Kevin Huerter came onto the national scene as a sharp-shooter for Maryland over the past two seasons. Needing 3-point help and more guard depth, the Minnesota Timberwolves should take a look at the upstate New York product.
Rather than giving a full scouting report, ESPN’s Jay Bilas had six simple words to describe Kevin Huerter as part of ESPN’s live NBA Draft Combine coverage: “Knows how to play the game.”
Having played against him in high school and watching his college career unfold, I can safely say that he’s not wrong.
Huerter’s success started early as he led Shenendehowa High School to back-to-back Class AA sectional titles in 2015 and 2016, including capturing the New York State Class AA state championship in 2015. He was selected to USA’s 2017 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup team in 2017 and was named Mr. New York Basketball following his senior season.
All of his accomplishments and accolades have come with good reason; Huerter is a special talent. Standing at 6-foot-7 and weighing 190 pounds, his remarkable 3-point shot comes easier to him thanks to his height and length.
Upon arrival to Maryland, Huerter was able to put his talents on display on a national level.
Going back to what Jay Bilas said, Huerter has a very high basketball IQ. He can create and pass with ease as well as knowing when it’s time for him to put the ball in his own hands. Nothing of his is forced, he allows the game to come to him — which, for someone his age, is very impressive to play that unselfish and smart.
After getting his feet wet in his freshman season, Huerter improved even more in his sophomore campaign.
The key for Huerter was the ability to reach the free throw line more often, something scouting reports claim he doesn’t do enough. The category that sticks out the most, of course, is his 3-point percentage. He took nearly the same amount of threes in his sophomore season as he did in his freshman season while cashing in more often.
He’s not only a shoot-first guard, Huerter is also a crafty passer. He makes very good decisions on when to pull-up for a shot or when to give it up. This goes back to his high basketball IQ and knowing where is teammates are at all times.
His height advantage also helps him crash the boards for rebounds. He averaged five per game over the course of his collegiate career. If Huerter were to have averaged five boards per game in the NBA this season he would be ranked fourth among all shooting guards.
Also, it’s notable that Huerter tested near the top in several combine tests, showing that he’s one of the better athletes in this draft class.
Now, there are some issues with Huerter, however, they can be tweaked over time. He isn’t the greatest ball-handler for someone who can dish the ball as well as he can. Also, as competitive as he is on defense, his lack of length and strength may hold him back early on in his career. However, Huerter developed more muscle mass during his sophomore season to help him hit the ground running in the NBA.
Don’t let the turnovers fool you, however. The vast majority of those came when he was forced to put the ball on the deck for an extended period of time. Sure, it should be concerning that he can be turnover prone when forced to dribble too much. But it’s also good know that very few of the turnovers were the result of careless mistakes. Again, thank his high basketball IQ for that.
All in all Huerter is a commander on offense. His intelligence for the game allows him to move the ball crisply and keep the offense flowing. He can shoot the ball well from anywhere on the court while making good shot decisions. This is the case no matter if he’s pulling up, coming off a screen or falling away. As for his range…there is no limit to how deep the man can shoot.
I mean, he shot that ball from his hometown of Clifton Park. Not to mention cashing in on that shot with a hand in his face in clutch time.
His court vision is absolutely unreal, too. The way he can see the game unfold in front of him is something fans need to see with their own eyes.
Overall, Huerter brings to the table everything the Wolves are looking for. His shooting abilities would surly help the Wolves move out of last place in the league in 3-point shots attempted. As for guards, they averaged 11.5 threes per game last season and cashed in on just 34.3 percent. Clearly, Huerter would come in to improve the Wolves’ biggest team flaw.
Looking ahead his stature makes him a dangerous defender when he learns the ropes and becomes stronger. There aren’t many shooting guards with his height, and he could be a defensive nightmare for opponents.
With the Wolves sitting at pick No. 20, there is a good chance that Huerter will be available. If so, the Wolves should take a close look at the upstate New York product.