Raptors’ No. 13 pick: Keyonte George is a bucket-getter & tough shot maker
Shotmaking at all levels of the floor was a problem for the Raptors this season and Tyler Rucker explains how Keyonte George could bolster Toronto’s backcourt scoring. Listen to the full episode on players the Raptors will consider with their first-round lottery pick on the ‘Raptors Over Everything’ podcast feed.
TYLER RUCKER: --not even mentioned Keyonte George of Baylor. I think that's a really--
AMIT MANN: Let's talk about him.
TYLER RUCKER: I like Keyonte a lot. Got to see him in person this year. There's a lot to his game. And I think this is going to be one of those guys that I wouldn't be shocked if heats up throughout the pre-draft process. Because he was a little banged up to end the season. The efficiency kind of started to struggle. I think he had a lower body injury.
But when he's cooking, and if you're measuring the highs of all the prospects, I think Keyonte when-- he's got takeover ability. Going up against Kansas, he showed that where he can just absolutely take over a game. And that's a multi-level scorer. He's a lot bigger frame than people might think. I mean, he's going to be dishing out punishment when it comes to having to guard him every night. And it's weird when I saw Keyonte in person.
I think Baylor's site, which we always joke about team sites always round up. But they had him listed around 190 at the time. And I was like, he doesn't-- he looks over 200 easily. He's just, he's kind of bulky. And--
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
TYLER RUCKER: I think playing in-- at Baylor, sometimes when you're evaluating or scouting, you always have to take in the system, or the situation that the player is in. And they had a really talented backcourt with some upperclassmen. And I think it was kind of a lot of, OK, now it's your turn. Here, you take the ball. You try to create. And I think with the additional spacing and talent around, I think Keyonte could be kind of a diamond in the rough.
AMIT MANN: Yeah, and the Raptors have a history with Baylor. They like those players. They like what they offer, the athleticism, the tenacity, they like that system. So that's something to keep our eyes on. Screen navigation in today's NBA, and when I mentioned a case in Wallace, and players that can get through screens that can navigate those and just be a step ahead in terms of reading where screens are coming from, the best angles, that might be one of the more low-key valuable skills for a person to come in, just having a next step with that, especially in today's NBA, where there's so much switching, pick-and-roll coverages.
They have to be spot on. And look no further than today's playoffs right now. We're seeing players that are valuable in one series, and all of a sudden, they're not anymore. Because now, you're facing a different match-up. And all of a sudden now, you just can't be used in this situation because you don't have the screen navigation skills. We're talking about D'Angelo Russell now as a topic. Is he going to be able to play in this series, even though he was so valuable in the previous one? That's the kind of stuff that comes up.
And a person like Keyonte and Cason, you could see that they're going to battle through that kind of thing. And also, you match up with some of their on-ball skills.
TYLER RUCKER: It's one of the things that personally, when I'm evaluating, I always will-- a lot of people get too excited about potential, or the athleticism. And I'm always like, give me the guys with high feel and basketball IQ. I'll always lean on those because those are the guys that are playing in the playoffs. Those are the guys that are getting extended minutes and trust from head coaches when the playoff series-- when you're advancing on. Because exactly what you said, the playoffs are always about tinkering, and adjusting on a gamely basis when you're going up.
And then as the rounds go on, it gets tougher because the competition is getting tougher. So you've got to be able to understand angles, and almost lean on fundamentals when it comes to that type of stuff because the smallest window gets smaller as the games get tougher. And you've got to be able to adjust.
So I think that's why guys like Cason Wallace, even Keyonte offensively, and Kobe Bufkin especially. But those are guys that I just think check a lot of boxes. And obviously, none of these prospects are finished products. And they still got stuff to worry about. And but I think a developmental staff's going to iron that out. And I like the potential of all of them.
AMIT MANN: On Keyonte, how do you feel about his off-ball motion shooting? So coming off a pin down and turning into a mid-range jumper, and being able to come off a curl screen and get in the lane, make the right pass, things of that nature? How do you feel about that?
TYLER RUCKER: I think it's strong. If anything, I almost at times watching Baylor this year, I wish they'd kind of leaned on it a little more. Because you will see him run baseline to baseline, all of a sudden, catch and shoot corner 3. And he's also got that swagger where he'll hit a couple and then they run that play again, and all of a sudden, that defender is flying by, and he just hits him with an up fake, and sonic dribble. And it's-- he's got a gorgeous shot from outside. So I think with Keyonte, if Raptors fans are passionately watching his film, don't get too caught up in the percentages.
I think going back to his high school tape, his FIBA tape, he can shoot the crap out of the ball. He's a very talented scorer. And when he is heating up, it's-- the hoop gets bigger, and his range gets deeper. And it's-- he's a smart player. And I think the biggest-- I know you asked me about the movement shooting specifically. But one of the cherry on tops this year with Keyonte was his playmaking took off to a level that no one was ready for.
AMIT MANN: No, man. That's big.
TYLER RUCKER: [INAUDIBLE] playmaker. Yeah, so that's where I think some people could get caught up with the percentages. But you got to look at the bigger picture here. And I think that's one of my favorite fits for the Raptors. If they're trying to get that offensive burst going along Scottie Barnes, that could make some sense. But yeah, the movement shooting's special. I mean, he-- he'll run off of everything. And he can get a shot off at the snap of a finger.