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2020 NBA Draft Profiles: Ashton Hagans

Should the Grizzlies add the defense-first point guard to the roster?

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NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Ashton Hagans, Point Guard, University of Kentucky

6’3”, 6’6” wingspan, 198 pounds, 21 years old

2019-2020 season: 30 games played, 33.1 minutes per game, 11.5 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game, 6.4 assists per game, 1.9 steals per game, 40.4% from the field (25.8% from three), 81% from the free throw line.

ADVANCED STATS STRENGTHS: AST%/Usage (1.62), Def Rating (95.6), Def Win Shares (.072)

ADVANCED STATS WEAKNESSES: Off Box +/- (1.9), Effective field goal percentage (43.4%), Off Rating (101.8)

CURRENT BIG BOARD RANKINGS: Tankathon (53), The Athletic (76), ESPN (54), CBS (46)

The circumstances of the NBA bubble proved the Grizzlies could have benefitted from having a 3rd point guard on the roster. With Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow hurt, the Grizzlies turned to Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton as the de facto backup point guard in Jones’ absence. The results weren’t pretty as Melton often looked overwhelmed, and Kyle struggled between being the starting small forward and backup point guard. Fortunately for the Grizzlies, there are plenty of solid point guard prospects in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft with one of those guys being Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans.

The Kentucky prospect is an elite defender, having won SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and making the 2020 SEC All-Defensive Team. Hagans quickly became one of John Calipari’s favorites, as he started 59 of a possible 67 games in his 2-year Wildcat career. Hagans is projected to be available when the Grizzlies are on the clock with the 40th pick in this years draft. Should Hagans be an option?

What he does well

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Michigan State Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

LIke I previously mentioned, Hagans makes a name for himself on the defensive end. Hagans has a knock for locking down opposing players and forcing his fair share of turnovers. In his freshman season, Hagans picked up 61 steals which was the 3rd most by a Kentucky freshman, as he trailed just John Wall and Rajon Rondo in that category.

Hagans also excelled at sharing the ball at Kentucky. Sure it helps playing alongside numerous 5-star players, but Hagans ran away with leading the Wildcats in assist this past season even doubling runner up Tyrese Maxey’s assist numbers. Hagans also had a knack for drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line where he shot a solid 81%.

What he needs to improve

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Hagans needs to be working on his shooting non-stop heading into the draft, and probably for a good bit into his NBA career. Hagans shot a putrid 25.8% from beyond the arc this past season with the previous season not being much better. With the direction the NBA is headed, you simply need to be a reliable 3-point shooter to stay on the floor — unless you’re either an All-Star caliber player, or spend all your time on the block. As a point guard, Hagans certainly won’t be spending too much time down low. His free throw percentage is encouraging enough that he can improve upon his 3-point shooting, but if his numbers stay where they are, Hagans will be nothing more than a defensive specialist.

Hagans will also need to take better care of the ball. He averaged over 3 turnovers per game at Kentucky and things will only get more difficult at the NBA level. He’ll need to make better decisions with the ball to prove that his assist rate, as Kentucky wasn’t solely because of the talent on the court with him.

The Fit and Verdict

Syndication: Louisville Mike Weaver/Special to Courier Journal, Louisville Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Hagans is certainly an interesting fit for the Memphis Grizzlies. You can never have too many elite defenders on a roster, and his offensive concerns are at least somewhat fixable. With Ja Morant and Tyus Jones ahead of him on the depth chart, and a healthy Justise Winslow and Kyle Anderson capable of point-forward duties, Hagans could spend a majority of the season learning on the bench with some appearances for the Hustle down in Southaven mixed in.

In a sneaky deep draft class at the point guard position, the Grizzlies will likely have a better option on the board when they are on the clock with the 40th pick.

Verdict: Hagans is available when the Grizzlies are on the clock, but they pass for a more highly rated prospect.

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