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How NBA draft prospect Bouknight fits both Warriors and Kings originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
This is the fourth installment of a series breaking down the potential selections for both the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings in the 2021 NBA Draft.
The countdown is on. The 2021 NBA Draft quickly is approaching and the Warriors and Kings are studying prospect game tapes, making calls on background and holding under-the-radar interviews.
For one of the few times in recent memory, these two teams will be selecting in the same range, which means that they can impact each other’s draft strategy dramatically.
We’ve already taken a deep dive into Florida State’s Scottie Barnes, Arkansas’ Moses Moody and Keon Johnson out of Tennessee. Next up on the list is UConn’s James Bouknight, who is scheduled to get selected somewhere between No. 7 and No. 14 in the July 29 NBA Draft.
Stats: 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 44.7% FG, 29.3% 3-point FG
Age: 20 Height: 6-foot-4.75 Weight: 190 Wingspan: 6-foot-8.25
Bouknight skipped most of the combine activities, so his measurements are not 100 percent guaranteed. Saying that, there is enough information available to definitely state that he has good size and length for an NBA shooting guard.
He has a frame that can take on more bulk and his extra year in school has him more physically prepared for the rigors of the league.
In 15 games as a sophomore, Bouknight broke the 20 point barrier seven times and failed to score in double-figures just once. He scored a career-high 40 points against Creighton on Dec. 20 and he posted a pair of 20-point, 10-rebound double-doubles against Villanova and Georgetown.
Bouknight might be one of the best pure scorers in this year’s class. His 3-point numbers were down this season, but he’s a three-level scorer that could eventually become a solid No. 2 option at the next level.
The 20-year-old is a smooth dribbler and shot creator. He has no problem getting separation from his man and he has the ability to play through contact and get to the line.
While he needs to tighten up his mechanics from behind the arch, Bouknight has nice balance on his pull up jumper. He can attack the basket with either hand and he has the athleticism to finish above the rim.
In his second season at Connecticut, Bouknight excelled as a rebounder, especially on the defensive end. He has no problems mixing it up with the trees, posting a defensive rebounding rate of 15.1 percent.
Bouknight averaged a little over a steal per game and there is potential for him to improve in this area with his length and quickness. He’s a savvy basketball player, although his focus has been on one side of the court so far in his career.
Bouknight took a step back as a shooter in his sophomore campaign, but it looks like more of a blip on the radar than a trend. He was shooting the ball well in December, but an elbow injury cost him time.
He’s impressed in workouts and there is potential for him to be a solid 3-point sniper at the next level, especially if he isn’t the primary focal point of the defense.
While Bouknight was asked to carry a heavy offensive load, he isn’t much of a facilitator. He posted a usage rate of 31.6 percent and an assist rate of just 12.8 percent. His 1.8-to-2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio needs work.
In a draft filled with players with two-way potential, Bouknight projects as more of an offensive specialist. He has good length and he has potential as a defender, but he needs to get stronger if he’s going to hold his own at the NBA level.
Overall, Bouknight looks like a player that can walk in and score on day one, but he’s slightly one-dimensional and his inability to play multiple positions drops his value slightly as well.
Fit with Warriors
Pick No. 7 is a little high for Bouknight, but if they move down a few spots or he’s still on the board when the Warriors select at No. 14, they would have to strongly consider him.
Bouknight would fit great in-between Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in a three-guard set or off the bench as a first option with the second unit.
He needs to improve his consistency with his 3-point shot and learn to play off the ball, but his ability to create for himself would give the Warriors’ offense another dimension.
This is a high basketball IQ player with plenty of talent. He isn’t that far away from playing substantial minutes at the NBA level.
Fit with Kings
Sacramento is likely to focus on players that can fill defensive voids. That isn’t Bouknight’s forte, but it doesn’t mean that he’s out of the running at No. 9.
If the Kings come back with the same stack of guards that they finished last season with, there is no room for a player like Bouknight. But nothing is set in stone with the Kings’ roster and changes could be on the horizon.
There is a chance GM Monte McNair makes major moves and then all bets are off. This is the type of scorer that can be impactful off the bench early in his career with the potential for a lot more.
High end: Eric Gordon, CJ McCollum
Low end: Gary Harris, Alec Burks