Cason Wallace: A Great Pair of Scissors
The Kentucky Wildcats have a dynamic new guard in town and he's going to be a key cog of their success this season with his versatility on both ends of the floor.
Every household needs a good pair of scissors. About a year ago, I was kicking it at my friend’s house, and we were trying to cut something up. As I searched all over their kitchen to find a good pair, I couldn’t find anything and realized these guys didn’t own a good pair of kitchen shears. I felt deep shame and anguish when I realized my Korean friends were living in an incomplete home. Koreans are notorious for using scissors for everything. We cut open boxes with them; we cut up our meat, noodles, and letters from the IRS—we use them for everything.
A great example of this can be found in almost any Korean BBQ restaurant. In most places, they’ll use a high-quality pair of scissors to expertly cut your meat into perfect bite-sized pieces. This may be foreign to many of you, maybe even offensive, but you must understand that these restaurants are not using crappy pairs of scissors to cut up their meat. Usually, these restaurants use high-grade scissors that are incredibly sharp and effective.
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Watch the video below and see how the server expertly dices up that beautiful piece of meat into bite-size pieces to be cooked to perfection.
Most of you couldn’t give a rat’s ass about scissors, but there’s a reason for all of this. Cason Wallace is a highly useful, versatile, and effective pair of scissors—the kind that I believe every NBA team should be looking to add to their rosters.
Wallace is a 6’4” guard from Dallas, Texas, spearheading what should be a pretty good Kentucky team this season. Wallace will not be the flashiest name, nor will he have the flashiest game. But when you look closely and pay attention to what he does, you’ll understand how important a player he is. Wallace offers incredible versatility and value, like a good pair of scissors in a Korean home.
The best place to start when breaking down Wallace’s game is by stating that Wallace does many things well. Wallace was the #7 overall ranked player by Rivals and #20 by ESPN. As a senior, he averaged a robust 19.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. Those numbers are very good. The number that stuck out to me the most and showed on his tape was the rebounding. Because Wallace stands at a modest 6’4” tall, seven rebounds per game is an incredible number and speaks to one of Wallace’s greatest strengths: his effort. Whether it’s picking up an opposing guard full court, boxing out a big that has six to eight inches on him, or diving for loose balls, Cason Wallace’s greatest strength is his desire to do whatever it takes to win.
Without question, defending is the best thing Cason Wallace does on a basketball court. The man has lightning-quick hands and incredible anticipation, and he can seamlessly read and react to whatever the opposing offense throws at him. He moves incredibly well laterally and does a great job of getting his chest into guys while also being disciplined and playing guys straight up. He can also block a good number of shots and loves fighting for boards with bigs.
The clip above is maybe the best thing I’ve seen Wallace do on a basketball court. First, he comes from the weak side to protect the rim on the lob. This is incredible when you consider this as your point guard. Off the corresponding shot, he’s boxing out the big and ends up with the rebound. If you put it in a vacuum, it may not be that impressive, but if you consider that your point guard is doing this, that’s impressive. This clip is a beautiful encapsulation of the type of player that Wallace is. He doesn’t live within the conventional boundaries of what you’d expect a smaller to medium-sized guard to do.
Watch the clips above and tell me these plays don’t impact winning. I dare you. Wallace is a guy that cares deeply about the outcome, and sometimes he cares too much that he can overthink things. But when it comes to intensity and effort, he’s never lacking. The first clip above looks like a run-of-the-mill contest, but it stuck out to me because I enjoyed the pursuit. Look at where he starts on the right elbow area; you can see his eyes and mind processing at a million miles per second. He follows his man through an awkward screen, closes the gap, and gets a clean block on the shot. My praise for him on the play isn’t even for the block; it’s the engagement and processing from him that I enjoyed so much. You can see his head on a swivel at the start of the play, and then he closes the possession with a good block.
The second clip is fun to watch because it’s a two-for-one. We get to see one of his strengths and weaknesses in one clip. In this one, Duquesne decides to blitz the screen, and the big does a good job of poking the ball away from Wallace. One of the critiques I have for Wallace is that he doesn’t have the tightest handle and, at times, can get sloppy in traffic, as he does in this clip. Many guards in that spot could easily give up with the two opposing players having a free runway to the rim. Wallace is not that guy. He pursues his man and goes up with two hands to gently swat the ball out of bounds. This is what effort looks like; this is what NBA teams will love to see on tape. I like Wallace because he does things other players may be too lazy even to attempt. He doesn’t quit, and he doesn’t like giving away free points.
The next three clips above are from Wallace’s matchup against fellow highly touted freshman Nick Smith Jr., from Arkansas, when they played in high school. I won’t break down every play but look at this defense from Wallace. All of it is so measured and poised; he does a great job of contesting all of these shots without fouling. Nick Smith Jr. is an extremely gifted offensive player, and Wallace knew that coming into the game. Smith still got his points and had a really good game, but I love that Wallace had these moments and didn’t back down from a fellow highly-ranked player. You want to see your best players step up in matchups like this.
This last clip is the cherry on top. Look at the dive, the pass, and the effort. That’s a winning play if I’ve ever seen one.
This is the side of the ball where Wallace needs more work, but I want to preface all this by saying Wallace is also a good offensive player. He has more room to grow on this side. After watching Kentucky play against Michigan State Tuesday night, it’s clear that Wallace is nowhere near a finished product on the offensive side of the ball. Wallace was too deferential; he passed up way too many good looks and missed some big-time free throws that could have changed the game’s outcome. With that in mind, I’m not going to let that performance influence how I feel about him too much. With the low moments, he also had some high moments. He won a great jump ball in crunch time against an MSU big, hit a big three in overtime, and had eight steals, which is an incredible number.
I don’t want to argue with the claim that Wallace should be more aggressive. I agree with that. I only want to say that we just watched him play his first big game for Kentucky against a good college team, and he may still be feeling out his role and influence on the team early on in the season. In time, I believe Wallace will take on a larger role and be depended on to create more for himself and his teammates.
With all that said, I want to highlight some of his offensive game and things that have encouraged me about his outlook on that side of the ball.
Wallace may have the best or one of the best floaters in college basketball. The guy has great touch around the rim, and in the two clips above, he showcases some right-foot, right-hand floaters that are just so beautiful. I know these are in vogue, and many people are going for them; hitting them is different. Wallace can hit these regularly. Now one thing I want to point out here is that although Wallace could get downhill on these plays, turning the corner and getting by his man is sometimes difficult. He doesn’t have the greatest handle or first step, so turning the corner and getting downhill is something he will have to continue to work on. If he continues to leverage his strength and learns to change speeds a little bit more, that could help. The final and possibly the most important piece would be the development of his mid-range jump shot. Most, if not all, elite scorers have the mid-range in their bag, which I think could help Wallace compensate for his lack of burst.
Do I think he’s an elite shooter from the outside? Probably not. I think he’ll be good enough that defenses will think about him whenever he shoots it from outside. I think the form looks good, he looks balanced in his attempts, and all he needs is more volume.
If all goes well, I think he could be some mix of Jrue Holiday, Larry Hughes, and Malcolm Brogdon. Jrue Holiday was the lead guard for the title-winning Milwaukee Bucks in 2021. That’s a really valuable player. Larry Hughes was a great complimentary piece next to guys like Allen Iverson, Gilbert Arenas, and Lebron James. Malcolm Brogdon is a steady yet unspectacular piece to the current Boston Celtics, who look to be title contenders again. I chose these guys obviously because of their defensive capabilities but also because of their offensive games as well. Wallace, like the others, is a good passer who can make solid reads out of the pick-and-roll. He hasn’t shown elite playmaking ability, but it’s more than good enough. He could be a guy who can run your offense and a good running mate next to another primary creator.
With a solid mix of shooting upside, great touch at and around the rim, and plus passing ability, Wallace has more than enough in his arsenal to eventually become a very good and balanced offensive player.
A Korean household is only complete with a good, reliable pair of scissors. Scissors are less cool and flashy than a big 8K tv or the Cloud couch from Restoration Hardware. They are, however, very important and make your house that much better. For those interested in a good pair of scissors, I’ve linked an article with some great recommendations below. I promise I’m not trying to sell some Cutco Knives or anything like that. I just want to improve your lives and homes.
I recently moved Cason Wallace into the Top 10 of my Big Board. Even if his performance dips a little throughout the season, I believe he will be in the lottery conversation when the draft comes around.
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