One of the most exciting prospects in this year’s draft is James Bouknight. He has a rare mix of both serious raw potential, but some well-refined skills as well. Bouknight is best known as a big-time scoring threat, and he should be taken as such even with some inconsistencies. In 15 games last season, Bouknight had seven in which he scored more than 20 points. He also posted a 40 point performance against Creighton back in December. He’s currently projected as a lottery pick in the upcoming draft and does have the talent for a legitimate successful NBA career.
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Name: James Bouknight
Position: Combo Guard
Weight: 190 lbs
Prototype: Offensive Threat
Bouknight is at his best finishing at the rim. He’s constantly making big-time dunks and easily gets to the rack. He accelerates easily off his back foot and shows his incredible athleticism through the air. He can finish through contact really nicely and we’ve seen some really nice cuts from his end. Overall, this is a fantastic area for Bouknight and a great start.
Perimeter Shooting (10/20)
This is where Bouknight struggles. He’s shown a nice ability at times to make the outside shot but for the most part, he is not good here. Bouknight only made 29.3 percent of his threes last season and was wildly inefficient from downtown. He’ll have to work really hard on this aspect of his game if he really wants to be a legit scorer at every level.
An inconsistent defender in college, Bouknight still has all the makings to be a much better one in the league. The athleticism alone is a brilliant start, and for a guy who you wouldn’t think works too hard on the defensive end, Bouknight does. He needs to be better at simply containing his man, fighting through screens, and working off-ball. He does compete a lot on the defensive end, but his help defense IQ is lacking, and coaches will touch upon it immediately once drafted. Ultimately, this is certainly not a weakness of Bouknight’s game, but one he can for sure improve.
Ball Handling (9.25/10)
As good as Bouknight’s finishing is, his handle is right up there for the best aspect of his game. It’s not necessarily the quickest, or flashiest, but he’s super silky in his movements and it’s allowed him to drive to the rack very easily. While he didn’t hit a ton of shots off the dribble, his ball-handling will allow him to possibly develop this area of his game in the future. All in all, this is a very strong skill for Bouknight and will be an excellent positive to start off his career.
Bouknight is a super athlete, there’s no real way around it. The highlight plays were on full display at UConn last season, and he was constantly seen on social media for some sort of electric dunk. Besides his unique leaping ability, Bouknight is super quick down the floor and runs in transition excellently.
Averaging only 1.8 assists in 2020, Bouknight is not a great passer, and he really needs to improve here. NBA coaches cannot play a rookie with raw talent who won’t share the ball with his teammates. We have seen some very nice flashes in this area, but Bouknight still really needs to improve as a playmaker overall.
Being a 6’5″ guard, Bouknight has exceptional size and he utilizes it very well. He hauled in 5.7 rebounds in his campaign last year, which is a very promising mark. He’s not going to be a Russell Westbrook type rebounder, as so few are, but he’ll make a nice impression early with his rebounding and willingness to hit the boards.
Injury History (4/5)
Bouknight had a bit of an elbow injury last year, which required surgery, but other than that he has been very clean and has recovered well from the surgery.
The ceiling seems like the limit for Bouknight’s game. He’s raw right now but can develop into an elite scorer in this league. The measurables, athleticism, and hustle show us how he can play at the next level, and the elite NBA player he can be.
At the end of the day, Bouknight is a clear-cut top 10 pick in this draft. He should probably end up on a team that has more depth at his position, allowing him to develop behind the scenes a little longer, but there’s no harm in him play early. As we’ve mentioned time and time again, a massive part of his career rests on how well he can develop that perimeter shot. If he can do so, the rest of the league will be welcoming in the next great three-way scorer.
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