2019 NBA Draft Breakdown: #30 Ty Jerome
Ty Jerome leaves college and enters the NBA as a national champion. He was, at an early point in his career, thought of as too unathletic to make it to the NBA. Today, however, he is a borderline first round pick. Jerome will fit into NBA systems not as a point guard, but rather as a wing where his spacing, quick decision making, and high basketball IQ will play king. He's a fairly weak on-ball defender, and his lack of quickness will be a very strong detriment to his game in a league of uber-quick guards that will surely be able to beat him off the dribble a high percentage of the time.
In order to be more successful at the next level, Jerome must become more aggressive when attacking the basket and making some of the more elite passes. He doesn't have a problem with his vision - which you can credit to his 6'5" frame - but he isn't willing enough to get into the teeth of the defense, and when there, to push a more difficult pass. His tentativeness, which can be improved, plays a large part in his high catch-all stats as he rarely turns the ball over.
As noted, Jerome scores an extremely high Box Plus-Minus. In 2018-19, he finished 72nd among all college basketball seasons since 2010 and was a team-leading +12 overall. Via Second Spectrum tracking data, he was in the 99th percentile in Spot-Up PPP at 1.37, and 82nd as a Pick and Roll Ball Handler when including passes at 0.993 PPP. His defense is largely untracked, but his defensive spot-up numbers do well do show his off-ball defensive wit. He's in the 65th percentile there on 122 possessions.
If Jerome hits his ceiling, he'll find himself in a creation role off of the bench. His lack of athleticism to keep up with quicker guards defensively will limit him from ever becoming a starter-caliber player, but his near-elite shooting and basketball IQ will prove him to be a formidable NBA talent.
Comparison: Marco Belinelli
Ty has terrific vision, but his lack of aggressiveness to find an elite pass and subsequently passing to a semi-open three-point shooter worries me about him potentially becoming a full-time NBA point guard. For him to make a step into a starting PG role, which isn't likely to happen as he's much more of an off-ball creator than an initiator, he'll have to become more aggressive on-ball in attacking the teeth of the defense and then finding the open man.
Blink and you might miss it, but here's an example of Jerome's lack of aggressiveness with the ball. He's in an off-ball role that he will be playing in the NBA. He catches the screen, and, in this instance, his vision is away from the roll man. You can see here that the roll man's defender makes a mistake in playing up on Jerome, and Jerome could have found an elite pass to Jay Huff, his screener. But he makes the pass to the perimeter before the chance can be found.
Here, Jerome cuts from the corner and sees his big man get free underneath the hoop, but he doesn't make the pass. He kicks it out to a contested three-point attempt. In order to realize his potential, Jerome needs to be able to find these passes consistently.
When Ty does assert himself in making an elite pass, though, he shows an NBA-elite level of vision. Here he finds Diakete open underneath the hoop, and swings a pin-point pass with his right hand.
He's a great decision maker in the pick and roll, and though he passes low here, he reads the defense perfectly and finds his roll man when the opposing big steps up.
Jerome's NBA-level value, though, is largely as an off-ball creator. Here he finds the holes in the defense, both for himself and for the big, spaces the court, attacks as soon as he gets the ball (which is important as he's not quick enough to be able to beat a set NBA defender), and then finds the open man when the defense commits. If he can do this at a high-level in the NBA, he could become an eventual starter in a Kyle Anderson-Gordon Hayward type role.
Jerome is a solid scorer in the pick and roll at the college level, but it's worrying that his lack of explosiveness in the NBA could take away the advantage he can gain with his IQ. His threat to pass makes him harder to stop in a pick and roll situation, but a pick and roll is typically ineffective when a defender can catch up to the ball handler, which will likely happen often in the NBA. As a scorer, he's grown towards being more of an ISO scorer/creator, which is largely because of his Pick and Roll scoring numbers.
The biggest worry in Jerome's offensive game is his ability to score in Isolation. If he's to become an NBA point guard, he'll be often asked to create off of the dribble and make advantage situations, which he isn't able to do. His Isolation numbers are rather low, and, as you see here, he can play himself into taking bad shots when a play breaks down.
And here you see his tentativeness in attacking the basket. He needs to be aggressive in getting to the rim once this advantage is created.
Jerome struggles as an ISO scorer, and that reflects in his synergy stats. He's rather good at scoring the ball in advantage situations, though. As a creator, he's great at reading the defense in the Pick and Roll, and that ability to find the roll man when the defense commits plays to his favor as he grades out as an above-average scorer in the pick and roll when the opportunity presents itself.
More importantly, though, is Jerome's ability in catch and shoot situations. He grades out in the collective 93rd percentile, when weighting guarded and unguarded attempts equally. When looking at his comparisons, he's one of the best players both in catch and shoot and off screen situations. Take caution, however, because with a low sample, we see some odd shooting patterns, as outlined by Gordon Hayward's catch and shoot numbers. Hayward had a very poor year as a shooter in his Sophomore year in college, but the entirety of his college numbers suggested that he would become a B-Level shooter.
If he fills out to his ability, Jerome will become a B-level NBA shooter. Not elite, but good enough to be a solid floor spacer and to give him opportunities to capitalize on defenses overcommitting to his shooting. He lands among players like Courtney Lee, Gordon Hayward, and Gary Harris when comparing some of today's best NBA shooters to his college numbers.
Jerome has got solid form, a quick release, and doesn't hesitate when given an open opportunity to shoot the ball. This will make him a solid floor spacer, regardless of his percentages.
Jerome's defense is likely what will prevent him from ever becoming an NBA starting level talent. He's an above-average off-ball defender, but he is consistently burned by smaller, faster guards. When I tracked the games, he only prevented blowby opportunities 25% of the time and was blown by, effectively creating an advantage situation for the offense, the other 75% of the time. There isn't much he can do to prevent this. You see slower defenders like Joe Ingles and Kyle Anderson able to use footwork and positioning to outweigh this, which you have to hope Jerome is able to learn to do. There seems to be a very concrete ceiling for him as a below-average defender in the NBA, though.
In both of the above clips, there isn't much to say. In the first clip, he's a bit unlucky as one of his teammates blocks his path, but it seems he'd already been beaten. In the second, Jerome is lucky to have a solid rim protector like Diakete behind him, but he isn't able to keep up with his man and doesn't stand much of a chance once he loses a step. NBA-level guards will thrive when blowing by a defender.
Off-ball, Jerome has room to grow, and luckily his lack of athleticism won't hold him back there. Occasionally he'll get lost in a play and lose his man. Below is an example of this, and a better NBA level point guard would likely be able to find Ty's man open in the corner.
And in this situation, Jerome needs to step up on the roll man to prevent the pass and subsequent easy layup, and then retreat back to his own man. He does show a glimpse of this, as it looks like he may take a small jab step to throw the passer off. Watching him, he did do a fairly good job of forcing pick-ups when a teammate was blown by, but there's still room to grow.
Similar to the catch-all play I did for Jerome's creation, here is an example of his catch-all value defensively. He's got a high IQ and knows how and when to switch, he can hold his own in the post when switched down, he closes out defenders well, and he does a solid job of contesting the shot.
Due to his lack of quickness and aggressiveness, Ty Jerome will likely never become an NBA starting level talent, but reasonably can become a very solid shooter and off-ball creator at the next level. He'll likely be a bench shooting guard that is asked to create off of advantage situations, and that's the role he should play. His impact metrics, like Box Plus-Minus grade him out as a NBA caliber talent, but a lot of his defensive mistakes were covered up by solid rim protection, and his lack of aggressiveness and athleticism means less in the college game, with a longer shot clock and slower opposition. In an average draft, I'd take him between the early and mid-second round and try to develop aggressiveness and quick decision making to go along with his high basketball IQ and near-elite level shooting.