Buckets. Sometimes the game just needs to be made simply. If you can shoot, chances are, you’ll have an NBA career. Can’t play defense? That’s fine. Just hit your three-point bombs and you can still make an NBA squad.
Rodney Hood has come a long way since his short tenure at Mississippi State. Towards the end of the NCAA season, a controversial no-call at the Duke vs. Syracuse game had fans questioning Rodney Hood’s game. Was he really fouled? Did he blow the dunk?
That part doesn’t matter. What does matter is, Rodney Hood can shoot. He is mostly a straight-line driver when attacking the basket. Sometimes he uses a change of direction to get to the hoop. However, his jumpshot is a work of art. He has a high release point, a quick release, no hitch, and the ball flies out with the proper follow through. He shot well over 42% behind the NCAA 3-point line on nearly 5 attempts per game. He improved his ability to pull-up off-the-dribble and nearly match his efficiency with spot-up jumpshots. His ability to finish in the painted area is above 60%. Clearly, he’s comfortable putting up points in the simplest of ways, and that his Rodney Hood’s NBA talent.
In terms of size, he was surprisingly average at the small forward spot. Standing over 6’7″ without shoes with a 6’8.5″ wingspan and over 200lbs., there’s nothing really remarkable about his size. He compares similarly to fellow draft prospect Cleanthony Early of Wichita State. The wingspan can be considered a red flag, especially when guys like Marcus Smart and Dante Exum match his wingspan, but are considerably shorter. However, one player comes close in terms of size and skill level, and that player is Klay Thompson. Thompson is listed at 6’5.75″ without shoes with a 6’9″ wingspan. Both players have close standing reach results at 8’7″ and 8’7.5″, respectively. Both players are well known for their perimeter shooting abilities and quick release, with question marks based around defense and athletic ability.
Rodney Hood needs to work on a few things. While his jumpshot is NBA ready, his defense is not. Duke tried to hide him on defense. He didn’t have the lateral persistence, the strength, or the focus to shut down average offensive wing players. Getting into proper defensive stance is an easy fix. Getting players to do that for an entire game and chase down elite NBA wings? That’s a different challenge altogether. Still, while his game may remind NBA fans of Michael Redd and Klay Thompson, he has the ability to be just as good, if not, better than both. He has shown aggression at the basket, strong vertical ability, and lateral movement to keep up with wings. Rebounding, steals, and blocked shots are considered average at best, but that didn’t stop Klay Thompson from being a solid defender at the NBA level as well.
Rodney Hood’s secret isn’t just the jumpshot. It is his offensive hoop IQ. He has an assist-to-turnover ratio well above 1:1. He is unselfish, has solid court-vision in pick and roll situations, and a very low turnover rate. That’s the kind of player that makes the best of the offensive possessions. Not only does he put points on the board, but he doesn’t make many mistakes on the offensive end. His decision-making is sound, and he doesn’t play out of control. Can’t finish with a powerful dunk? He’s got a 5′ floater. Deny him on the drive to the hoop? He can pull up off the dribble. Deny him going left? Well, he’ll end up going left still, but create a high percentage shot anyway.
The Lakers are playing it safe when it comes to the lottery pick. It is possible the Lakers end up at pick #9. If that’s the case, the Lakers need to cover their bases. Why not get a guy near NBA ready? Rodney Hood is that kind of guy. Some may think it’s a reach for him to be in the lottery. Klay Thompson is a splash brother. A scorer that good belongs in the lottery. So, why can’t Rodney Hood?