The NBA is back! Adam Silver’s plan has the Association set to begin on July 30th, and conclude in late September. But October 15th is the day that Syracuse fans have been waiting for since the end of last basketball season. That’s when Elijah Hughes learns his NBA future.
Hughes is a great fit for the NBA shooting guard spot at 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, and is mature both on and off the court. Anyone who has watched a SU game in the past 2 years is aware of the skills the ECU transfer possesses. However, NBA scouts aren’t exactly looking at Hughes in the same way. Here are the cliff notes from NBA writers and scouts on Hughes:
Positives: Scoring off the dribble, movement without the ball, decent shooter (good shot form), quick and athletic, good shot blocker for his size
Negatives: Forces shots (partially due to Syracuse offensive style), played in a zone defense in college, streaky shooter, rebounding
While I agree with these evaluations, I think the negatives attributed to Hughes are due to things that are outside of his control. Hughes was the only real creator on last year’s team, and the de facto “last shot” guy, relied on to take plenty of shots against some great defenses. While he could stand to shoot more consistently, Hughes shot at a 37% clip from deep in his sophomore season when he wasn’t the primary ball handler, which he won’t be in the NBA.
The absence of any man-to-man film is a huge minus (and again something you can’t blame on Hughes), considering that NBA teams aren’t conducting scouting workouts. Hopefully there is an NBA combine so Hughes will have a chance to show his defensive abilities.
Hughes is set to be a “3 and D” guy in the NBA, a player that won’t be a primary offensive initiator, but will be relied on to lock down a scorer and make catch-and-shoot threes. He also could run offense with a bench unit.
Hughes is regarded as an early second round pick by most mock drafts. Some even have him going late in the first. These are projections, of course, and teams have been known to reach for players that they like instead of taking the best available player. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him spend a year in the G-League, like Oshae Brissett did this year with the 905 Raptors, and become a NBA regular in a couple years.