RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Tyler HoneycuttPosted by rtmsf on June 6th, 2011
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Tyler Honeycutt
Height/Weight: 6’8, 187 lbs.
NBA Position: Small Forward
Projected Draft Range: Late First Round
Overview: In his two seasons at UCLA, Honeycutt showed a little bit of everything. He led the Pac-10 in blocked shots as a sophomore, he proved a solid man defender, he’s a capable scorer with a good-looking jumper, he improved his three-point range, he can get in the lane and score, and he’s got great vision and passing ability for a player of his size. Still, Honeycutt leaves Westwood as something of a disappointment. His field goal percentage dropped drastically as a sophomore (from nearly 50% down to almost 40%). His assist-to-turnover ratio fell drastically as well, mostly due to his tendency to turn the ball over way too much (he had eight games with five or more turnovers). And he built a reputation among Bruin faithful as a guy who was more interested in impressing the NBA scouts than he was in winning games. A closer look at some of the numbers shows that Honeycutt’s FG% dropped so precipitously due to the fact that he was taking a lot more perimeter jumpers – after shooting just 29 threes as a freshman, he shot 152 as a sophomore, making 36% of those. And, as a result, his true shooting percentage (taking into account his three-point percentages and his free throw shooting) only dipped from 55% to 52%. But his ballhandling, his decision-making, and his aggressiveness did not improve correspondingly as a sophomore. He turns the ball over both as a result of his clumsy handle and his propensity towards making unnecessary passes, both areas of his game that will need to be shored up before he can contribute at the next level. And, the fact that he is a rail-thin 187 pounds means that until he adds strength, he can be easily overpowered by a large percentage of NBA small forwards. Nevertheless, he is a skilled and talented player who can develop into an NBA player with time and hard work.
Will Translate to the NBA: Despite the fact that he was called upon to handle the ball on a regular basis at UCLA, Honeycutt is comfortable playing off of the ball on offense. His jumper is a finished product – although his percentages haven’t yet peaked – and he is equally proficient as a spot-up shooter or running off of screens. This will make him a viable offensive player in the NBA even as he works to hone his ballhandling and decision-making. Throw in the fact that his long arms and defensive timing should allow him to continue being a shot-blocking threat at the next level and Honeycutt could earn minutes early in his NBA career.
Needs Work: First and foremost, Honeycutt needs to add strength. While he is a formidable defensive opponent in space, he is prone to getting backed down and out-muscled in close quarters. His frame is never going to support a ton of bulk, but he needs to be able to hold his own against the men at the next level. Perhaps related to that area is his need to prove his toughness. He did what he did at UCLA largely on talent alone and needs to show his desire to compete and scrap on a regular basis. Too often he was outworked and outhustled, and if that trend continues at his next stop, his stay in the NBA could be brief.
Comparison Players: Tayshaun Prince is the obvious answer – an impossibly long and skinny player capable of making highly improbable blocks while flashing a versatile and skilled game at the offensive end. Of course, Prince has always had a killer instinct and aggressive offensive personality that Honeycutt has yet to display, so it is the lack of those types of intangibles that keep Honeycutt from projecting to the type of success Prince has had.
Best Case Scenario: Honeycutt grows up both physically and mentally and turns into a hard-working professional without too much prodding. Picked near the back of the first round, he winds up on a winning team and he takes the opportunity to learn from a veteran or two in his first NBA stop. Meanwhile, his defensive ability and jumper earn him a spot towards the back end of the in the rotation, allowing him to get used to the speed of the game at the next level as he works on cleaning up his handle and making better passes.
2014 Projection: Taking a step back from the sunshine and roses above, the fact is, there probably isn’t a 2011-12 season. Meaning Honeycutt’s rookie season is 2012-13, where he likely gets a healthy dose of the D-League in order to work on his offensive game. However, if Honeycutt uses those two seasons to work on his body, and if his mind withstands the rigors of a lockout and a trip through D-League cities like Bakersfield and Sioux Falls, 2014 could be the year he earns a rotation spot as a designated defender with a capable offensive game.
Best NBA Fit: With the second-to-last pick in the first round, the Spurs nab Honeycutt as the possible future replacement for Richard Jefferson. Honeycutt can immediately earn some minutes spelling Jefferson, giving the aging squad a much-needed burst of athleticism and helping to tighten up the defense on the second team. And, Honeycutt will also get a chance to be around veterans like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker and see how championship-caliber NBA veterans work.
Scout’s Take (Chris Denker from Netscouts Basketball): “super skinny and needs to get stronger… good feet… will be a matchup issue with his quickness… shot blocking won’t come into play, but can he guard?… shoots the ball well…”