Georgia Basketball

Rayshaun Hammonds is Testing the NBA Draft Waters

Rayshaun Hammonds is doing what any top College Basketball player should do, see what NBA scouts have to say about the way he plays the game.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Rayshaun Hammonds choosing to keep his eligibility and enter the NBA Draft, it gives him options and information that can help him in the short-term and long-term.  Yante Maten went through the process and he chose to return to Georgia, he was the SEC Player of the Year after improving his play further.  In the case of Nicolas Claxton, he felt secure that he would be drafted by an NBA team and not be considered expendable so he stayed in the NBA Draft and now plays in the Brooklyn Nets organization.  For Rayshaun Hammonds, this is a wise decision that will serve him well whether he plays professionally (NBA or overseas) or stays at UGA.

Rayshaun Hammonds is Enigmatic, Yet Brilliant

Hammonds’ physical presence and skill set is enough to dominate a game on the collegiate level, but he has struggled because off-court issues that are interestingly seasonal.  Hammonds goes through a month lull every season at the same time, which is between January 15 and February 15.  Hammonds re-emerges from this lull and is the dominant player he presented himself to be prior.

Hammonds is a strong finisher at the rim with an above-average ability to knock down three point shots.  His Free Throw shooting is inconsistent and his ability to get to the Free Throw Line is hampered by his own decision-making.  Later in the season, Hammonds’ decision-making improved considerably.  Hammonds replaced his reckless drives that failed to progress his way to the rim with more unselfish plays and better set-ups off the dribble.  Hammonds also discovered that he can make plays in the pinch post to set up shooters and cutters.  This would radically reduce the number of offensive fouls he committed and set up high percentage shots at the rim.

Hammonds’ mid-range shooting is not a strong point, but he continued to try to attempt mid-range jump shots, hook shots from 5-7 feet, and runners from 7 feet away.  While he was a bellwether for Georgia when trying to score, he was finding success on the offensive end as a distributor in an offense that emphasizes cutting and positionless sharing of the basketball within a mostly 5 out offensive framework.  It was disappointing that Hammonds’ role as a passer was not explored further in the Georgia Offense.  A greater potential was shown against the overmatched Ole Miss Rebels in Nashville and while the season ended on a positive note, the unselfishness of Hammonds and how tuned in his teammates were to his role in the offense gave reason to believe that this team would make a run in the SEC Tournament.

With Hammonds, Focus is Important

Hammonds’ defensive focus and engagement was critical to the team’s success.  Georgia’s defensive strategy made no sense with the roster Tom Crean built, a man-to-man defense that switched on ball screens and was frequently lost.  Hammonds was not always engaged and it reflected negatively on the team.  Poor defense fed into poor offense. Combine these issues with foul trouble and it was not a good sign for the Dawgs.

For Georgia, Hammonds was the equivalent of a starting pitcher.  Tom Crean relied on Hammonds getting off to a strong start to set up his teammates for the middle of the game and for Anthony Edwards to play the role of closer.  Hammonds’ struggles threw this formula out of balance.

Hammonds can be a strong rebounder, engaged defender, and even a shot blocker when he is mentally engaged.

Who steps in if Hammonds jumps?

The addition of Jonathan Ned and Josh Taylor provide intriguing options for Tom Crean.  Taylor is a good defensive rebounder, but he is not physically at Hammonds’ level.  Ned is similar to Missouri’s Mitchell Smith.  Ned is a 6’9″ Guard with rebounding capabilities.

On the existing roster, Mike Peake and Christian Brown served as understudies for Rayshaun Hammonds.  They each have aspects of Hammonds’ style of play, but do not have the physical attributes of Hammonds.  In the positionless offense, Brown and Peake are capable of replacing Hammonds in many respects.  On defense, is where it hurts because of Rodney Howard’s transfer to Georgia Tech.  Georgia has no interior presence who can physically take on a 6’9″ 235 pound Power Forward.  Tom Crean would have to radically change the defense to a 1-1-3 or 1-3-1 Defense with pressing, trapping, and extending elements if the interior defensive presence is not there.

The Transfer Market

Who has Georgia contacted and generated interest in the frontcourt?

  • Kevin Marfo (transfer from Quinnipiac)
  • Chevez Goodwin (transfer from Wofford)

Kevin Marfo is a major force on the glass and he is able to draw fouls, which helps the defensive effort as key players on the interior for the opposition would be sitting on the bench.  Marfo has a 34.1% defensive rebounding rate and he would enable Georgia to get more shot opportunities with an 18.5% offensive rebounding rate.  Marfo can also block shots.  All of this means that Marfo can set up Georgia’s transition opportunities and if he can be a bit unselfish, set up wide open three point shots that flow inside-out.  The biggest winners with Marfo on this UGA roster would be Christian Brown, Sahvir Wheeler, and Jaykwon Walton.

Marfo’s downside is that he is not exactly a versatile player and that he is not strong enough finishing in the restricted arc.  However, if he can draw contact and set up his teammates for second chance points, this Georgia offense can be rather strong.

Who could Georgia contact next?  (In a way that is social distancing friendly, of course)

Here’s a sit-one season, play one season option – Dwight Wilson of James Madison.

Jordan Cintron may be an intriguing option.  He entered the transfer portal yesterday.

Hayden Koval is a versatile 7 footer from Central Arkansas.  He is pretty good at drawing fouls and he is an above-average Free Throw shooter, he also is an extremely strong shot blocker, and a good defensive rebounder.  His downside is that he is not good enough on the offensive glass and the transition to Tom Crean’s offense may not be conducive to the way he plays.  Koval is not a dribble driver, he is a back-to-the-basket and play off screen and roll sort of player in the interior.  He is set up by dribble drives and late entry to the frontcourt to take three point shots.

 

Possible Incoming Freshmen

Jonathan Kuminga – 6’8″ 210 pound Power Forward

He’s so highly sought after and well-thought of that he has a Wikipedia page.

Kuminga would be re-classifying himself from the 2021 Class to the 2020 Class so that he would be able to enter the 2021 NBA Draft.  He’s projected by NBADraft.net to be the #2 Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft.

Toumani Camara is projected as the 30th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft.

Against the highest level of competition, the Nike AAU circuit, Kuminga shined.  Kuminga showed that he is a Combo Forward with a capability to play inside and outside on offense.  His three point shooting is still a work in progress, the positive with his three point shooting is that the 3 point line in the Nike AAU circuit from the 2019 season was the international line.

Kuminga hauls in rebounds like the way one would expect from a Small Forward.

His ability to distribute is underrated for his position.  He’s not a disruptive defender and this needs to be improved.

Michael Foster, Jr. – 6’10” 225 pound Combo Forward

Foster, much like Kuminga, is a 2021 recruit looking to re-classify to 2020.  Foster is highly regarded, but he is not considered NBA ready like Kuminga.

Foster’s shot selection is a bit of a bugaboo.  He’s 6’10” and has such a low Field Goal percentage.  He also struggles at the Free Throw Line and his three point shooting is still a work-in-progress.  Shooting is not his strong point and it is something he needs to work on in practice.  A 45.95% two point Field Goal percentage in Nike EYBL is absolutely horrendous.

 

As a rebounder, Foster is better.  He did not perform well on the glass at Peach Jam, but was much better in Nike EYBL action.

Foster played more to position on defense with Mac Irvin Fire and he was still able to be disruptive in the passing lanes.  Shot blocking does not appear to be his forte.

Dylan Cardwell – 6’10” 220 pounds Power Forward/Center

Cardwell is not a strong shooter and he may lack versatility, but he gets his work done in the restricted arc and he was efficient there during the Nike EYBL season.  He had a high Free Throw Rate (52%) during this 13 game stretch.  He was not as effective at Peach Jam.

He’s a strong offensive and defensive rebounder.  His rebounding may be his strongest capability and he would certainly fill a need for Tom Crean in this respect.

Georgia was without a shot blocker last season and the interior defense was not able to create opportunities for the team to run up the floor outside of a long rebound.  Cardwell is a strong shot blocker and he may be able to immediately to improve the interior defense immediately.

2 thoughts on “Rayshaun Hammonds is Testing the NBA Draft Waters

  1. Heck, do you think Hammonds makes the jump? I wonder if he’ll talk to Claxton about spending the season playing D-League ball. I’ve gotta figure it’s a lot more fun to play at the top level of college basketball vs the developmental league.

    I personally don’t think he’ll declare. Too inconsistent, but it is a weak draft so he might do it. I didn’t think Nic would declare either but I was obviously wrong about that one.

    1. Going overseas is a gamble now. The G-League doesn’t pay well and Hammonds would need to really make a splash early to get into the NBA and stay there. He comes back, there’s still no assurance that he’ll get to play professionally as he would desire. I’d go 60/40, he jumps in fully. Fear of current issues in Europe and China will dissuade a lot of players from making the leap and it would make the draft pool shallower. Summer League may not happen and that makes things even tougher, so if Hammonds makes the leap when everyone else is afraid… he’s going to get drafted. It really depends upon the timing of his decision.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *