In almost any pre-NBA draft process (or pre-NFL draft process for that matter), there’s someone who rises unexpectedly. During this year’s NBA Draft Combine, the No. 1 fast riser appears to be VCU guard Nah’Shon Hyland.
During the first combine scrimmage on Thursday, Hyland scored a game-high 17 points (7-for-11 from the floor; 3-for-5 from beyond the arc) with six rebounds and four assists over 23 minutes. To this point, he has mostly been projected as an early second-round pick. But Brett Siegel of NBA Analysis Network is among those reporting Hyland’s rise up draft boards.
As is the case with many NBA draft prospects, Hyland has become an interesting projection. After a mostly non-descript freshman season at VCU (9.0 points per game), he averaged 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game last year on his way to earning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. He was a double-figure scorer in 23 of 24 games, with three 30-plus point efforts.
Here’s what Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report wrote about Hyland, while ranking and putting him in the category of “Traditional Shooting Guard”.
Creativity, shooting and positional length should help Hyland find success as a scoring guard. He’ll need a role that values his tough shot-making in streaks and accepts his limited playmaking and presumed inefficiency inside the arc.
After shooting over 43 percent on 3-pointers as a freshman, Hyland converted a little over 37 percent as a sophomore. He notably improved from the foul line, going from 66.7 percent as a freshman to 86.2 percent last year.
As for the “presumed inefficiency inside the arc” Wasserman pointed to, Hyland’s true shooting percentage, which factors in all shooting (2-pointers, 3-pointers, free throws) was 59.6 last season.
Hyland (6-foot-3, 169 pounds) has drawn comparisons to Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford. He’s clearly got work to do as a facilitator. An uptick in turnovers last year (3.1 per game) is a concern. But that’ll happen with a usage rate that pushes toward 32 percent, as his did. Even with Shaka Smart long gone, you don’t see the floor at VCU if you don’t defend at a high level. So Hyland passes that test. And he’s passing the test in a showcase for NBA teams.