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2022 NBA Draft Prospect Profiles: Bryce McGowens

Bryce McGowens is a talented scorer that needs to round out his game

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NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Nebraska Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The prospect profiles continue on Grizzly Bear Blues. For more, visit the “Memphis Grizzlies 2022 Draft Coverage” group to see more of our profiles on draft prospects and their potential fits with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Bryce McGowens, Guard, Nebraska

  • 6’6”, 6’9” Wingspan, 181 Pounds, 19 years old from Pendleton, South Carolina
  • Last season at Nebraska: In 31 Games (31 Starts, 33.3 minutes per game), 16.8 points per game on 40.3% shooting (27.4% from 3, 83.1% on free throws), 5.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals
  • AWARDS AND ACCOLADES: 2021-22 Big Ten All-Freshman, 2021-22 All-Big Ten 3rd Team
  • 3 STATS OF STRENGTH (per Tankathon): Free Throw Rate (.491), Draft Age (19), Free Throw Percentage (83.1%)
  • 3 STATS TO IMPROVE (per Tankathon): Defensive Box Plus/Minus (-1.0), Win Shares/40 minutes (0.085), Assist Percentage-to-Usage Ratio (0.32)
  • CURRENT BIG BOARD POSITION: 28 (Tankathon), 23 (The Ringer), 29 (ESPN), 41 (CBS Sports), 22 (The Athletic), 29 (Bleacher Report)

If the playoffs have taught us anything, you can never have too much shot creation. The Memphis Grizzlies learned that on the way out of the postseason, as the Golden State Warriors had a great wealth of shot creators from Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Jordan Poole.

With Poole in particular, his progression has played a big role in helping the Warriors become a Finals team once again. His leap might impact the draft stock of prospects with similar skillsets.

Bryce McGowens of Nebraska fits that criteria. While it’s unfair to pit that kind of comparison to him, as Poole is arguably a 95th percentile outcome for him, he has the potential and skillset to become a dynamic scorer off the bench.

There will be a lot of all-around aspects of his game to work out, but his creation upside is something to bet on. And for a team like the Memphis Grizzlies that can afford such a swing, McGowens could be a good pick at either the 22nd or 29th picks.

Areas of Strength

Bryce McGowens is a hooper, a bonafide scorer. He’s a 3-level scorer with deep range off the dribble and with athleticism and control to finish inside.

There are several elements of his scoring arsenal that are enticing towards NBA translation. McGowens demonstrated pick-and-roll prowess last season. In 137 possessions as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, he scored 0.832 points per possession, ranking in the 71st percentile — which Synergy Sports classifies as “very good.” His attack as a scorer bodes well for him, especially off switches, and his 3-point range off the dribble is a weapon there as well. In a league that features heavy pick-and-roll, big combo guards that can initiate and score out of the pick-and-roll are hot commodities.

McGowens is also elite at drawing fouls. He possessed a free throw rate of .491, and his craft and aggression should help him get to the free throw line.

Finally, one thing that demonstrates his scalability is his 3-point shooting. His percentages are janky, shooting 27.4% from 3 this past season. He had to take a lot of pull-up and late-clock jumpers, which hurts his efficiency. Per Synergy Sports though, McGowens scored 1.024 points per spot-up possession (123 total), and he also tallied 1.475 PPP (89th percentile) in unguarded catch-and-shoot possessions (40 total). This leads to my belief he can complement star players just fine.

Bryce McGowens’ scoring versatility emulates star-scorer upside, and that alone will be intriguing for any team picking in the 1st round.

Areas of Improvement

There are two areas that could prove to be hindrances from Bryce McGowens reaching his potential.

Offensively, his playmaking is subpar. He finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.66 and an assist-to-usage ratio of 0.32. There are some team construction elements to take from these findings. McGowens wasn’t on a good college team, and often times that could lead to assists being blown. Or, it could fall on McGowens’ inability to read the floor, or a straight-up refusal to pass. It’s going to be interesting to monitor whether or not he shows playmaking chops with a more defined — and ideal — pecking order. Nonetheless, your rope to handle creation responsibilities will be shorter in the NBA if you can’t get good looks for your teammates as well.

Defensively, he has the tools to succeed as a 6’6” perimeter player with a 6’9” wingspan. He has the mobility and footwork to be a decent defender, but his defense didn't materialize in Nebraska — finishing with a -1.0 Defensive Box Plus/Minus. Again though, we’re back to team construction. Did he have too much of an offensive burden where his focus or energy just weren’t there on the other end of the floor? Or does he have legitimate defensive flaws? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. If he wants to get on the floor though, upping his defensive intensity will be a key in his early years. Luckily, he’s demonstrated flashes on that end of the floor.

Bryce McGowens won’t have the responsibilities he had at Nebraska, and that reality should bode well for him as he continues to build on his weaknesses.

Fit with the Grizzlies

Bryce McGowens would be more of a project — using the G-League to refine his skillset. While he’ll be in a lead-scoring role down in the G-League, he can become more of a playmaker as well. He can also understand NBA defensive schemes to become less of a defensive liability whenever his number is called.

It’s also enticing to draft another wing or combo guard, because of the developments of Desmond Bane, De’Anthony Melton, and Ziaire Williams under this coaching staff.

In an ideal world, he’s the primary combo guard off the bench for the Grizzlies, providing a spark with his microwave scoring. It’d be tough to slot him in lineups with Ja Morant and Desmond Bane, because of their underwhelming defensive chops — that might lower the possibility of him becoming a Grizzlies pick. However, giving Morant another backcourt player that can space the floor and can alleviate creation responsibilities off of him could be beneficial for the offensive system.

McGowens has one of the highest upsides outside the lottery. If he hits, he becomes another asset for the Grizzlies that’ll help them from on-court and transactional standpoints. Shot creation is in demand, and you can never have too much of it. McGowens fulfilling his upside could make the Grizzlies’ offense more lethal.

When discussing the probability he’s the pick though, it’s more likely they target another combo guard or wing that’s more polished in multiple areas. Nonetheless, betting on a scoring talent like McGowens is certainly enticing.

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