The Trail Blazers, after trading the No. 16 pick to the Rockets in a package for Robert Covington on Monday, selected Washington State wing CJ Elleby with the No. 46 pick in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft. Elleby, a 6-foot-6 floor spacer, posted 18.4 points per game as a sophomore.
Now that the pick is in, here is a quick look at Elleby’s profile.
Charles James “CJ” Elleby | SG | Washington State
Height: 6’6.5” | Wingspan: 6’7” | Weight: 200
PTS: 18.4 | REB: 7.8 | STL: 1.8 | FG%: 39.6 | 3P%: 33.9
Elleby’s high-motor and willingness to fight for possessions headline his NBA hopes. On the glass, the Federal Way native is a natural and instinctive rebounder. Even when he doesn’t have position, Elleby finds a way to slice around opponents to secure the ball. Defensively, he has solid timing when invading passing lanes. Yes, he can get caught gambling, but he works hard to regain proper positioning if he misses on a steal attempt. Both of those traits were reflected in his output last season. He finished with the sixth-most rebounds and the most steals in the Pac-12. Along with those numbers, Elleby earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 First Team for his efforts.
When it comes to scoring, Elleby’s profile gets a little....rough. He doesn’t possess an explosive first step, which limits his ability to score off the dribble. When he does put the ball on the deck, he struggles to protect the ball through contact. Elleby too often dribbles into trouble and he hasn’t shown that he can reliably generate attempts for his teammates once he is stymied. Last year, his per 40 assist averaged clocked in at 2.2, slightly lower than his per 40 turnover average of 2.6.
Outside of his limited game off the dribble, Elleby’s shooting percentages dipped significantly during his sophomore season. His less-than-conventional shot mechanics combined with a larger billing on opposing scouting reports to generate a tough set of efficiency numbers. From beyond the arc, Elleby’s three-point percentage went from 41.4 percent as a freshman to 33.9 percent as a sophomore. Due to his struggles off the dribble and from distance, he posted a sub-40 field goal percentage through 32 starts last season.
On the mechanics front, Elleby’s lefty jumper often starts with a cross-body gather that is similar to Lonzo Ball’s original form. From there, his release resembles Al-Farouq Aminu’s over-the-head, catapult-style launch. As odd as that all sounds, it is relatively effective when he is given space on the three-point line. When Elleby is under pressure or forced to shoot quickly in pull-up situations, his mechanics limit his chances for success.
Overall, Elleby is a high-motor player that warrants attention from opposing defenses on the perimeter. In the realm of second-round picks, those are two attributes that often translate to a roster spot. The Blazers have a proven development system, and Elleby’s willingness to work inside the margins could earn him praise from coach Terry Stotts’ staff.