The Sixers are officially in draft mode now that “woodergate” is over. In order for the team to come out of draft night feeling confident they’ll need to put in a lot of research on the players available later on. With the 26th pick in the first round the Sixers have the opportunity to take a player who can outperform their draft position, and a player like Kevin Huerter could be just that guy.
The Philadelphia 76ers need a player like Kevin Huerter on their team. Simply put, he can play. On offense he uses his length to rise over defenders or drive past them to get a shot up around the net. For someone with such a nice touch from the outside it is nice to see that Huerter isn’t married to the thought of being a three point shooter. At the University of Maryland he was the top option in the Terrapin offense, and because of the lack of weapons around him defenses often focused solely on him. Because of this Huerter had to become a player that was willing to crash the boards and play inside as well as using that smooth shot from outside. What separates Huerter from the rest of the players projected to be drafted around him is his sneaky athleticism. Huerter is 6’7” and 190 pounds, and needs to put on some muscle in order to have sustained success over an entire season, but what was seen in college is that he is able to use that lankiness to his benefit. His wingspan (6‘8“) doesn’t necessarily show it, but he often played much larger than he actually was, playing confident and rising up over defenders for both shots and rebounds every game, as shown by his 38.0 inch max vertical at the NBA Draft Combine.
This clip is the reason why I believe that Huerter will be an effective offensive player at the NBA level, with or without a three point shot. He uses his tight dribble to get to the lane, crossover, and rise up between two defenders for a tough basket. As he continues to work on his body he will be able to shed defenders more easily. The three point shot is there, that’s not of any concern, it is the rest of his offensive game that needs to be looked at before selecting him to make sure he’s not a one trick pony.
His offensive style reminds me a lot of Gordon Hayward coming into the league. Hayward was known for his strong jumper, but showed flashes of athleticism that made people believe he would grow into a complete player on the offensive side of the ball. Huerter is just that, his 41.7% from deep shows he can hit three pointers at a consistent clip, and his 60.5% from everywhere inside of that shows he can get free for a jumper or finish around the rim. Many see Huerter as just an off ball shooter but I see a player that hasn’t scratched the surface of what he can do. The hype around Kevin Huerter has been gaining steam for most of the offseason, and for good reason. He isn’t a finished product, but none of the players that are going late in the first round are. Huerter has potential to be a giant steal late in the first round, the offense is there and as long as he works on his body he could be a solid starter in the NBA very soon.
Because the weight isn’t there, Huerter has to rely too heavily on his speed in order to make plays on defense. The players he defends don’t blow by him, but they are able to get their shots off, often times by creating separation using physicality. Right now his defense is boom or bust, he can use that sneaky athleticism to make impact plays, but if he’s not making those impact plays then he is usually giving up a shot. What I really got out of watching Huerter on the defensive side of the ball is that he’s very raw. If a grade were to be given on this part of his game it would have to be incomplete because I don’t think we’ll know until he puts on some weight. The upside is there for him to be an impact player on the defensive side of the ball, but it could take some time to really find out if he gets to that point.
Kevin Huerter is a small forward in the NBA who should be able to guard the shooting guard position. His length will help him stick on shooters outside of the paint, but he could struggle inside until he bulks up. With no spots in the starting rotation, Huerter would look to be the backup small forward for the Sixers. Huerter could carve out a role as one of the first off of the bench because of his upside on offense, the Sixers need consistency from the bench and Huerter could help bring that.
With the growing interest in Kevin Huerter he may not be available when the Sixers pick with the 26th selection. Recently Huerter underwent surgery on his shooting hand, which makes many believe he has been given a guarantee from a team to be selected at some point in the first round. The upside he has shown this offseason has many believing he could even go into the teens, but I have Huerter being selected 22nd overall by the Chicago Bulls. Early on in his career he may struggle because he will have to grow into his body and learn how to play with more weight, but I believe that Huerter is going to become a successful starter in the NBA. His combination of shooting and athleticism is something many would kill to have, and if he somehow slips to the Sixers with the 26th pick you can guarantee that I will be doing backflips down Broad Street.