Utah Jazz Draft Prospects 2015: Trey Lyles

June 16th, 2015 | by Dakota Schmidt
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Throughout this prospect profile series, I’ve maintained a high level of optimism while discussing these players. Every prospect that I’ve profiled has a few flaws to their game, but their strengths have been consistently able to outweigh those issues. However, that constant optimism might fade away as we look at Kentucky freshman Trey Lyles.

When discussing any Kentucky prospect name not named Willie Cauley-Stein or Karl Anthony-Towns, one must determine if they were able to use a particular asset to help the high-powered Kentucky team (i.e Devin Booker’s perimeter shooting ability or Andrew Harrison’s athleticism). That wasn’t exactly the case for Lyles, who displays a bevy of different offensive skills but wasn’t great in any particular area.

Perhaps the most appealing part of Lyles work would be his apparent potential as a pick-and-roll big. The 6’10 forward has displayed an ability to spot-up and hit the mid-range and perimeter jumper. He’s also mobile enough to put the ball on the floor and take it to the rim.

As a shooter, he has a pretty smooth shooting stroke that finishes with an extremely high release point, which would be tough for any defender to contest. And as you can see from the following shot chart, there are areas of the court where Lyles has been an efficient shooter.


At least with Kentucky, Lyles wasn’t really able to display that solid shooting stroke on a consistent basis. According to Synergy, Lyles shot 37% (32/87) on jumpers during his freshman season. While that isn’t a particularly bad shooting percentage, especially when you consider that he does have his hot spots, you’d like to see him be a bit more efficient if that skill is something that he’s going to base his game around.

Lyles has some potential as a roll man. He’s an aggressive off-ball threat, very mobile for a player his size. Furthermore, once Lyles gets an open lane, he’s able to finish at the rim with authority. Lyles is also able to work off-the-dribble, with an ability to use both hands to drive to the rim. While he isn’t as explosive as Cauley-Stein or Towns, Lyles finds his way to the rim, where he shot 75%, according to hoop-math.com.

On the rare occasion where he was asked to post up, Lyles displayed some solid fundamentals. At 6’10 and 241 pounds, he had an immediate size advantage over the majority of his opponents. He was able to use that advantage to pull himself closer to get an easier look at the rim. Following that, Lyles displays a pretty solid hook, which he mainly used on the right block.

A lot of my questions about Lyles revolve around his work on the defensive end. At Kentucky, working alongside Cauley-Stein and Towns, Lyles worked mainly as a small forward. While he’s definitely mobile for a 6’10 forward, he was in over his head when it came to defending those players. Those wings were regularly able to drive their way past Lyles, due to the difference in mobility and the poor defensive fundamentals he exhibits.

Lyles also had a tendency to get beat in the low post, which is pretty significant for a long, bulky player. He averaged less than a block and steal per-40 minutes, which is extremely rough.

Although Trey Lyles exhibits several individual skills, the fact that he doesn’t particularly excel at anything isn’t appealing. Especially for a Jazz team that’s looking for a stable stretch four, picking an inefficient shooter like Lyles might not be the best move, especially when threats like Frank Kaminsky, Bobby Portis or even Devin Booker could be available at the 12th pick.

Add those inefficiencies to his struggles on the defensive end, and I really can’t see any case where the Jazz would use their lottery pick on Lyles. Could he develop into a useful player down the stretch? Sure. But the relative uncertainty that surrounds him scares me away, especially when you consider that there will be more well-rounded talents that the Jazz could use with their 12th overall pick.

Dakota Schmidt

A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.

  • How Trey Lyles Fits in Utah
    June 30th, 2015

    How Trey Lyles Fits in Utah

    Let’s get this out of the way from the jump: Trey Lyles wasn’t anywhere near the top of my Jazz draft board. If I were Dennis...Read More


  1. Grandpa John says:

    I agree with you. NBA draft.net has him classified only as a 7 for defensive ability, and he only has 0.5 blocks per game, and only shoots 14% for the 3′;s. If he doesn’t shoot the 3 very good, then he has to be a rim protector which he really isn’t either at only 0.5 blocks per game. Who knows, he could develop his skills in a couple years but other 19 year olds are showing greater protential for their age that Lyles is at this point in time. I sure wish with the assets that the Jazz have, there was some way, we could get Porsingis AND someone from the group of Oubre, Looney, or even Justin Anderson or Chris McCullough). What do you think of these last 4 swing players fitting in with the Jazz?

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    The skill that Lyles has (that you appear to have overlooked somewhat) is that he is a very good ball-handling and play-making big man. A lot of what he did for Kentucky was to take the ball off the dribble and penetrate to the basket for either a pass or a dump off to another player for a layup, both in the half-court and in the open court on the fastbreak–almost like a point guard in that respect. He also has good size for a PF. He certainly has his weaknesses, like all of the players available at #12.

    Just like the NBA personnel people, the more we examine the players and put their weaknesses under a microscope the more none of them look any good. One thing that David Locke always mentions is that sometimes the strengths of a particular player get overlooked because of their faults–but it is those strengths that make the player into an NBA prospect. Therefore, you have to look at a player’s best NBA skill, and try to project how it will translate in the NBA, where all the players are taller, bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic.

    I put my faith in the Jazz front office, who gets to see these players up close and personal in workouts, and gets to see not only what they look like in comparison to other draftees, but also how they look in comparison to current NBA players. They can also get more of a feel of whether the player has that burning desire to work very hard and get better. The front office has had a pretty good track record lately in making draft picks. None of the first round prospects the Jazz have picked since 2009 have been busts (although Kanter did not really fit the Jazz’s system and Burke might still become a bust, but you can’t say that just quite yet).

    • Mewko says:

      I agree with you. The jury is still out on Trey Burke. His chances don’t look good for being a solid, starting point guard. If he accomplishes that, then either Dante Exum will have been injured, or Burke will be on another team. But if Trey improves his shot selection, and stays out of hero mode, then he can re-discover his shot-making ability. Become a poor-man’s Jason Terry. That would be really valuable to the Jazz bench.

      Defensively, Burke showed some progress throughout 2014-15. I think he will become an average defender, especially if he becomes a pest (Dellavedova-like) OFF-THE-BALL. If Burke can drain energy from his opponent off the ball, it will make up for what he lacks guarding one-on-one, or pic ‘n roll situations.

      If Burke stays with the team through next year, than I hope he realizes he can be a winner if he accepts being a backup point guard in Utah. It’s hard for him to be demoted by some teenage kid from down under. But hopefully he realizes that it will make this team a winner.

  3. Grandpa John says:

    I agree with you Paul. I have complete confidence in the Jazz front office and their ability to examine the players up close and personal; but we can have fun as amateurs in our speculation.

  4. JoshG says:

    I am a fan of Lyles, but I don’t see a huge difference with several of the players that are going to available at 12. I have soured on Turner, after listening interview that talked about how awkward he looks when he is running. Frank the Tank could be an option. I think we are going to see some trades for the jazz during the draft. I like the idea of drafting Payne and then trading back a couple of spots and gain some other assets. It seems the OKC really wants him. I am not what we could gain by moving back 3-4 picks, but frank the tank or Dekker or Portis should be there. I don’t think Lyles will be available for us at 12, Payne not be there either. I also like Looney and Hunter, but not at 12. I also think the Jazz will trade a 2nd rd pick or draft International player they can leave overseas.

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