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2020 NBA Draft Preview: Kira Lewis Jr

Alabama’s Kira Lewis Jr. is one of my favorite prospects in this years draft class. His shooting, length, and speed give him legit upside. He’s a bit of an interesting fit for the Hornets and they probably will be picking too high for him but I think he could possibly be one of the steals of the draft. Let’s dive into why.

Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama, G, 6’3, 165 pounds

Offense

Kira has two key skills that drive his offensive potential. First, it’s his speed. Kira is a terror in transition and in the half court and gets to the paint any time he wants.

Kira skies for the board (he’s a really good rebounding guard, around five boards a game) and is off to the races. He blazes by everyone and dishes to his teammate who gets fouled.

Not the best defense from Georgia but you can just see how much faster Kira is compared to everyone else. Kira would instantly improves his teams transition offense. Per synergy, he ranks in the 79th percentile. His combination of speed and length is terrifying in the open floor. Speed kills.

Kira’s speed is not only functional in transition but also in the half court. He can get by anyone:

Kira goes to work here. He gets Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans off of him with the double screens and dusts the big and finishes with a beautiful length extension.

This is probably my favorite Kira sequence of the season. Here he cooks Isaac Okoro (who might be the best perimeter defender in the country) and finishes at the rim.

It’s just easy for Kira. Gets into the paint, euro steps around the defender, bucket.

This is a valuable skill. Rim pressure is extremely important in the NBA. Kira’s ability to collapse defenses will give his teammates great looks. With the better spacing that the NBA provides, Kira should thrive.

The other thing with Kira is that he isn’t just a guy who can only get to the rim. Kira is a shooter as well. He has the outlines of a pretty special scoring prospect:

The shooting will translate. This year, he shot around 37% from 3 on about five attempts a game. His shooting has some versatility too. He’s best as a spot-up shooter as you can see in the above tweet but he has an off the bounce game as well:

Kira isn’t a Dame or Steph level shooter but he’s not the type of guy that you can go under the screen either. He can make defenses pay and that mixed with his speed gives him the potential to be a pretty good scorer in the NBA.

This guy is sure fire top pick right? Unfortunately with Kira, there are a couple things that hold him back on the offensive end and could be problematic in the NBA.

First, it’s his decision-making. Kira isn’t a bad passer. He’s actually shown a lot of flashes that makes you think he could potentially turn into a good one:

However, Kira’s vision isn’t great. He misses passes in P&R and other times just completely turns it over. Here, Kira has the roll man wide open on this P&R but fails to make the pass.

In these plays, Kira just makes the wrong passing decision in general:

You get the point. It reflects in the numbers as well. Kira averages 3.5 turnovers a game and has a TOV% of 17.6. Not great. There is some optimism for Kira as a passer though. Kira is a young guy. This was his sophomore season at Alabama but he was only 18 years old. He’ll be 19 when he starts his first NBA season. There’s a lot of time for him to grow improve. Additionally, those flashes show me that there is potential for him to be a good passer. I’m willing to bet on that.

Kira’s second problem is his finishing. Kira isn’t a great finisher in the half court despite his ability to get there with ease. A lot of this has to do with his strength. Kira’s only around 165 pounds. Because of his lack of strength, Kira has an aversion to contact. He stops just short a lot of time instead of going all the way into the defender:

This can really limit his upside. Again though, Kira is only 18 and can grow a lot especially with an NBA strength and conditioning program.

Kira has a lot to like as an on ball creator in the NBA. He has the speed and quickness. He has the shooting. He just needs to improve the decision-making. Because of his athletic tools, the threshold he has to meet isn’t as high as others who don’t have the same tools as him. Because of his speed and quickness, the windows for passing for him will be a lot wider and allow a higher margin for error. I really buy Kira as an offensive creator. He does come with his weaknesses but in my opinion, those are weaknesses that can legit be improved.

Defense

Kira doesn’t project as just some one-way player either. He has some translatable skills that can make him impactful as an on-ball defender in the NBA. He moves very well laterally and stays in front of guys:

His real talent is his defensive play-making though. On and off ball, Kira just makes shit happen:

Kira is really good at trailing opposing offensive players in P&R and deterring them from behind. He’s able to get blocks this way sometimes which leads to his terrific transition game.

Off-ball, Kira is able to do some similar stuff with his physical tools:

Kira uses his long arms and anticipation skills to get the steal in both clips. He is able to utilize this a lot too. He averages 1.8 steals per game and has a steal percentage of 2.5%.

The downfalls to Kira’s defensive game again relates to his strength. Some players are able to power through him because of his lack of strength and he won’t be able to switch onto bigger defenders. However, this is something that can be improved upon again with an NBA’s strength and conditioning program.

Kira Lewis Jr. has a lot of skills that I buy for a point guard in the NBA. He’s a good shooter. He can get to the paint at will. He moves well laterally and has defensive playmaking chops. With added strength, his weaknesses can be lessened and he can become a special scorer. I buy his upside because the things that hold him back are fixable. This isn’t some prospect that needs a miracle to happen to hit. Improved strength and decision-making is attainable especially for a player that is so young. If he can hit the necessary thresholds for that, he can be a special player.

Kira shouldn’t be one of the main targets for the Hornets as there will probably be better targets on the board when we pick but his fit with the hornets would be interesting. He’d give Charlotte the rim attacker that we don’t have right now and him and Miles Bridges would be really fun in transition. Additionally, he can add some defensive play-making that we really don’t have at the guard position right now. I doubt we will but if we ended up with him, I wouldn’t be upset.

Kira is one of the most fun players in the class. His shot-making and speed can make him a really good initiator in the league with improved playmaking. If his decision-making improves, he could be the steal of the draft.

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