Jacob breaks down Rasheed Sulaimon, a 6-4 senior guard for the Maryland Terrapins.
Rasheed Sulaimon arrived at Duke as a top-20 recruit in the class of 2012 and played so well as a freshman that it seemed inevitable that he would eventually make the NBA. Three years, an alleged sexual assault (the details of which remain murky), and one transfer to Maryland later, Sulaimon’s NBA prospects are now uncertain.
At 6’4 and nearly 200 pounds, Sulaimon is slightly undersized to play off the ball at the NBA level and lacks the ball handling skills and court creativity necessary to play point guard. He has a decent 6’7 wingspan which enables him to get into opponents’ passing lanes and force turnovers. Sulaimon averaged 2.0 steals per-40 minutes as a junior and had established himself as Duke’s lockdown perimeter defender before his eventual dismissal from the university in late January. He’s a good – not great – athlete and displayed advanced agility with his cuts on the offensive end and lateral movements on the defensive end.
Sulaimon took the ACC by storm as a freshman, averaging 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per-40 minutes. As his tenure at Duke went on though, his production plateaued. After starting 33 games as a freshman, Sulaimon was demoted to sixth man at the midway point in his sophomore season after Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood shined in the starting lineup. He reprised his sixth man role in a tumultuous junior year in which he averaged 15.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per-40 minutes in 20 games before the dismissal.
Though he’s had ample time to work on his game and frame, Sulaimon’s scoring and rebounding rates stagnated (albeit marginally, to 15.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per-40, respectively) and his off the court turmoil has negated whatever improvements he made as a defender in his three years on Tobacco Road.
Sulaimon’s best offensive attribute is as a jump shooter. He made 24-for-66 (36.4%) total jump shots as a junior and showed a consistency through his tenure at Duke to hit with deep range. Out of the catch-and-shoot, Sulaimon converted on 39.1% of his shots as a junior and was very accurate when left open. In his three seasons at Duke, Sulaimon made 37-of-84 of his unguarded catch-and-shoot opportunities (44%). Sulaimon’s quick release and strong lift on his shots results in a consistently smooth arc.
Sulaimon’s strong shooting forces opponents to play him tightly, but his strong first step and agility enable him to get to the rim frequently. His preferred offensive move is to drive right out of the pick-and-roll and use the backboard to bank in a fading layup on the right side. He’s not particularly effective finishing in traffic, hitting on less than half of his shots around the basket last season – per Synergy. Another red flag with Sulaimon’s game was that he took a major step back in drawing fouls over his junior season. After attempting 5.7 free throws per-40 as a sophomore, Sulaimon took just 3.4 per-40 as a junior and made just 66.7% of his free throws — a curious drop from the 80.2% he made as a freshman, possibly related to the off-court turmoil which eventually saw him suspended indefinitely.
Defensively, Sulaimon has the potential to be an elite defender at the next level. He has terrific lateral quickness and quick hands, both of which give opponents fits and make them think twice about trying to drive. He’s a fearless defender with a strong awareness of when picks are coming, which enables him to get around screens in time to recover on his man. He’s always been a bit of a gambler in the passing lane, which hurt Duke’s defense at times early in his college career. Last season, he turned those gambles into turnovers at a higher rate.
Overall, Sulaimon’s off the court allegations (which he, and his family have repeatedly denied) may be viewed as cause for concern on what would otherwise be an impressive on-court sample size. With his combination of perimeter shooting and strong on-ball defense, he has the potential to reinvent himself as a 3-and-D specialist if he resides himself to spotting up in the corners, but he has some passing prowess to possibly do more than that. Now playing in a new system alongside talented prospects such as Diamond Stone, Melo Trimble, and Jake Layman, Sulaimon’s best opportunity to contribute offensively will come as an off-ball sharpshooter. His defense, passing and experience will be invaluable as this team hopes to make a run in March, and if he can continue to rebuild his off-court reputation, which was damaged considerably over the past year, he could easily put himself back on the map as an NBA prospect.
From DraftExpress.com http://www.draftexpress.com/#ixzz3u1w6r3NF