By Ethan Teo
Being drafted into the NBA is every basketball player’s dream. Long hours and hard work are what help players achieve that goal. Former Stanford student-athletes Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell have shown that dedication and the determination to follow their passions can turn a dream into a reality.
Josh Huestis: 29th pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Averaging 11 points, eight rebounds and one assist per game in his senior year, small forward Josh Huestis may not necessarily have the eye-popping statistics that immediately attract franchises. However, Huestis possesses all the characteristics of a glue guy: versatile defense, aggressive rebounding and relentless hustle. Furthermore, his extreme athleticism has helped him become an incredibly intimidating player. His 38.5-inch maximum vertical leap puts him in the top 10 of the entire 2014 draft class in that category. With that kind of athleticism, Huestis was able to lead Stanford in blocks with an average of 1.9 per game.
In addition to his solid physical attributes and hard work, Huestis has evolved as a more consistent shooter throughout his years at Stanford. In his freshman year, Huestis shot an ugly 20 percent from downtown, but by his senior year, he was making nearly 34 percent of his 3-pointers. With this kind of improvement, we can all see Huestis’ tremendous upside in the NBA.
Just like any other player, Huestis also has some weaknesses that may stunt his growth and limit his productivity in the association. His biggest problem is that he struggles to create shots for himself due to his lack of dribble moves and footwork. Even if he is able to play well defensively, he will get limited minutes in short bursts if he is not able to score.
Josh Huestis’ most accurate NBA player comparison is Andre Iguodala. Both are athletic small forwards that have lockdown defensive skills who often work as glue guys for their teams. Both Iguodala and Huestis have limited scoring abilities but have improved their shooting over the years.
Huestis may get limited minutes in his rookie year and struggle statistically. However, as his offensive arsenal continues to expand and he becomes a more confident ball handler, Huestis could emerge as a key player to his team. He may not ever become an All-Star, but will likely help his team win at least one NBA Championship in his career.
Dwight Powell: 45th pick to the Charlotte Hornets (traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers)
Dwight Powell is not your typical power forward. He has exceptional athleticism and IQ for his position that allow him to outplay his opponents. He can score in a variety of ways, but playing face-up is his forte due to his strong motor skills. His jump shot is still inconsistent, but his stroke is smooth and he should be able to improve his consistency in no time.
Powell is also averaging 3.8 assists per 40 minutes, which is incredibly high for a power forward that stands at 6-foot-11. For the most part, he makes smart passes that are not forced, thanks largely to his tremendous basketball IQ.
Even with a below-average wingspan and a skinny frame, Powell is a talented defender. His lateral quickness is key to his ability to guard multiple positions, even as a tall power forward. He is especially good at defending pick and rolls by being able to quickly switch either onto a guard or back into the post.
The main concern regarding Powell is his lack of aggressiveness when crashing the boards or playing in the post. He is an inconsistent rebounder who will struggle to score in the NBA if he does not start attacking the basket with more aggression. Failing to do so would limit his ceiling as a stretch-4 role player who can occasionally knock down jumpers.
Powell’s playing style is similar to that of Pau Gasol, with his quick footwork and smooth jump shot. The only thing that Powell lacks is the set of consistent post moves that Gasol possesses.
With four years of college ball experience under his belt, Powell may be one of the most NBA-ready players looking for his break. He has the quickness and the IQ to make some nice plays for the Cavs this upcoming season. However, he may not fully develop for a few years while he develops a solid post game and a more aggressive playing style.
Contact Ethan Teo at ethanteo99 ‘at’ gmail.com.