In today’s NBA where shooting has become prioritized across all positions, Kevin Huerter was someone who would attract tons of attention at this year’s NBA Draft Combine. After being one of the biggest winners from Day 1, Huerter sat out and rumor has it he has guarantees from possibly Utah (No. 21) and or Los Angeles Lakers (No. 25).
Even though the Phoenix Suns have Devin Booker and even Troy Daniels, they were still one of the worst overall performers from beyond the arc. Dragan Bender showed promise there but T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, and Marquese Chriss all were way below average shooters.
That’s where Huerter comes into play at possibly No. 16 on draft night. Following his sophomore season hitting 40.1% on 3s, he’s the ideal player to help space the floor for Booker offensively.
When diving further in on Huerter’s advanced stats, he’s one of only six first round prospects (Aaron Holiday and Landry Shamet also fit into this but weren’t included) to carry a true shooting percentage above 60, assistant percentage above 20, offensive win shares at 3 or above, and shoot +40% on 3s. Those names included alongside Huerter are Jimmer Fredette, Reggie Jackson, Damian Lillard, Denzel Valentine, and Lonzo Ball.
Huerter’s archetype on offense places him with the likes of Kyle Korver and Klay Thompson who consistently run off screens and create havoc. Ironically, in Igor Kokoskov’s offense, Huerter fits right into that role as Booker’s backup who can also be an ideal perimeter weapon to help build a second unit around Warren.
Plenty of times when I watched Maryland games when they were on the road, Huerter would hit one from Stephen Curry range and deflate the crowd instantly. He’s tailor-made for the so-called modern NBA, so lets dive into why alongside his possible hindrances.
As I mentioned previously, Huerter’s shooting profile is absolutely elite. Per the go-to draft website, The Stepien, their shot charts showed the now former Maryland Terrapin hitting 46.6% of his corner 3s, 73.3% at the rim, 48% from mid-range, and 39.8% overall from NBA 3s.
Huerter will bring instant relief to any team’s offense because he’s versatile enough where he’s not just a spot-up threat. He can create looks for himself off of cuts while also usually always hitting his teammates in the right spot (+1.25 AST/TO). Speaking of his cutting ability, that’s where Huerter could be underrated at because that’s most of his offense outside of hitting 3s, which led to him shooting +50% from the field.
Huerter also has some secondary playmaker upside in his profile because in motion offenses he’s someone who won’t be prone to making many turnovers, unless he’s isolated on length. With the aforementioned 20.3 AST%, Huerter could be someone who can make read plays off screens towards cutters himself or across court zips that are also available for him.
During his sophomore season, Huerter averaged 15.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per 36 minutes. Whenever you can shoot above 40 and 50 percent on three-pointers and overall field goal attempts, respectively, you are going to be billed as someone with immense perimeter offense upside.
Huerter has three-level scoring ability and that will also play a role in how high he eventually goes on draft night. Also, with his size at 6’7”, Huerter is capable enough on defense to switch and stick with some wings.
After diving in further on Huerter’s game over the past week or so, there’s plenty to fall in love with in terms of his NBA skill set. His floor is high and will be someone who instantly is inserted into rotations because his archetype is too valuable, especially when there’s creation upside alongside it.
As with many shooter types in drafts pigeonholed into one aspect, Huerter’s lack of athleticism, especially on first-step drives, is concerning. However, if he’s allowed to be someone who is given the green light consistently and becomes proficient off screens, he’s the ideal flamethrower to be given 15-25 minutes per game.
Another area to watch out for is part of the domino effect off having a bad first step, which is separation off defenders. If he’s going against Robert Covington, I have a hard time seeing how he’s able to score at this point in his development because he’s just not fast enough to get his shot off in close confines.
Possessing only a 6’7.5” wingspan (+.5” H2W), Huerter does have overall physical tool deterrents. This could lead to him only being able to shine in limited roles early, because teams will try to test Huerter with his lack of length and overall quick-twitch athleticism.
What could hold back the possibilities of Huerter having higher creation upside is his lack of handle. It’s not as polished right now as it should be, but with proper players development it shouldn’t be below average because Huerter brings high IQ basketball to the table anyways.
In an NBA program, Huerter’s concerns should fade away into the background, but his lower outcomes could lead to him being a one dimensional player who’s inconsistent with ball handling. That’s his absolute floor, but still his impressive shooting profile across the board shows he’s someone who will at least contribute on a night-in, night-out basis.
Physical Profile Overview
Standing Reach: 8’5.5”
Fit in Phoenix
If the Suns were to select Huerter at No. 16 — I personally believe there’s no chance he’s there at No. 31 — it would be to help surround Booker with optimal spacing and another weapon he can trust to hit out of drive-and-kick opportunities. Huerter is also versatile enough from multiple levels offensively where he can bring positive shooting touch and efficiency.
With comparisons recently to James Harden from national media and NBA executives alike — and Jay Triano experimenting was actually due to those eerie similarities — Booker could be developed even further down that path with help from someone like Huerter. Hitting his corner 3s at an absolute absurd rate above 45%, he’s going to open up plenty of opportunities for Phoenix’s offensive attack.
Huerter within the confines of Kokoskov’s offense sets him up as one of the better player-team fits in this draft. In Kokoskov’s heavy motion offense system, Huerter’s weaknesses would be dimmed but his strengths would shine. More often than not, Kokoskov’s offense will allow plenty of open looks for Huerter, Booker, and other shooters to feast off of.
This pick wouldn’t be considered a reach in my book, because Huerter grades within my top 25. After you get outside the lottery, fit usually factors in more heavily and Huerter alongside someone like De’Anthony Melton from pure-defense viewpoints stand out as far as archetypes the Suns could target with their second first round pick.
Going down the route of selecting Deandre Ayton at No. 1, placing him next to someone with sharpshooter upside in Huerter makes plenty of sense to me.
Big Board: No. 22
Comparison: Ceiling - Kyle Korver / Floor - Troy Daniels