a project at backup power forward. Defense, rebounding and spotup shooting are always welcome additions, and his limitations in the post shouldn't be a deal-breaker in a league where post play is become more and more antiquated.
However, his lack of scoring ability would seem to make it quite unlikely that he'll progress beyond being a role player among NBA power forwards.
My two cents: if the Suns are going to trade down for a PF prospect, go with more upside and make it Christian Wood. Or the more exciting Montrezl Harrell. Or perhaps the more versatile Trey Lyles. It's really tough to make a good case for Looney in this power forward-rich draft class.