Justin Wright-Foreman could be the scorer the Pacers need to pick in the NBA draft

TOWSON, MD - JANUARY 11: Justin Wright-Foreman #3 of the Hofstra Pride takes a foul shot during a college basketball game against the Towson Tigers at SECU Arena on January 11, 2018 in Towson, Maryland. The Pride won 76-73. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
TOWSON, MD - JANUARY 11: Justin Wright-Foreman #3 of the Hofstra Pride takes a foul shot during a college basketball game against the Towson Tigers at SECU Arena on January 11, 2018 in Towson, Maryland. The Pride won 76-73. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Can Justin Wright-Foreman make an impact in the NBA, or should the Indiana Pacers avoid taking the smaller sized guard in the draft?

Being small in the NBA in 2019 is difficult. With the league ever trending towards bigger players, surviving as a small requires a rare level of excellence.

Don’t have an elite pull-up jumper like Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, or Trae Young? Aren’t an elite shot maker like Kyrie Irving or Lou Williams? Not a generational floor general like Chris Paul? Probably not good enough.

The above statement makes drafting small guards a risky proposition. If a player is not clearly special, drafting him high is a risk.

And if a player profiles as nothing more than a backup point guard, it’s probably not worth drafting him. One of the diminutive guards with a real chance of being something is Justin Wright-Foreman, six-foot-two senior out of Hofstra.

One of the paths to value for small guards is elite pull-up shooting and this is Justin Wright-Foreman’s calling card. In fact, Justin Wright-Foreman is the best shooter in the 2019 draft.

Despite all of his warts, Wright-Foreman’s pull-up incandescence drives his draft case. His three-point volume as a whole is wildly impressive, shooting 42.5 percent on 254 attempts, with a massive 46.3 percent of his threes being unassisted.

Confirmed: Justin Wright-Foreman can shoot

As a pull-up shooter, JWF is dominant in every sense. With a good enough handle and quickness, he can get to wherever he wants and doesn’t need much space to get his shot off. His shot motion is fluid and smooth.

Around the college three-point line, Wright-Foreman’s shot does not falter in the presence of contests. Easily elevating over the defense, he drains the off-balance shot in transition.

Extending his pull-up out to NBA range with a high level of consistency will be a key for JWF’s NBA projection. If he can be one of the elite pull-up shooters in the NBA, I could easily envision Wright-Foreman sticking around in a Lou Williams type role despite his many downsides.

His overall scoring package is as elite as his pull-up shooting. He scored 27 points per game, second in the nation, on ridiculous efficiency (.637 true shooting percentage). Justin Wright-Foreman’s overall scoring volume and efficiency are historically fantastic.

Since 2008, JWF is one of three players with 250+ three-point attempts, 150+ rim attempts shooting 65 percent at the rim, along with Jimmer Fredette in 2011 and Buddy Hield in 2016.

Shooting 42.5 percent on 254 attempts from three, 68.8 percent on 154 attempts at the rim and 48.7 percent on all other two pointers, Justin Wright-Foreman is the definition of a three-level scorer.

In fact, since 2008, JWF is the only college player with 150 rim attempts at 65+ percent, 100 two-point jumpers at 45+ percent and 200 three-pointers at 40+ percent.

On film, his scoring brilliance is as evident as it is on the stat sheet. At the rim, Wright-Foreman excels with his touch and creativity. Teams will overplay him off-ball on the perimeter to compensate for his shooting and Wright-Foreman regularly exploits his gravity. He cuts backdoor, finishing through contact with touch.

He’s creative opening windows for himself to score, dispatching the plodding big with the euro step before ballooning the ball into the rim.

Wright-Foreman’s immaculate touch is most apparent on plays like this, where he patiently splits the pick and roll before uncorking this circus shot, feathering down into the net.

He’ll need more than scoring to survive in the NBA

Despite his size and lack of elite athleticism, I have no doubt Justin Wright-Foreman will be able to score. However, he will need more than scoring (assuming it does not reach uber-elite levels) to survive in the NBA. The next step is improving his passing ability, which is inconsistent at this point.

A trade-off of JWF’s comical volume are some boneheaded shots, a habit which I worry could damn him in the NBA where he won’t be an all-time efficient scorer. Shots like these remove a lot more value in the NBA then they do in college.

As for his passing, Justin Wright-Foreman flashes high-level vision at times, but often reverts to his too ball-dominant ways. Even when JWF is looking to pass–which doesn’t happen consistently–his reads and accuracy aren’t always precise.

Because he was an offensive juggernaut, Wright-Foreman often saw double teams running the PNR. He occasionally struggled to handle them, here trying and failing to sling the rock through the double team.

When his passing was on, Justin Wright-Foreman looked unstoppable. In his game against NC State, JWF’s passing was amazing. He repeatedly made NBA level passes, the types he would have to make if he were to hit his high outcome.

Showing off his PNR mastery, JWF, patiently dribbles, probing the defense, right when the weak-side tagger returns to his man, Wright-Foreman floats a pass over the top to the roller.

Here’s an on time and on target skip pass, the defense-cracking type, the ones forcing the defense to scramble and opening up shots for the offense:

Wright-Foreman’s shooting gravity is immense, so when he harnessed his gravity as a passer, good things happened. Defenses keyed in on his shot, leaving their assignments.

All five pairs of Towson eyes lock onto Wright-Foreman approaching the paint, forgetting the big man wide open in the middle.

Though he won’t be an offensive engine in the NBA, it is not hard to project Wright-Foreman’s offense moving forward. His defense is equally easy to project: Justin Wright-Foreman is going to be a complete sieve on defense. Though it is a noisy and imperfect metric, JWF’s -3. Defensive Box Plus-Minus is, to say the least, problematic.

During my research, I only found one player with a -3 or worse DPBM in college who made any type of impact in the NBA, Bryn Forbes. NBA teams have drafted only five NBA players since 2008 with a season of -3 DPBM or worse, those being Andrew Goudelock, Kevin Murphy, Marcus Thornton (no, not that Marcus Thornton, this Marcus Thornton), Joseph Young (yup, that Joseph Young) and Tyler Harvey. Not the best company, to say the least.

Justin Wright-Foreman usually tries on defense: here’s a nice read and effort steal.

Being six-foot-two with non-elite athleticism, strength or instincts will almost always lead to an awful college (let alone NBA) defender. Teams guillotined him on screens.

Drivers knocked him on his backside like he was a child.

And off-ball players cut behind him for easy scores when JWF watched the ball.

Even considering the lengths of his potential offensive greatness, Justin Wright-Foreman’s defense makes it difficult to rationalize spending anything more than a late second round pick on him. If he cracks a rotation, JWF will be one of the worst defenders in the NBA. To make up for his defense, he’d have to be good enough on offense to compensate.

Him being an offensive dynamo is unlikely, but it is possible, which gives Wright-Foreman some intrigue. Indiana is starved for shot creation behind Victor Oladipo.

If he hits his high outcome, they have another shot-maker to spell Oladipo and pressure defenses. Indiana, if any team, has the defensive personnel, coaching and scheme to hide Wright-Foreman as much as one could.

Next. Turner vs Embiid for the All-Defensive team. dark

If the Pacers believe in their staff, Justin Wright-Foreman could make for a decent gamble with the 50th pick. If not, he’s a player Indiana should look to bring in for their Summer League squad.