The Trail Blazers’ memorable postseason run might be over, but the the 2019 NBA Draft is right around the corner. Portland’s President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey currently has the No. 25 pick in the draft at his disposal and he will look to supplement the Blazers’ roster with a talented prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Today we look at St. John’s Red Storm point guard Shamorie Ponds.
- Height: 6’0.5”
- Weight: 180
- Shooting Hand: Left
- Position: PG
- Age: 20
- Projected Draft Range: 45-60
- PTS: 19.7 | Per 40: 22.4
- AST: 5.1 | Per 40: 5.8
- REB: 4.1 | Per 40: 4.7
- STL: 2.6 | Per 40: 3.0
- FG%: 45.3
- 3P%: 35.3
- FT%: 83.6
After three successful seasons in a major roll with the Red Storm, Ponds has proven he can carry an offense. The New York native uses a variety of crafty moves to get to his favorite spots on the court. At the point of attack, Ponds creates space by stringing together tight and balanced moves in quick succession. From spinning off a lurching defender to deftly stepping back, he has shown he can create attempts out of thin air. When working from beyond the arc, Ponds has expanded his range to the NBA three-point line. The majority of his work in half-court sets revolved around isolation. Despite his ball-dependent style, Ponds avoided turnovers and routinely found open teammates when defenses collapsed around him.
Defensively, Ponds has a knack for reading opponents and invading passing lanes. Instead of relying on physical gifts, he impacted the action with his instincts and experience.
Without experience and court awareness, Ponds is left with a fairly limited set of physical tools. As a point guard, Ponds would be considered undersized in the NBA. To further compound that issue, his skillset aligns closer to a shooting guard than a point guard.
Two major concerns face Ponds regarding his future production:
- Can he maintain his effectiveness in a reduced roll?
- From a size standpoint, will Ponds continue to find favorable opportunities in the paint?
Ponds’ assist numbers suggest he can take control of an organized offense, but the film reveals a different narrative. For the most part, the Red Storm’s scheme revolved around Ponds attacking then setting up teammates by default. His one-on-one skills should translate to a certain degree, but his fit as a complementary piece is murky at best.
Led by Ponds, St. John’s completed its first 20-win campaign since the 2014-15 season. Ponds captured headlines by crossing the 30-point threshold on four separate occasions and notched 25 points in a loss to Arizona State in the First Four round of the NCAA Tournament. His overall scoring numbers dipped slightly in his third year with the Red Storm, but he enjoyed an increase in assists and a reduction in turnovers. At the conclusion of the season, Ponds earned a spot on the All-Big East First Team for the second year in a row.
Given his second round projection, Ponds possesses a solid blend of scoring creativity for teams searching for a boost in the late stages of the draft. Despite a relatively low ceiling that is tied to a reserve guard archetype, he would provide potential suitors with injury insurance after he gets a feel for the NBA. On the positive side, Ponds’ scoring acumen at all three levels aligns with expectations for modern point guards. However, it is unclear if he has the physical profile to utilize those gifts against NBA-caliber defenses.
Ponds’ reserved upside coupled with his lack of versatility outside of the backcourt make him a questionable fit for the Trail Blazers. He will be 21 years old before Las Vegas Summer League gets underway, making him older than both Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons. Ponds’ potential placement in Portland could shift as the offseason unfolds. If the Blazers look to cut costs at the tail-end of the bench, buying back into the second round to select Ponds would make sense. He could bounce between the G League and emergency duty if Simons makes the shift up the depth chart.
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