|Senior||6’7″ 190||Shooting Guard||Wyoming||DOB: 1/24/97|
|22.1 ppg||8.5 rpg||4.4 apg||FG: 40.9%||3 PT: 29.6%|
NBA Comparison: Gerald Green
Strengths: Athleticism, Shot Creation, Size, Rebounding
Weaknesses: Outside Shooting, Strength, Lack of Competition
James was not very productive as a freshman averaging 5.4 points per game, but over the next three seasons he became a top scorer in college basketball. He averaged 16 as a sophomore, 18.9 as a junior, and 22.1 then as a senior. His offensive improvement was impressive, showing off a variety of ways to score the ball. He can take a defender off of the dribble both to drive to the basket, and to pull up for a jump shot. His ball handling skills are solid, he is quick enough to create separation. Once he gets to the basket, he can use his athleticism to finish at the rim, being a threat to put someone on a poster as he did on multiple occasions. In fast break situations he can step in and compete as a professional, being able to get open for shot or lead the break getting to the basket. As a jumper James is one of the top athletes in the draft class, being underrated in that regard due to playing at Wyoming. He will have no trouble fitting in athletically at whatever level of professional basketball he begins, having the size and athleticism teams are looking for in a wing. James improved as a rebounder every season in college, culminating with 8.5 as a senior, which is an area that can help him earn time on the floor going forward. One aspect of his game that is intriguing is the ability to set up teammates with open looks, averaging 4.4 as a senior taking on more of the lead ball handling duties. The fact that he can play multiple positions and give a team different looks is an attribute that can help him impress teams before the draft and into the summer league.
As a shooter he has been consistent at times, and then had some regression in that area as his career continued. James shot three pointers at 41.9% as a sophomore, but then as his usage went up he dipped to 30.8% as a junior, and 29.6 % as a senior. His outside shooting ability is definitely a question mark, but he has a fluid motion with good mechanics that should allow him to improve his shooting efficiency. He will need to add some strength to his frame, but considering he will be playing on the wing as a professional, that will not be a major concern for teams. Playing at Wyoming will cause some teams to doubt your ability to compete against top level talent, although the Mountain West Conference does have some tough teams which James played well against. Outside of the conference he put up 27 points and 19 rebounds against Boston College, 18 points and 10 rebounds against Oregon State, then 20 points and 12 rebounds against South Carolina. When you take into account his performances against bigger schools, and the fact that he did face some solid conference opponents like Nevada and Utah State, it should help his case for being able to play against major competition. His age will be an issue to teams that value molding younger draft picks into their 20’s, however you know that you are getting a solid player that can score the basketball at a high level with James. On defense he has the tools to become a productive defender showing in college he has those skills, although there will definitely be an adjustment to guarding shooting guards or small forwards at either the G League, overseas, or in the NBA.
This clip shows how he is capable of creating and knocking down an open look:
Here is an example of his athleticism:
#3. Justin James (Wyoming): pic.twitter.com/0M1PYx920M— Bryan García (@esperandomarzo) July 9, 2017
James is projected to go undrafted with a few projections to go late in the second, however after the pre-draft process he could cement himself as a second round pick if he impresses. He has shown that there is potential in his game to compete at the professional level which at the very least should get him a roster spot on a summer league team. His ceiling as a professional is in a solid back up role, possibly in a sixth or seventh man role, being able to score well and play perimeter defense. The worst case scenario for James is that he is unable to impress teams in the summer league or G League, not finding a role that allows him to stick in the league.