Kyshawn George: The Educated Guess
Kyshawn George has been a shining light for the Miami Hurricanes in limited minutes this season. Come see why Garbage Time Ghim thinks he's going to be an even better pro.
Scouting wing prospects for the NBA draft is ridiculously hard. Considering the fact that I’m Asian, I should have created some algorithm or formula to find the best wing prospects every year. But like most Asian-American children, I’ve found another way to disappoint my parents.
With us now creeping toward the tail end of this college basketball season, we’re starting to see some late-bloomers arrive at the party, and one of the hottest names in the scene is Miami’s Kyshawn George. George is being talked about all over the Draft Twitter space and is gaining a ton of steam. I’ve even seen some people compare him to guys at the top of most people’s draft boards, like Cody Williams of Colorado. I wanted to talk about Kyshawn now before talking about him becomes played out.
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We remember a couple of months ago when Nikola Topic was the hot topic (nice), and everyone had to drop a new piece or YouTube breakdown about him. Or recently, with everyone dropping content on Reed Sheppard. We must avoid hopping on the hype train too late, like the Panda Dunk in 2022/2023 or the Adidas Samba in 2023. Trends are cool and must be studied, but there’s something nice about not being the last guy to the party because once there are too many people, you just start wondering if you should be there at all.
Because most of us are going to be wrong most of the time, I like the idea of taking a bet on a guy like Kyshawn George. When it comes to wing prospects, I’m starting to understand that every person will have their own biases. I like guys that are 6’8” or taller; if you’re shorter than that, you lose one point. I also like guys who have pretty-looking jumpers. If your shot looks a little wonky, you’re losing a point. I like wings that can pass the ball. If you’ve got tunnel vision, you lose a point. If you look like you need a map to figure out where you belong on the floor, you’ll probably lose many points. If you run like Myles Turner did in college, you better believe you’re losing all the points.
What are these points that players are losing according to my arbitrary standards? No one knows or cares; I’m just trying to force my biases on you so you can become like me. As I’ve been trying to create my wing prospect manifesto to be sold on Wish and Teemu, these skill sets have become increasingly important to me.
Back in third grade, I had my favorite teacher ever, Mrs. Walther. She was one of the funniest teachers I ever had and had an effervescent energy that the class could feel every morning. We did a unit on building a hypothesis during the middle of the year. Throughout the unit, she kept nailing home that a hypothesis was an educated guess. We were reading a riveting “Encyclopedia Brown” novel, and Mrs. Walther wanted us to try forming hypotheses. To help us understand, she had us develop some hypotheses about the classroom and some of our classmates. Naturally, we said things like, “My hypothesis is I believe Ricky had ketchup for breakfast because he still has some on his face,” or something like, “I hypothesize that Tristan is sleepy today because he keeps yawning.”
In third grade, you start to develop a personality, and you start caring about having friends and fitting in. Things like being funny and being popular start to matter to you. When it came to sharing my hypothesis, I chose to take a shot at Mrs. Walther, and as you can expect, that did not end well for me.
“I hypothesize that Mrs. Walther smokes cigarettes because I smell them from her breath every morning.”
My dad smoked for most of my childhood, so I could smell the scent of cigarettes from any smoker’s breath, no matter how hard they tried to mask it with coffee. To be honest, the combination of cigarettes and coffee made her breath even more unbearable. But regardless of all that, I should have had more sense. Mrs. Walther called my mom and told her I embarrassed her in front of the whole class. Although I was punished dearly, this was the start of a very successful career of me taking shots in the dark, hoping to be right about teenage basketball players around the world.
My latest bet that I’m willing to make is Kyshawn George.
Although my story above may not have instilled a ton of confidence in me as a scout, I’m here to change your mind. I’m not in third grade anymore; I’m an adult. So, let’s get into why I think Kyshawn George is the gamble worth making in the 2024 NBA Draft. I promise it’s more than just an educated guess.
One of the most difficult things to quantify when breaking down a prospect is their feel for the game. I think for most, it’s probably an amalgamation of several things. The ability to feel and function in the flow of the game, making the right quick decisions, and advanced reads, some mix of all that. When it comes to Kyshawn George, you can feel it in your plums that the man has feel for the game.
As I did my deep dive into Kyshawn, it was interesting to see how his teammates and coaches described his game. If you watch some of the videos I shared below, you’ll see how almost anyone you ask about Kyshawn’s game will mention his IQ. They always talk about how smart he is and how mature his game is. When thinking about feel and what it means to me, I think it has a lot to do with basketball IQ, awareness of self and teammates, and the ability to read the floor and make advanced decisions to manipulate things you see to your advantage. Someone should quote that and have it lasered onto a wood slab to be hung in a living room somewhere.
Kyshawn George has feel for the game. When you pull up Kyshawn’s profile on Sports Reference College Basketball, you might not be amazed by the numbers. When it comes to Kyshawn and what he’s been able to show in his limited minutes for the Miami Hurricanes, it is somewhat down to his feel and what you’re seeing on the eye test, more than just the raw numbers. Kyshawn, to his credit, does have some pretty numbers to flaunt. If you look at his shooting splits of 44.0/42.4/83.3, what is there not to like? According to Synergy, he’s shooting 46.4% on catch-and-shoot jumpers, 57.7% on unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers, and 61.9% at the rim, all of which fall under very good or excellent, according to Synergy.
It’s also important to note that he shoots 39.5% on guarded catch-and-shoot jumpers. The shooting has been nice, but we have to make sure to include that all of this is on minimal volume. George only plays 21.7 minutes per night and takes under six shots per game. The limited playing time is not an indictment of his ability or what he’s shown so far this season; he’s just playing on a Miami team with some veterans and NBA-bound guys that consume a ton of time and opportunity. The beauty of Kyshawn’s game this season has been his ability to shine even with the limited opportunities and minutes.
For us to really show off his feel for the game, we have to dive deep into the offensive side of the game. We already went through the shooting splits, but even to the eye, he has a pretty-looking shot. Kyshawn, like many tall guys in the league, went through a sudden growth spurt. Coach Jim Larranaga talked about it when describing Kyshawn’s recruitment to Miami. When Kyshawn was originally recruited from France, he was a 6’5” point guard type; when he arrived at Miami, he was 6’7” and grew another inch to 6’8”.
Not only did Kyshawn grow taller, but according to Coach Larranaga, he’s added about 50 pounds as well in the last year or so. Adding three inches and 50 pounds is a big change in a year, and you can see some of that in Kyshawn’s movement on the court. I don’t think he’s clumsy by any means, but there is a bit of him testing things out and feeling out his new body at times. He can have some awkward moments when he’s guarding out on the perimeter or even trying to create off the dribble, but as I mentioned earlier, that sounds about right for someone whose body has changed that drastically within a year.
Even with the drastic change in body and frame, the thing that stands out the most with him is his influence on the game. Kyshawn is a big wing with a tight handle, excellent passing instincts, and a pretty-looking shot. When I watch him on the court, I’m sometimes reminded of Kevin Knox and how he looked during his freshman season at Kentucky in the 2017-2018 season. I would never compare their games because they're so different. I think Kyshawn is a much more cerebral player who can influence the game without having the ball in his hands. Knox was not a passer, maybe a slightly better athlete and so much of his game was theoretical.
Although their games were different, watching Kyshwan’s awkwardness sometimes reminds me of Knox. Knox was impossibly long; you could see how his long legs sometimes hampered his lateral movement. Knox also didn’t have feel, his shot selection was always weird, and it never felt like he was confident in his decision-making. Many draft prognosticators at the time thought it was something he could learn and develop. I think I’m getting to a point where I don’t know if feel can be taught past a certain age. Kevin Knox is probably a good example of why I feel that way. Knox never really developed that feel.
Where a player like Kevin Knox becomes dangerous in the scouting process is when we start assuming that the theoretical aspects of a prospect’s game will automatically get hashed out by being in the NBA. As always, growth is never linear, and one of the big mistakes you can make in scouting is assuming a player’s weaknesses will simply be solved with more reps and NBA coaching.
Kyshawn is such an intriguing prospect because his projection is the perfect balance of what it could be and what it already is.
Kyshawn may only see a little of the ball due to guys like Nijel Pack and Wooga Poplar, but when he does have the ball in his hands, Kyshawn has been able to flash his tight handle and playmaking. Due to him playing point guard for much of his life and his feel and vision, Kyshawn has shown some nifty creation flashes. Kyshawn can handle the ball in tight spaces, manipulate defenses with his eyes and hesitations, and does a good job of using his size to make reads above his defender. Some may have some concerns due to the limited volume of reps, but if you look back to his basketball journey and how he played even in France, you can be sure of his passing and play-making chops.
If you watch the video I posted below, you’ll see examples of him creating out of the pick and roll, making quick decisions after the ball has been reversed to the weak side, and pushing the ball in transition. Kyshawn’s real value on a veteran-laden team like Miami is his adaptability and desire to make the right plays and be in the right spots. Other than some deep threes early in the shot clock, Kyshawn is mostly looking to make the best play possible, whether that means he has the ball in his hands or not.
Although Kyshawn has shown some real impact on offense in his role, that doesn’t mean that he’s been perfect. When I mentioned some awkwardness in his game, I think you see most of it when he’s attacking the rim. Kyshawn is not an elite athlete, but he does have some craft and touch around the rim. He sometimes runs into trouble when he goes up against bigger, stronger defenders inside. There are moments when his ventures to the rim can look a little staticky and lacking polish. Also, as Kyshawn continues to adapt to his new frame, he must add more strength and girth to his frame to help compensate for the lack of elite burst and vertical pop. Kyshawn does a good job of manipulating speeds and taking good angles to put himself in good positions. Still, he must catch up physically against bigger and faster defenders on the next level to be more effective.
Another area where Kyshawn will have to continue to grow is in his ability to shoot off the dribble. Kyshawn has a very fluid and tight handle, but he does have more difficulty getting his shot off the dribble. This isn’t a major area of concern but rather an area of improvement. At this point in his development, it’s clear that Kyshawn is more effective and more comfortable shooting it off the catch. Although Kyshawn doesn’t have a great step, he can be tricky to stay in front of, and that has been beneficial for him in creating space. Like his finishing at the rim, added strength will also benefit him in this area.
His mid-range shooting is the last area of growth for him on offense. He does a good job of getting to his spots and has gotten off some clean looks from the mid-range, but he just hasn’t gotten them to fall. I highlighted a couple in my compilation video before, but it’s what’s keeping him from being a true three-level scorer. Adding the mid-range game, more floaters, and touch shots around the rim will benefit him a ton.
Defense is where we get a mixed bag. Kyshawn has all the ability to become a very good defender. He moves his feet well, much better than Kevin Knox did in college. Kyshawn also has great hands. His hands are so good that he sometimes relies on them too much. There are possessions where he becomes a little lazy with his feet because he has so much confidence and trust in his length and quick hands. This is something that he needs to improve upon. As much as his hands can be a weapon on defense, if he continues to rely on them more than actually moving himself and getting in good positions, it will harm him.
Considering the growth spurt, I was surprised to see how fluidly he moves on the defensive end of the ball. He doesn’t get very low in his stance, but he does a good job of sliding his feet, flipping his hips, and trying his best to stay in front of his man. I think he needs to work harder in pick-and-roll coverage to get over screens, as I thought he got blown up by them a little too often. Kyshawn does show a lot of promise as a team defender, but this is an area where I think he can get caught ball-watching at times. Overall, I’d say his focus is good, and he mostly locked in, but like all young players, the focus can come and go at times.
Kyshawn has great length and knows how to use it. Not only does he come up with a good amount of steals and pokes at the ball, but he can also be a threat to block some shots. On the season, he only has six blocks but you can see how his length can cause people some problems. As we mentioned on the offensive side of the ball, strength will be huge for Kyshawn. Adding more strength will help him stay in front of his man more, become more of a deterrent inside, and also help with rebounding. Kyshawn shows a good amount of interest in getting inside and fighting for boards, but the lack of strength and athleticism sometimes hurts him.
Kyshawn’s appeal as a pro will come down to his feel for the game, shooting stroke, play-making upside, and overall basketball IQ. Athleticism, size, and length are always intriguing attributes when looking for a future NBA wing. Kyshawn may not have highlight-worthy athleticism, but he does have great size, intellect, vision, and range on his shot. Honestly, I’m not too worried about the lack of athleticism or strength. Kyshawn has a frame that looks like he’ll easily add strength, and he has so much to his game that can compensate for the lack of athletic pop.
If you’re a team looking to take a shot in this draft, Kyshawn is the type of shot you should take. In my opinion, taking Kyshawn George in the first round is not like taking a shot in the dark. With his strong set of skills and budding game on both ends of the floor, I hypothesize that Kyshawn George has a good chance of becoming a really good NBA wing. I hope I provided enough evidence for this to be an educated guess, and as always, thanks for reading my words.
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