Credit: Washington Athletics

Jaylen Nowell Draft Profile

Breaking down the NBA potential of Jaylen Nowell

Sophomore 6’4″ 200 Shooting Guard Washington DOB: 7/9/1999
16.2 ppg 5.3 rpg 3.1 apg FG: 50.2% 3 PT: 44%

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Recruiting Profile

Wingspan: 6’7″ 

NBA Comparison: Kent Bazemore

Strengths: Shot Creation, Outside Shooting, Perimeter Defense

Weaknesses: Size, Explosiveness, Slow Release

Nowell came to Washington as a five star recruit, and has been a high level scorer since stepping onto campus. As a freshman he averaged 16 points per game, and then 16.2 as a sophomore. While there was not a huge jump in numbers from his freshman to sophomore seasons, he was more efficient in his second year needing less shots to be productive. His freshman year he shot three point attempts at 35.1% and then improved to 44% as a sophomore, leading teams to be more intrigued with his ability to knock down outside shots. While Nowell can come off of a screen and pull up, his best attribute is taking a defender off of the dribble either getting to the basket or pulling up for a jumper. He can finish around the basket with a variety of crafty moves, such as floaters, step backs, and pump fakes. As a defender he was a large factor on one of the top defensive teams in the country, averaging over a steal per game in both of his college years. Nowell has the potential to be a lock down defender on the perimeter, but there will be an adjustment after playing in a zone based defense at Washington. Rebounding the ball was a strength, averaging 5.3 per game as a sophomore, which is a solid number for a guard. He only scored over 30 points in a game once against Santa Clara, but he was very consistent, not having many down games.

His size at 6’4″ will be on the lower end of NBA shooting guards, and while there are not many stars that are in that height range playing at the position, there are plenty of impact players who are. Having a 6’7″ wingspan will help, but there is a concern that his lack of vertical explosiveness will give him trouble when dealing with bigger more athletic guards. As mentioned before, he was a very efficient shooter in college, however his slow release on his jump shot is a concern. He has been able to get his shot off in college without any issues, but as the talent level and athleticism is improved at the next level, Nowell could struggle to replicate his shot creating abilities. While he might not be the quickest player on the floor, his speed from end to end is impressive allowing him to be very effective in fast break situations. One intriguing aspect to his game is that he could be used as a primary ball handler sliding over to play point guard in spurts, which will give him more opportunity to earn playing time. 

This play shows his ability to handle the ball and finish around the basket:

Here he is setting up a teammate on the fast break:

Nowell is viewed as a potential late first round pick, although most of his projections are to go in the early part of the second round. He has stated he intends to stay in the draft so coming back to school will not be on the table, and it seems unlikely that he will go undrafted. His ceiling as a professional is a starter level guard, possibly coming off of the bench in a sixth man role, who is receiving significant minutes while being an above average scorer to go with solid perimeter defense. The worst case scenario is that he is unable to score or be efficient with the increased size and talent level in the NBA, leading him to a limited role as a back up.  

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