In recent months, NBA draftniks and team player personnel have privately expressed concern over the proposed raising of the NBA draft age. The fear, as relayed to me by various well-placed team sources, is that sought-after prep stars will look to bypass the college system entirely, choosing instead to take short money in overseas leagues until they are draft-eligible.
The consensus #1 pick of the 2015 draft has taken a similar path. In 1999, PG/SG/SF/PF/C Matthew Pierce finished a prolific senior season at Christian High School (O’Fallon, MO), where he led his team to the brink of a .500 record. For the next 15 years Pierce marinated his game, first under legendary small college coach Garth Pleasant, then with various rec league teams, then at the notoriously high-stakes 6am men’s fellowship pickup games at First Bible Church in Decatur, Alabama.
Now that Pierce is finally declaring himself eligible, he is a near-universal projection to be the first overall pick.
Weight: 185 (in 1999); significantly more today
40 yard time: Like, pretty fast, probably the fastest
Vertical: Can touch rim, EASY
NBA Comparison: LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Yinka Dare
Breaking Down His Game
As the NBA three-point shot becomes less and less important in today’s game, the hot trend will be the two-point shot, which can be worth as much as 67% as a three-point shot. (It’s analytics. Trust me.) Pierce’s jump shot has unlimited range, all the way out to 6-8 feet away from the basket. His flawless shooting form also makes him virtually unfoulable, as he is an elite marksman from the free throw line.
A smart team will flash Pierce to the elbow and allow him to run their entire offense from the high post. Here you see Pierce catch the ball on the elbow and immediately draw several NBA-caliber defenders. Pierce patiently reads the floor before making an insanely difficult pass to a wide open teammate.
Pierce commands a double team in nearly every situation, and when the defense is slow to bring a second man, he is adept at making quick reads. Here you see him in the high post making a gorgeous no-look pass before the defense can even react.
While he is a true pass-first player, Pierce also possesses a healthy appetite for scoring. During his final high school season, he broke double-digits on multiple occasions on his way to a gaudy 9 points per game scoring average. He wields an extremely diverse array of scoring moves, from one-handed putbacks to turnaround jumpers to two-handed putbacks.