Shooting is a skill that is more valuable in the NBA now more than it has ever been before. And it has become so essential to the game that players can make a name for themselves on shooting alone if they’re good enough. This could be what brought NBA draft prospect Matthew Hurt to the Los Angeles Clippers’ radar.
Last week, Darren Wolfson of KSTP-TV in Minneapolis reported that the Clippers were one of several teams that Hurt had a workout scheduled with.
The Clippers, at the moment, own just the No. 25 pick in the draft. Hurt is projected to be a late second-round pick, so L.A.’s chances at grabbing him would be reliant on either a trade that gets it a second-round pick or free agency should Hurt go undrafted.
If the Clippers have a chance at Hurt, they should expect not just a shooter but an efficient scorer as well.
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Hurt declared for the NBA draft following two seasons at Duke. The 6-foot-9 forward was most recently recognized by the ACC as the conference’s Most Improved Player and a member of the All-ACC First Team. His 18.3 points per game as a sophomore was also enough to make him the leading scorer of the ACC.
His scoring averaged was just one notable improvement he made following his freshman season.
In his first year, Hurt had averages of 9.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game. Shooting-wise, he shot 48.7% from the field and 39.3% on 3-pointers. This past season, Hurt’s numbers went up considerably. In addition to his average of 18.3 points, he also posted 6.2 rebounds per game and became a more efficient scorer, shooting 55.6% from the field and 44.4% on 3-pointers.
With the improvements that Hurt made, he proved himself to be the kind of player who can make the most of his playing time. He boosted his productivity and efficiency when given more minutes.
As a scorer, he doesn’t need to rely on others. Jonathan Wasserman at Bleacher Report highlighted Hurt’s confidence as a shot creator. This could make him a more attractive addition to any team, because he wouldn’t necessarily have to rely on others to make an impact in the way certain catch-and-shoot-type players do.
Hurt can do more than just be a forward who will stretch defenses with his long-range scoring ability. Alan Lu at NBA Scouting Live called Hurt as a “solid low post scorer.” So he has potential to be a scoring threat in the paint as well.
If Hurt does get drafted, he’ll be making history, as ESPN’s Jonathan Givony pointed out:
“Hurt will be only the second player in the past 30 years of college basketball to be drafted after shooting over 63% inside the arc and 44% outside it, along with Creighton’s Doug McDermott.”
McDermott has spent the past three of his seven years in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers. While McDermott was a more prolific scorer in college than Hurt has been, Hurt could find himself with a solid place in the league if his efficient scoring and high-level long-range shooting translates to the NBA.
While Hurt’s offensive game is appealing, the same cannot be said for his defense.
Eric Gim at The Chronicle highlighted the struggles that Hurt had defensively with switching and working through screens. Gim also brought up athleticism as a concern, and the defensive evaluation was similar for Kevin Connelly at Ball Durham. In terms of interior defense, Hurt may have troubles because of the limited lateral quickness that Brian Geisinger at ACCSports.com brought up.
Without improvements on the defensive ends, his potential will be limited and remain heavily reliant on his ability to bring his shooting prowess to the NBA.