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Profiling the Memphis Grizzlies Prospects: R.J. Hunter

RJ Hunter could be the three point threat the Grizzlies are looking for

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RJ Hunter out of Georgia State presents an intriguing option for the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies need for a 3 and D player could drive them to pick a player like Hunter with potential to become a good one in the NBA.

If you're looking at the percentages Hunter may not seem like a great shooter as he only shot 30% from three and 39.3% overall. But digging deeper shows he had a high usage percentage at 29.6% and shot 7.4 three point field goals per game and has a beautiful jumper. He's a good three point shooter that was in a tough situation with his team.

Being the primary scorer at Georgia State put him in a position where he had to take a high volume of shots and those shots weren't always good decisions. Taking deep threes after dribbling for long periods of time was commonplace in his game because he is so good at hitting threes off the dribble. He was at his most efficient when coming off of screens or spotting up off of passes, though. NBA teams, especially the Grizzlies, will find these two skills immensely valuable.

Here's the kinds of pull up shots Hunter can hit:


That's some Stephen Curry nonsense right there. These are the types of shots that Hunter can hit, but he took too much and it would tank his percentages. The two defenders live with Hunter hitting this shot, but he can do it. Where he is most deadly with his pull up is off the pick and roll. He can hit a pick and just pull up instantly. Shots like this most likely will not be available to him in the NBA even if he can hit them.

Hunter is great at running around screens:


This is one situation where Hunter's lanky 180 pound frame comes in handy. He can run around screens and lose his man quickly so he has enough separation to shoot the ball cleanly. Once he receives it it's one or less dribbles and he gets set then shoots. The Grizzlies could use his ability to run around screens like this. This can open up the offensive play book like JJ Redick does for the Clippers , but to a much, much lesser extent.

Here's an example Hunter's spot up shooting:


This is my favorite part of Hunter's game. I could watch him do this all day. He anticipates the pass and squares up from deep behind the arc. His shot isn't contested well enough and he's squared up perfectly so he buries it. Where the Grizzlies would use him the most is on spot ups off of post ups from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. They only have Mike Conley and Courtney Lee to hit shots like this as of right now.

Shooting threes isn't all that Hunter can do. The 6'5" guard is a very capable passer that can pick a team apart in the pick and roll. He only averaged 3.5 assists per game, but it was a huge part of his game that other teams had to be aware of. Playing too close to Hunter in the pick and roll meant he was going to hit an open man. Sinking off of him meant he was going to get open for three. Sometimes high usage players aren't willing passers. Hunter is not only a willing passer, but he's a smart passer as well.

Here is an example of his passing ability:


Doubling off of the screen is the best way to limit Hunter, but he recognizes this weak double immediately. By dribbling towards the top of the key he gave his roll man as much time to get open near the basket as he could. Then he just makes the smart pass to the open man. It happens quickly and smartly. He has yet to run the pick and roll with someone as skilled or as big as Marc Gasol. The pair could develop a dangerous two man game if given the opportunity.

Now, if he's not shooting threes or throwing passes in the pick and roll Hunter struggles. Not being very explosive off the floor or quick on his feet led to Hunter struggling to finish at the rim. He can't get by his defender and will just settle for a jumpshot too much. Settling for tough shots is a huge problem for Hunter. It's a by product of his small frame and him having to do too much on the offensive end. Already struggling to get by defenders because you are slow is much harder when you are as lanky as Hunter.

What Hunter lacks inside the arch he partly makes up for his ability to draw contact in the paint. He shot 6.5 free throws per game at 89%. Pairing him next to Jordan Adams could be incredibly interesting. Both get to the line and convert at a high rate.

The Georgia State guard was a difference maker on defense with 2.1 steals and 1.0 block per game in college, but he is going to find trouble on defense at the next level. Due to his wingspan (6'10.5") and the zone Georgia State employed Hunter was able to wreak havoc in the passing lanes. There wasn't much 1-on-1 defense and when he did play straight up he struggled to keep his man from getting to the basket. There isn't any zone in the NBA so Hunter has to work on if he's going to become a successful defensive player at the next level.

Being a weak one-on-one defender is completely fixable, especially for someone with Hunter's physical gifts. First, he needs to fill out some more and he should with the help of an NBA trainer. At 6'5" and 180 pounds he is very undersized. Physicality and toughness are huge on defense in the NBA and being 180 pounds just not going to cut it. He has to fill out so he can compete better not just on defense, but in the post on offense where he will have a size advantage on some two guards.

Then, he has to not gamble and stay home much more than he does. When you are a weak one-on-one defender and as explosively challenged as Hunter is you cannot gamble as much as he does. Being drafted by a defensive minded team like the Grizzlies could be great for Hunter. He can hide on defense until his body fills out and he learns the nuances of NBA defense.

The problem with drafting RJ Hunter is there's a huge question of whether or not Coach Dave Joerger will play him. Hunter could be the most NBA ready prospect at 25 despite his problems. I think he could contribute right away in small doses on the offensive end. He isn't the immediate answer to the Grizzlies spacing woes, but he could be down the road.

(Stats from DraftExpress and Basketball-Reference).

(Gifs made from videos here and here).