The 2020 NBA Draft is almost here, which means Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes will soon find out where he will be playing professionally. If he is selected, which he should be, he will be SU’s first player drafted since Tyler Lydon in 2017. Before Wednesday’s draft, check out Hughes’ profile and some possible destinations.
School: Syracuse University
Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Weight: 229 lbs.
Age: 22 yrs
Hughes began his collegiate career at East Carolina where he averaged eight points and two rebounds per game as a true freshman. The New York-native then transferred to Syracuse University. As a redshirt sophomore, he averaged 14 points, four rebounds, and just over a steal per game. The following season Hughes put together an All-ACC First Team campaign. He led the conference with 19 points per game, while adding five rebounds and and three assists per contest.
Hughes’ best part of his game is his shooting ability. He has deep range and can make shots in a plethora of ways. He is a solid pick and pop guy, while being just as good coming off the dribble and making his own shot. Hughes has shown that he is a great transition shooter, pulling up on a dime or using a quick jab step to get the defense off balance. Hughes is also a great cutter, finding the openings in a defense and showing off his high flying abilities.
Defensively, Hughes is an excellent shot blocker for his size. Only listed at 6’6”, he has fantastic instincts and timing on weak side blocks. Hughes averaged nearly a block per game at Syracuse last year, which is impressive for a wing player.
Hughes’ biggest weakness is every Syracuse player’s weakness– defense. He has only played zone defense at a high level, which just isn’t the NBA. Individual workouts and a combine would have helped Hughes with curbing that weakness, but those things didn’t happen.
Another issue for Hughes is his guard abilities. In college, he wasn’t the primary ball handler and when he was, it wasn’t too impressive. Hughes was okay, but he doesn’t have the ball skills to be a NBA-caliber ball handling guard. Plus, he averaged over two turnovers per game last season, which was a result of questionable passes. Those are two things that are easy to correct with practice however.
Hughes is also on the older side. Yes, he’s only 22, but in terms of the NBA Draft, that is old. Since he had to redshirt a season, he was in school for all four years. There are other comparable guys in terms of skill that are a little younger that may get the nod before him.
Hughes seems like a prototypical 3-and-D guy. Now, he may get to the league and outplay that role, but as of now that is how NBA teams see him. He is a late first round, but more likely early second round selection. With all of that, it makes you think younger teams would be intrigued with Hughes. So, here are some possible destinations under that thought process:
Pick 34 – Philadelphia 76ers
Pick 39 – New Orleans Pelicans
Pick 40 – Memphis Grizzlies
Pick 43 – Sacramento Kings
On the flip side, if Hughes has impressed enough in his draft preparations, a contending team could be enamored with him. They may want an older, more developed guy that can be a solid option midway down the bench. In that case, there are two real possibilities at the end of the first round:
Pick 24 – Milwaukee Bucks
Pick 28 – Los Angeles Lakers
Whether it’s a contender or not, Hughes has the talent and upside to make a roster and be a solid role player. From Syracuse to the pros, best of luck Elijah!