Josh RiddellPerry Ellis
has been at the center of the Kansas offense for three seasons, and wrapped up a successful individual collegiate career with several accolades, including two Big 12 All-Conference 1st Team awards. We've tracked him since his time as a McDonald's All-American and he has made significant strides as a player since a somewhat disappointing freshman season. We can now begin to summarize him as a draft prospect as we head toward the NBA Draft.
Ellis took a major step forward offensively as a senior, developing into one of the most prolific and efficient scorers in college basketball, on an elite NCAA team. After averaging a strong 18.7 points per-40 as a junior, he upped that to an even better 22.8 per-40 as a senior, while increasing his efficiency notably, from 54 to 61% true shooting percentage.
He has become an improved shooter each year of his career which culminated in a 43.8% conversion rate on 2.3 three point attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted. He's especially good from the mid-range where he made 51.4% of his 37 two point jumpers from at least 17 feet according to Synergy Sports Technology. He's more confident in his shot and if he can begin to stretch it out to the NBA distance, his role will become clearer. He still has a ways to go to become a respected shooter as he doesn't have a big sample size of perimeter scoring yet (56/130 3P in 146 college games), but he is beginning to show he's more comfortable with his jumper.
Ellis showed teams at the NBA Draft Combine how much he's improved from NCAA distance, hitting an excellent 23/25 3-pointers in the college shooting drills. He wasn't quite as successful from NBA range, though, converting just 10/25 attempts. To find success at the NBA level, there's little doubt Ellis will have to become a reliable threat with his feet set from 3-point range, so teams will be tracking this part of his game closely.
Ellis didn't show too much else during his senior season to change what we already knew about his offensive profile. He still saw quite a bit of his offense with his back to the basket, with 22% of his possessions logged by Synergy Sports Technology as post-ups. While he is skilled on the block and has the confidence to take anyone one on one, it's hard to envision him getting a lot of similar possessions at the NBA level. He does have the footwork and touch around the rim to score there from time to time but will need to show NBA teams more offensively. The Jayhawks offense was built around him, with his post game, pick and roll finishing, and cutting, and while it is nice for him to have that in his back pocket, he'll have to find other ways to consistently score against NBA defenders.
At 6'7 barefoot, with a solid, but not spectacular 6'10 wingspan, a limited 218 pound frame, while being just an average at best athlete overall, Ellis will likely need to play a more perimeter oriented role as a combo forward. He doesn't have the foot speed to match up with quick players at the small forward position but does have a good deal of strength to play a more physical style against other stretch fours.
Ellis isn't a great offensive creator from the wing and is most comfortable as a straight line driver against slower footed big man. He gets tunnel vision toward the rim when he drives or when he is in the post, averaging only 1.7 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted. He is capable of putting the ball on the floor from the midrange, but looks less comfortable creating when catching behind the three point line. This limits his ability to play on the perimeter and is a key area of improvement for him as he starts his professional career. While being able to knock down the NBA three is the first point of improvement, being able to attack the closeout and take two or three dribbles into the paint to get to the rim or find his open teammates will also help round out his NBA skill set.
Defensively, Ellis contributes with his intelligence and feel for the game by rotating to the right spot and playing well within a team concept. His overall impact level may be mitigated by his average physical tools at the next level, though, and he'll need to demonstrate what type of player he will be able to consistently guard to be a useful defender. There are serious concerns about his 218 pound frame, which he's managed to add just 12 pounds of bulk to in the last seven years since our first measurements on him in 2009, which may prove to be a significant deterrent.
Ellis also doesn't have great foot speed and lacks the height or length to guard most big men down low. His best bet is to improve his footwork to become as adept at staying in front of penetration as possible to allow him to guard perimeter players. Even if he does that, what hurts his effectiveness is that he has to give himself a cushion by dropping back in isolation or off screens to not be beaten as easily off the dribble and he allows too many open jump shots as a result.
Ellis isn't a great defensive rebounder either at just 5.3 per 40 minutes pace adjusted
. He just doesn't have the athleticism or physical tools to beat guys to rebounds off the rim or chase down loose balls outside his area. He doesn't shy away from the glass though and can be a contributor to a good team rebounding effort by boxing his man out and letting his teammates fly in to secure the loose ball.
While Ellis is highly skilled around the basket, extremely competitive, and has an excellent basketball IQ, he will need to widen his skill set to fit into a NBA rotation. If he can show he is comfortable playing a more perimeter oriented role than he did during his tenure at Kansas, his potential NBA role will begin to take shape. Even if he doesn't get drafted, at the very least he will get his chance in summer league and training camps to play his way onto a roster, and will be a player NBA teams will continue to monitor regardless of where he ends up.