Mykal Riley did what he does best last week at the Portsmouth Invitational: shoot from the perimeter. The Alabama sharpshooter attempted 18 of his 29 shots from beyond the arc, approximately the same ratio of three-pointers to two-pointers that he took during the regular season. While his shooting percentage from beyond the arc was somewhat lower last week than during the season, we were still able to see why Riley was such a successful perimeter scorer. Seeing Riley up close though did confirm some of the suspicions we had about him being a somewhat one-dimensional player offensively.
Physically, Riley has an average profile for the off guard spot. He has a thin frame that could stand to add some muscle, but stands 65 and possesses very good length. Athletically Riley is solid for a shooting guard, although he cant seem to do much with his athleticism considering his skill-level. He has solid end to end speed and can get off the floor fairly well despite his lack of strength, but youd rarely get to know that considering his limitations offensively, as his ball-handling skills are as poor as they come.
From what weve seen of Riley both during the season as well as at Portsmouth, he is almost exclusively a perimeter shooter. The majority of his touches come in spot up situations and according to Synergy Sports Technology, when Riley spots up on the perimeter he will catch and shoot without putting the ball on the floor on 80% of his possessions. He also gets over 20% of his shots from being run off screens. While it isnt common to see a player getting so many shot attempts up without dribbling, Riley has the proven shooting ability to back up his style of play. Of the 101 players who attempted at least 200 three-pointers this season, only 10 had better shooting percentages than Riley did. The senior connected on 43.3% of his 238 shot attempts from beyond the arc.
Riley has very good shooting form and a quick release, which makes him tough to defend if you lose sight of him for even a second. By far his most impressive offensive trait is his ability to catch and shoot while coming off of screens. He does an excellent job of squaring himself up quickly before firing, often seeming to do it all simultaneously. Riley also knows how to use screens to his advantage, showing good understanding of when to curl, cut, or fade off his teammate.
While we stated that Riley typically doesnt drive to the basket, he will put the ball on the floor and shoot off the dribble. He generally doesnt get too fancy, often using a quick head fake to throw off defenders trying to close out on his shot, and then simply taking a step in for a closer look. When he is forced into being more creative to shake defenders though, he will often force up tougher shots than he needs to, simply because his ball-handling skills are too poor to allow him to do much of anything off more than a single dribble or two. He is still very effective from the mid-range as a catch and shoot player, but he becomes somewhat inconsistent in his release point when he pulls up to shoot.
Defensively, Riley has plenty of room to improve. His lateral quickness isnt very good, to the point where even his length doesnt provide him much help against faster perimeter players. His wingspan does help though when he is closing out on shooters. Though at times he can be a little slow to recover and contest shots, when he does, Riley is a difficult target to shoot over and will block a shot from time to time. Mainly his length helps him intercept passes, as he averaged 1.6 steals per game during the regular season, and over 2 per game at Portsmouth, as well as haul in rebounds. Riley isnt very strong, but he was able to pull down over 5 rebounds per game for the Crimson Tide thanks to his hustle on the glass. These numbers did drop considerable last week, due mainly to the amount of time he spent away from the basket on both ends of the floor. His lack of strength is likely going to hinder him from being considered anything more than an average defender at best in the NBA, and even that might be a stretch.
Riley didnt show us any flashes of ability that indicate to us the possibility of him being drafted, but he did however show that he is a solid player who teams might want to keep tabs on for the future. Despite the fact that teams know he is going to primarily shoot from the outside, he is still able to get himself good looks and be a very effective scorer. Certainly, improving his ball handling skills and adding the threat of driving to the rim would only help his stock, especially in the eyes of NBA scouts. Ultimately though, Riley will almost assuredly receive more interest from teams overseas than he will from NBA teams, unless he has a fantastic showing in Orlando.