Jacob breaks down A.J. Hammons, a 7-foot senior center for the Purdue Boilermakers.
A.J. Hammons arrived at Purdue with high expectations as a top-100 recruit. Three years later, he still hasn’t quite established himself as a surefire NBA prospect. Now, already 23 years old, he’s returning for his senior season in an attempt to build off of an impressive second half to the 2014-2015 campaign and improve his draft stock.
Hammons clearly has the size and strength the play in the NBA. At 7’0 and 280 pounds, there are few players in the nation who can match Hammons’ brute physique. He uses his size to his advantage effectively on the interior. Last season, Hammons averaged 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per-40 minutes, both rating in the top-10 in DX’s database among top-100 prospects.
Hammons is not only massive, but he’s also long. He was measured with a 7’3 wingspan in 2011 so it’s fair to assume he may be even longer now. He’s earned his reputation as an elite rim protector at the college level; last season, Hammons averaged 4.6 blocks per-40 minutes – a top-three rate in the NCAA among qualified prospects.
Offensively, Hammons can be overwhelming for opponents in the paint. More than half of his offensive possessions last season came with his back to the basket, where he made 93-of-180 of his post-ups (51.7%). When he wasn’t posting up, Hammons lurked around the basket gained his team extra possessions on the glass. Hammons pulled down 4.0 offensive rebounds per-40 minutes and grabbed 12.2% of all available offensive rebounds as junior – both rating in the top-10 for draft prospects. He also made 47-of-71 (66.2%) shots around the basket, proving he’s capable of finishing consistently when establishing position around the paint.
Hammons will help himself greatly if he learns to battle more in gaining positioning near the rim. More often than not, he settles on the edge of the paint and starts his entry moves from shallow post positioning. Equipped with an effective drop step, Hammons should use his size to gain deep positioning before calling for entry passes. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always display the type of intensity-level you’d like to see, as he often looks lethargic getting up and down the court and doesn’t always display the type of toughness you’d like to see from a player with his physical attributes.
Hammons gets to the line frequently. He averaged 6.6 free throw attempts per-40 but while he’s steadily improved his touch at the line, he’s still just a 68.4% free throw shooter.
He has a surprisingly nice arc on his shots away from the hoop but has yet to translate the smooth mechanics into smooth efficiency. He made just four of his 25 jump shots attempts (16%) beyond 17 feet last season and often attempted those shots with his feet either on or within the three-point line – showing a disregard for court awareness.
He’s not comfortable nor willing as a passer, as evidenced by his pedestrian 1.5 assists per-40 minutes and lackluster 9.1% assist rate. This could be explained by the fact that bad things tend to happen when Hammons tries to create anything for teammates offensively. He’s one of the most turnover prone players in the NCAA. Last season, he averaged 3.5 turnovers per-40 minutes – the highest rate for all big men in the NCAA. And per Synergy Sports Technology, Hammons turned the ball over on a whopping 17.2% of his possessions last season – a rate that simply won’t cut it at the NBA level.
The root of Hammons’ turnovers comes from his rigid footwork, which often leads to traveling violations. From December 8th to January 21st, Hammons was demoted to the bench, before a recalibration of focus brought him back to the starter’s role.
While his movements are often mechanical, he actually does have decent mobility for a player of his size. He’s not explosive but he gets off the ground for dunks with surprising quickness and finishes strong when he has momentum.
His mobility could eventually develop into a strong suit as a diver in pick-and-rolls at the next level. He has enormous hands and, with his wingspan, he should be an excellent lob target for his guards on alley oops.
Hammons’ inconsistent motor is a major red flag in his game. He was held under 10 points in about a third of his team’s games last season and finished with five or less total rebounds in about a quarter of his team’s games. He’s lowered his foul rate to a passable 4.2 fouls per-40 minutes but still commits unnecessary fouls early in the game which forces him to sit out on the action with consistency.
Overall, at 23 years old, what you see is likely what you’ll get with Hammons at the next level. He’s a physical specimen with the mobility and skill-level to develop into a solid rotation player in the NBA. Still, as a big man, he is a mediocre rebounder and is far too sporadic with his effort-level, not displaying anywhere near the type of intensity you’d like to see on a consistent basis. Still, with his size, length, skill-level, and rim-protection prowess, he’s someone who will be getting looks for many years to come due to the scarcity of players at his position with similar attributes.
From DraftExpress.com http://www.draftexpress.com/#ixzz3u1u7meb6