Maurice Ager NBA Draft Scouting Report

Maurice Ager NBA Draft Scouting Report
Apr 17, 2006, 12:06 am
When talking about all-around offensive threats at the wing position, Maurice Ager’s name has to come up near the top of the 2006 list. Ager is blessed with standout athleticism, an NBA-ready body, and explosive scoring ability. He has all the tools to succeed at the next level in a fast paced system.

Ager is at his best in the open court. Blessed with fantastic end to end speed, Ager is very difficult to contain on the break. He runs the floor relentlessly, and fills the lane for slashing, above the rim finishes. Ager is a downright spectacular athlete, and will regularly throw down highlight reel dunks.

As Ager’s game has progressed, he has become much more than just a leaper. After playing second fiddle to several upperclassmen and being slowed down by several nagging injuries early in his time at Michigan State, Ager really improved his overall skill level over his final two seasons.

Ager has a beautiful 3-point shot, with a quick release, nice elevation, and range well beyond the NBA arc. He has no trouble connecting with a hand in his face. Ager is a volume scorer, capable of getting hot and burying opponents with a barrage of long-distance bombs.

When he actually looks to attack the basket, Ager is dangerous in a number of ways. When going to his right, he can take defenders off the dribble. His explosiveness and wingspan allow him to get into the lane very quickly, and he is capable of slashing to the basket with ease once defenders start overplaying his shot. Ager has also shown a serviceable midrange game at times, capable of hitting turnaround fadeaways and midrange floaters.

Ager is blessed with all natural attributes to be a good defender at the NBA level. He is long, athletic, and is strong enough to compete physically with most professional wings.

While Ager has the raw tools of a dominant all around scorer, there are plenty of times when you wouldn’t realize it. Ager is overly dependent on his 3-point shot, and really struggles in the half court setting. He simply doesn’t look to attack the basket or utilize his midrange game enough, particularly in terms of pulling up off the dribble.

While Ager is a solid ballhandler in the open court, he struggles going to his left. Slow the game down and take away his right hand, and Ager isn’t nearly as effective. He just isn’t as comfortable creating his own shot going to the basket as a player of his experience and athletic talent probably should be.

If he does miss his first few attempts from outside the arc, he can get very passive, floating around the outside and not really impacting the game at all beyond rushing another outside jumper every so often. In several of Michigan State’s midseason losses, Ager was completely nonexistent. His toughness, both physically and mentally, has been lacking at times.

When Ager isn’t scoring, there isn’t much else to his game. He doesn’t rebound particularly well, and is a mediocre passer at best. He doesn’t create well for others, and often dribbles with his head down to keep from turning it over. Overall consistency is an issue.

It would be nice to see Ager show a bit more effort and physicality on the defensive end. He should have provided Tom Izzo with a lock down defensive presence on the wing this season, but was clearly more focused on his offensive exploits. He just isn’t very aggressive on that end of the floor.

Size is also a minor concern. While he was listed at 6’5 at Michigan State, many seem to think he could be shorter that. However, even if he is 6’4, Ager has athleticism to make up for it.

Ager impressed many with a solid showing in the NCAA Tournament his freshman year. He scored 16 points on 6-9 shooting in the first round against Florida, and followed that up with double digit efforts in the next two rounds. Averaged 6.7 pts in 17.1 minutes on the season.

Slowed by nagging injuries his sophomore year, Ager averaged just 8.5 pts in 22.5 mpg, shooting just 38.7% from the floor.

Began to break out near the end of his junior season, averaging 18.2 ppg during Michigan State's NCAA Tournament run. The presence of three senior guards still forced him to share the spotlight a bit. Finished the season averaging 14.1 pts and 3.9 reb in 26.3 mpg, while shooting 47.6% from the field, 82.2% from the line, and 40.2% from beyond the arc.

Began his up and down senior season on fire, putting up 36 heroic points in a 3-OT loss to Gonzaga at the Maui Classic. Struggled over the first half of Big Ten play, before picking it up down the stretch. Finished the season averaging 19.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 2.5 apg in 34.4 mpg. Shot 45.7% from the floor, 76.1% from the line, and 37.6% from beyond the arc.

At this time Maurice Ager looks like a solid mid-late first round draft pick. His athletic ability is off the charts, but his all-around offensive game just isn't as advanced as you would like to see from a "first option" wing prospect. Ager will thrive in an up-tempo system in which he can get up and down the floor and spot up beyond the arc, but probably isn't going to do as well in a halfcourt-oriented style. Ager is far from a finished product, but should be able to develop into a very nice instant offense bench option at the very least.

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