Skylar Mays comes into the NBA draft as one of the more experienced prospects available. He arrived at LSU highly touted out of powerhouse Findlay Prep and turned into a four-year starter for the Tigers. Mays improved, especially offensively, every season in Baton Rouge. He is a bit undersized to play the shooting guard at the NBA level, but he can make up for that with his physicality and scoring ability.
Mays' shooting numbers steadily rose throughout his four years at LSU, culminating in his best season this past year when he averaged 16.7 points a game. Overall, he shot just over 49 percent from the field his senior year, up from 42 percent the previous season.
As a guard, it's no surprise the bulk of his offensive success comes right at the basket. His bigger size when playing the point works in his favor, giving him the ability to work through traffic and take contact while finishing at the rim. Mays' two-point percentage is excellent at nearly 55 percent.
And the one area he needed to improve shooting-wise was his three-point percentage. Mays transformed from a 31 percent three-point shooter his junior year to a better than 39 percent shooter from beyond the arc his senior season. That is a telling stat to me, to raise an important part of his game by so much while taking an average of four three-pointers a game.
Mays has the versatility to play both the point and the shooting guard, though his size will preclude him from primarily playing two guard. However, his size does work in his favor when it comes to rebounding, as does his athleticism.
Mays is also a good defender, coming up with nearly two steals a game. His larger frame allows him to stay in front of point guards as well as bang around with wings.
Though experience has improved Mays' game, it doesn't work in his favor at the draft. He will turn 23 in September so he's one of the older players in this year's draft. I don't like that age is a negative, but that's the way of the NBA so it's important to note.
Mays did improve every year, so that's something to counter the age argument. He's still on the upward learning trajectory.
As mentioned, Mays is also undersized to play the shooting guard at the NBA level. At just 6-foot-4, he will be one of the shorter wings when at that position, so he will have trouble getting good offensive looks when defended well. And on the flip side, he could struggle defending the longer wings in the league, even with his 6-7 wingspan.
Mays can be a streaky shooter - when he's hot, he's hot - especially from deep. But when he's not ... well, you know. Take one of his last games for LSU against Arkansas. Mays was terrific from deep, shooting 5 of 7 from three, but was just 3 for 10 elsewhere on the court. There are full game examples too. One game he'd shine offensively, then the next be held to low double-digit or even single-digit scoring numbers.
For the Sixers, who are looking for depth on their bench, Mays could help round out the shooting role for the reserves and provide a spark with his threes. I would envision him getting his fair share of playing time at the G-League level. This would enable him to learn on the fly and be a call-up for the team to see how he's developed.
His versatility to play both guard positions is also helpful for most teams, including the Sixers, who value players who can play different positions and in a variety of schemes. Mays is a likely mid-second round pick, a spot where the Sixers have two selections currently with the 49th and 59th picks.
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