California shooting guard Patrick Christopher
is having what can only be described as a breakout sophomore season, averaging over 17 points per game on 48% shooting, up from just five points per game last season. Christopher stands 65 with a decent frame and decent length, and is having little trouble adjusting to his larger role with the team.
Christopher is not quite a finished product, but he has a nice assortment of skills, which have to begin with his scoring. He has very good timing on his first step and good ball-handling ability with his right hand, which allows him to get to the rim frequently in the half-court. He reads the defense here extremely intelligently, and does a great job picking his spots. He usually has no problems taking his man off the dribble from isolation situations, and also does a good job catching-and-driving off cuts. Once in the lane, Christopher keeps the ball low to the ground and does a good job changing directions, using spin moves and crossovers on occasion, but usually just relying on subtle adjustments to get to the rim. Once at the rim, Christopher shows good creativity and touch, liking the use of reverses, fakes, and banking the ball off the glass on his shots. Christopher also makes us of a decent right-handed floater when he cant get all the way to the rim.
Christopher does have some issues with his dribble-drive game, though, most notably that his left hand is very weak relative to his right. He can use it on occasion, but clearly prefers going right, looking uncomfortable when forced left. He also doesnt show much finishing ability with his left, almost always going to his right, even if it means a tougher shot. At the rim, Christopher doesnt often show the explosiveness to finish over defenders, usually opting to go around defenders, even if it makes for a tougher shot attempt.
Christopher also has a developing outside shot in his arsenal, as he takes around one third of his field goal attempts from behind the three-point arc. Hes hitting just 33% of those shots, though, which is the same percentage he shot from deep last season. His jumper doesnt have terrible form, though it does has some issues, including a noticeable forward-push motion on his release. His release point is also inconsistent, with his arm occasionally flailing to the left or right, usually when rushed by a contesting defender. He isnt always consistent holding his follow through either, and his form can get sloppy when hes pulling up off the dribble. Christopher is clearly at his best from deep when he has time to spot up, and most importantly, get his feet underneath him.
Without the ball, Christopher shows good court awareness, having a solid understanding of spacing, and often getting open around the basket by recognizing seams in the defense. He isnt always consistent with his off-ball movement, though, sometimes standing around and waiting. This, along with his inconsistent outside shot, result in some inconsistent scoring games, including a three point game against North Dakota State and an eight point game against Kansas State, both of which he played over 33 minutes in. Christopher also is a solid passer, as he doesnt usually force the issue with his drives, and shows good recognition when the defense is collapsing and he has an open man.
On the defensive end, Christopher has room for improvement, showing an inconsistent defensive stance, not always pressuring his man in man-to-man situations. He also isnt consistent with his effort moving laterally, though he shows decent ability there at times. He struggles getting through screens as well, though generally does a solid job staying with his man off the ball otherwise. He hasnt shown much ability in the passing lanes either.
All in all, Christopher should have a chance at a career in the NBA down the road, but hed definitely be best served spending at least another year in college. Hes slightly undersized for a shooting guard, and is just an average athlete by NBA standards to compensate for that. Hes going to need to continue to round out his offensive game to have a chance to make much of an impact in the pros, although he seems to be off to a nice start. Continuing to develop his left hand and improving his outside shot should be among his priorities, while adding more consistent effort on the defensive end could help as well.