BJ Boston: A Klutch Client
BJ Boston is an interesting wing prospect in the NBA draft
BJ Boston had a challenging year at Kentucky. Sometimes, the most recent basketball year isn’t the best. Sometimes, the basketball situation doesn’t lean to what the player does best, even when it’s a blue chip school. When this is the case, it’s time to look at earlier footage, back when they looked like dominant players.
I mentioned in the Philosophy piece, that I felt ball-handling was the most critical skill to have because it allows players to get to where they want on the floor without turning the ball over. Within that, is more advanced handle, changing directions. I highlighted that players that can change directions two times in the same drive, show a level of comfort and confidence in their skill level with ball handling, plus the ability read and react instantaneously to a changing defense.
BJ Boston did that at the high school level with this specific play starting at 7:56.
Not only did he utilize the screen and change directions on the help big, but he still needed to finish with craft with a look off to the corner and a eurostep leading to the finish. This is all important skill-wise.
More importantly, it showed that he was able to play at an intermediate speed. He wasn’t killing anyone with burst or vertical. It was just simple skill moves with the appropriate application to a changing defense that led to an optimal outcome, an open shot right at the rim.
Another flash of that ball-handling happens here at the 11:11 mark.
A different kind of hesitation and change of direction out of pick and roll here.
Flashes of perimeter shot creation with the change of direction and deceleration prior to elevating for the jumpshot on back to back sequences starting at 12:49:
The sudden change of direction here to split a defense that appeared to be playing zone, then the side step to gain space to set up a better angle to finish:
The crossover, hang dribble, crossover, into a break rhythm step back jumper:
More ball handling flashes to draw the defense and then hit the open corner shooter, Bronny James Jr. :
All of those flashes were done during his senior year. That’s more than enough to be intrigued.
Size: Listed officially at 6’5.75” w/o shoes, 6’10.75” wingspan, 8’8” standing reach. 6% body fat. 9” x 9.75” hand length and width. 188lbs.
44.7% True shooting percentage
31% of his Field goal attempts are at the rim
47.8% Finishing ability at the rim
30.2% Assisted shots at the rim (some indication of off-ball ability)
34.5% of his Field goal attempts are 2-point range
30% 2-point field goal shooting
36.7% Assisted shots in 2-point range
34.5% of his Field goal attempts are 3-point shots
30% 3-point field goal shooting
.224 free throws attempted for every field goal attempt
78.5% free throw shooting
General assessment from statistics: A year that doesn’t reflect his ability. Good sign from the free throw shooting standpoint to highlight some ability to shoot.
The reason to believe in his 3-point shooting:
Shot 21 of 50 behind the arc in February and March during the last 10 games of the season, a 42% clip.
Article of his approach to the Kentucky season provided in the link above.
Finesse player. Plays a bit upright. Great reach helps with some isolation ball handling ability. Good leaper, loves to get out in transition. Great short range quickness when going into advanced dribble moves. Great balance after hard deceleration moves within his isolation creation abilities, allow him to be squared up vertically into the jumpshot. Despite slight frame, willing to challenge bigger players at the rim and absorb some contact. Every bit of an NBA wing athlete.
Slasher through and through. Likes to be freed up and get open shots at the rim with a runway. In isolation, capable of multiple changes of direction with his handle and footwork combination, and a step back to open up the jumpshot. Transition player. Shows some ability with short range passing off the dribble out of pick and roll. Able to absorb some contact at the rim. Plays one pass away for steals, baiting opponents into the next pass before extending. Flashes short range improvisational ability in breaking down his own man, the next step is advancing to the next series of defenders to finishing at the rim.
8% Total Rebound Percentage
11.5% Assist Rate
2.5% Steal Rate
0.5% Block Rate
10.1% Turnover Rate
23% Usage Rate
Would love to see with NBA development:
Outside of strength, initiating drives with the shoulder bump. NCAA defenders were able to read is right-hand dominant drives and beat him to the spot. Jaden Springer does a great job of utilizing his upper body to create space and he’s less reliant on burst. The same needs to happen here. The change of direction after he creates the initial space from the shoulder bump is where the money is made. Defenders usually can’t recover from the initial contact and a change of direction as well.
As an ancillary skill from that shoulder bump, he could also step back from that and take the midrange jumper. That should give him the time and space he needs for an accurate shot.
Once he gets comfortable with the catch and shoot 3-point shot (that he has) combined with a step back mid-range jumper off of an initial drive, the three level shooting skill set opens up more possibilities to compromise the defense with pick and roll play, a playset he had limited opportunities in, and one where I think he can excel a lot more, rather than one-on-one isolation shot creation.
Where does he fit?
It’s just so easy to look for another Ariza-type, and with BJ Boston’s frame and wingspan, I can’t help but make some similarity there. However, with my general expectation of NBA rookies being in development in their first year before getting major playing time, BJ Boston has a path to succeed with the Lakers.
The reason for the intrigue stems from his ball handling ability. Trevor Ariza was a slasher, but never really showed the improvisational ability in isolation situations to create his own shot or flash ability to run the pick-and-roll and evade defenders on the way to the hoop. It took years and Kobe’s shooting bible, before Ariza gained some respect as a 3-point shooter wearing a Laker jersey. Boston is comfortable with that 3-point shot in catch-and-shoot situations right now.
He’s a 1st round pick. The depth of this draft is unusual, where the perception is, the relatively same tier of talent is all stacked together in a group larger than normal. Sometimes 1st round pick types slip to the 2nd round. This may or may not be the case this upcoming draft. Either way, there’s a foundational skill set with his slashing ability and footwork to get to the basket. There’s upside, with his isolation ball handling leading to pull up jumpshots off the dribble. Then, there’s unraveling a higher level, with pick and roll creation as a 3-level scorer, using his 3-point shooting threat, a step back midrange jumper, and creative finishes at the basket.
That’s one example of what his path could look like. Maybe, with Coach Phil Handy’s help, he can get there sooner than later, and be the wing player that the Lakers have been sorely needing since Brandon Ingram got traded.
Rest In Peace Terrence Clarke.