Georgia needed a player who could shoot from the perimeter, Justin Kier, delivers.
Justin Kier will be immediately eligible to play for the Georgia Bulldogs next season and he will likely be a strong candidate to be a starter in the lineup whenever the season starts. Kier gives Georgia a perimeter shooting threat that they did not have last season and he will play an important role in ensuring that opponents respect Georgia’s spacing on the floor. Kier was pursued by many schools and he narrowed his choices down to North Carolina State, Minnesota, and Georgia. North Carolina State and Minnesota are very similar in terms of their style of play while Georgia is a fast-paced team with a different offensive approach. Kier announced his decision on Instagram and notified media sources of his future in Athens.
Kier suffered a stress fracture in his foot that caused him to play only 9 games last season, which extended his eligibility and enabled him to be in this position. Kier, a 6’4″ Shooting Guard from Grottoes, Virginia, which is located near Harrisonburg, just west of the Shenandoah National Park is more accustomed to shouldering a larger load for his team compared to Donnell Gresham Jr., who was more accustomed to being a secondary player on the floor.
Kier’s impact at Georgia will go beyond shooting and spacing.
Kier’s a Strong Defensive Rebounder for his size and position.
Kier was pulling down a 20% defensive rebounding rate as a Junior at George Mason, 22.7% against Atlantic 10 competition. Before his injury this past season, he had an 18% defensive rebounding rate, which is also rather good. Anthony Edwards and Jordan Harris were critical defensive rebounders for the squad last season.
Kier’s presence should improve the team’s ability to close out possessions and get out running in transition as this team prefers.
Kier is a disruptive defender.
Georgia has not brought in any perimeter players who are expected to be disruptive thus far. Mikal Starks and K.D. Johnson have been subpar defenders against the closest competition that they would face to the college level. This changes with the infusion of Justin Kier. Kier immediately changes this team in practice and in the game, which is when the team can start practicing and playing games again.
In Kier’s Junior Year, he was able to get a 2.7% steals rate, which is impressive. Kier was able to do this without fouling either. He has a very low fouls committed per 40 minutes metric. Kier will not completely make up for the loss of Jordan Harris and Donnell Gresham Jr., but he fills some of the void and players like Christian Brown should make a larger contribution in the 2020-21 Season.
Kier is able to draw fouls and hit Free Throws
Kier instantly becomes the team’s best Free Throw shooter. Late in close games, who is going to put the game on ice at the Free Throw Line? The most proven candidate is Justin Kier. Kier will not have foul trouble and he will be able to play at the end of games to put games away. He was a 76.9% Free Throw shooter in his Junior Year and an 84.6% shooter prior to the stress fracture he suffered.
Kier can draw fouls and he should draw more with Tom Crean as a cutting and shooting option within the offense. Kier will have to make the right read on Sahvir Wheeler and K.D. Johnson’s dribble drives. As a baseline cutter, much in the role of Jordan Harris, he’ll be able to attack the basket and get his opportunities at the Free Throw Line. Kier should have opportunities to attack off the dribble drive and he may be discouraged from taking mid-range shots unless they are within 8 feet of the basket.
If opponents let him get too deep, his odds of drawing a foul rise and likely so does his Field Goal percentage. He is not just a shooter, but he will be needed to get to the Free Throw Line.
Three Point Shooting
The sample size from last season is low as Kier only attempted 24 three point Field Goal attempts from the new three point arc. He was a 45.8% three point shooter and that’s something to get excited about if he is able to maintain such a percentage. Shooting from the old three point arc, he was a 37.1% three point shooter.
All Kier needs to do is be respectable from three point range and discourage defenders from sagging in man-to-man defense or collapsing their zone defenses. Georgia should have improved ball movement, cutting, and shot selection this upcoming season. These are all things that are associated with higher three point shooting percentages.
The ability to shoot the three point shot lends itself to spacing, which is so critical for Tom Crean’s offense. Spacing puts defenders of ball screeners on an island of sorts, readers did not see much ball screen action last season because there was no clear tandem player with anyone handling the ball. Throw in poor spacing, lack of movement, designed isos to make Anthony Edwards look good (this backfired repeatedly), and it becomes easy to see how ball screen action at the top of the key was de-emphasized so greatly. Setting up backdoor cuts, chin screens, fan cuts off the pinch post, baseline cuts, and slips (an element of the offense that was largely missing against opponents like South Carolina) requires strong spacing.
Sahvir Wheeler will have plenty of options in a dribble drive.
- Ball side kick out on a Justin Kier read.
- Pass to Justin Kier on a ball side baseline cut off the same read as #1.
- Score at the rim.
- Weak side cutter.
- Weak side shooter on a restricted arc pass after penetrating deep into the interior.
- If set up by a ball screen, kick out to screen on a fade, hit a roller, or quickly hit a player on the slip (if it is a slip).
With the downhill driving exhibited by Georgia in the past two seasons, it should not be a surprise that drivers have plenty of options within the offense and excellent spacing will lead to more points scored.
More Roster Space to be Filled?
Georgia has been in contact with Deandre Williams (Evansville) and Marcus Santos-Silva (VCU) to fill an interior void. Both are ordinary transfers who will need to sit out a season, but they will both be immediately impactful.
There is much belief among the base that Rayshaun Hammonds will be back, but it does appear that Hammonds will actually remain in the 2020 NBA Draft. The 2020 NBA Draft is perceived to be quite weak and NBA scouts are likely operating on outdated information, whenever there is a combine, Hammonds’ height and weight will be measured. If Hammonds is 6’9″ 245 pounds, he will move up from where he currently is stationed in the mock drafts to somewhere in the 30s. This should put Hammonds in a similar position to Nicolas Claxton and he should be able to earn a similar contract, but with a little bit more money. A concern with Hammonds is that he is a tweener much like Yante Maten, but if he is indeed 6’9″, this would put this concern to rest.
Attrition to come?
There is a current member of the Georgia roster who is considering an entry into the transfer portal and a member of the Class of 2020 who may not be able to make it to Athens. This would free up a lot of space and given how the Class of 2021 is going to be the toughest class to evaluate in the Shoe Circuit era, it would free up space for ordinary transfers to come into the Georgia program. It would give Tom Crean an opportunity to bring along graduate transfers and continue to pursue more proven Class of 2021 recruits like Michael Foster Jr., who is not going to be able to re-classify after all.