One of the big themes that has been evident throughout this draft prospect profile series has been the Jazz’s potential pursuit of a stretch four. We’ve touched on a few prospects that could potentially fill that need with Texas center Myles Turner and award-winning Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky. The final lottery-bound prospect that could fill that hole would be former UCLA forward Kevon Looney.
Turner and Looney actually share a bevy of similarities as far as how they work on the offensive end. The base appeal of the two young prospects centers around their potential as perimeter shooters, as well as on the offensive boards. While Turner’s perimeter potential didn’t translate into actual on-court consistency, Looney stood as one of the more efficient three-point shooters in all of college basketball.
Among players that will be entering the 2015 NBA Draft, Looney’s 41.5% percentage from deep ranks above the likes of Justise Winslow, D’Angelo Russell and Stanley Johnson. Looney’s able to be so efficient because of his smooth shooting stroke. Although it isn’t the quickest shot in the world, Looney’s jumper has a high release point, with his entire body facing directly at the rim.
And as he’s become an impressive perimeter shooter, Looney has been able parlay that ability to become a consistent on-ball threat. Looney isn’t an exceptional athlete or ball-handler, which definitely hinders his ability to cut past most forwards. In the rare cases where he’s able to work around an opponent, Looney does a nice job of working his way to the rim and ultimately using his frame to score.
Looney’s able to use his long 7-3 wingspan to be an elite offensive rebounder. Averaging 4.4 offensive boards per 40 minutes, Looney does a great job of scoping out where the ball will go after it bounces off the rim or the backboard. Although he’s not the strongest forward in the world, he shows off a tremendous effort on the offensive glass, as he’s not afraid to mix it up with opponents that are larger and stronger than him.
At this point in his young career, Looney’s not able to do much from inside the paint besides what he does as an offensive rebounder. Looney doesn’t look even the bit comfortable from the post, lacking both footwork and strength, both key factors in success on the block.
On the defensive end, Looney displays a tremendous amount of potential, based primarily on his long frame. Unlike Turner, who is less mobile and remains mostly in the paint, Looney loves to spread out on the perimeter and defend against guards or wings. With his length and solid lateral quickness, Looney routinely does a nice job of containing penetration:
Another area where Looney’s lack of core strength has caused struggles as a post-up defender is the ease with which he can pushed around by bigger opponents. However, there are some instances where Looney’s lanky frame can come in handy.
As I’ve said before with Kaminsky and Turner, Looney’s work as a stretch four should allow him to have an immediate role inside Utah’s rotation. That shooting stroke will give Quin Snyder some flexibility with his lineups, as Looney will be able to create some inside-outside action with either Rudy Gobert or Derrick Favors. Likewise, Looney’s defensive versatility should give him some immediate playing time, as Utah seems to value players that can defend multiple positions.
With that in mind, Looney has two major areas where he’ll have to improve on as he transitions to the NBA: work in the post and becoming physically stronger.
While he’s still an incredibly young player, having just turned 19 in February, those are two areas in which he’ll have to develop if he wants to transition from a solid role player into a starting-caliber talent. And with Utah, he’ll definitely have a lot of time to continue to develop his already solid all-around game.