Rasheed Sulaimon Updated NBA Draft Scouting Report
May 9, 2016
A top-20 recruit in the class of 2012, Rasheed Sulaimon was the prized gem in an otherwise down recruiting year for Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. Sulaimon made good on his recruiting hype early and emerged as a star for the Blue Devils as a freshman, appearing destined for a future in the NBA.
Nearly four years, after an alleged sexual assault (the details remain cloudy), and a transfer to Maryland, Sulaimon's NBA chances are riddled with question marks.
At 6'4 and nearly 200 pounds, Sulaimon is undersized for his natural off-guard position at the next level and lacks the ball-handling skills, court vision, and overall offensive feel to slide comfortably into a point guard role in the NBA. His length with a 6'7 wingspan is solid, and he's an aggressive defender who likes to challenge opposing teams' best players with intense ball pressure. He emerged as Duke's lockdown perimeter defender before his eventual dismissal as a junior and carried that reputation over to Maryland, where he consistently drew the Big 10's toughest assignments game-to-game.
Sulaimon's reemergence at Maryland helped display his adaptability to a new role. While he scored a career-low 13.9 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted as a senior, he also dished out a career-best 4.4 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Sulaimon moved from a ball-dominant role with Duke as the leader of the second unit to an off-ball role with Maryland in the starting lineup, a switch that did wonders for his efficiency. As his usage dropped from 22.6% as a junior to 17.9% as a senior, Sulaimon's shooting improved to a career-high 42.9% from deep and a career-high 59% TS%.
Perhaps the fairest criticism of Sulaimon's game is that it's hard to measure how much he's truly developed from his freshman year to his senior year. Though he's had four years to grow, his frame has generally stayed the same, and his overall productivity hasn't changed much, as his 16.4 PER was exactly his career average and even a hair lower than it was as a freshman.
Sulaimon's NBA chances hinge on his potential as a 3-and-D combo guard. As a senior, he hit on 33-of-72 (45.8%) catch-and-shoot opportunities which is an elite rate. Moreover, he's established himself as one of the top perimeter marksmen in the country, converting 40.3% of his three-point attempts over his four-year career. He has a quick release, smooth arc, and strong lift that's remained remarkably consistent throughout his college career.
In half court sets, 67.5% of Sulaimon's offensive possessions came on three-pointers, per Synergy Sports Technology. He's not averse to putting the ball on the floor but he isn't particularly dangerous on drives due to his struggles finishing inside the arc. Sulaimon made 28-of-77 field goal attempts off the dribble, per Synergy, and further struggled to convert around the rim finishing on less than half of his attempts at the basket due to a lack of strength, size, and explosiveness. These were concerns scouts had early in Sulaimon's career. Now, they're simply red flags.
While he's a consistent floor spacer in the half court, Sulaimon also thrives when pushing the pace in transition. Per Synergy, 22% of Sulaimon's offense came in transition, where he converted on 41-of-67 field goal attempts (61.2%). His ball handling is decent enough, especially when combined with his speed, to succeed against college guards. Against NBA talent, however, it remains to be seen whether Sulaimon would find similar success in the open court. Another concern comes as Sulaimon's foul-drawing ability has seemingly withered as his college career has gone on. After attempting 5.8 free throws per 40 minutes pace adjusted as a sophomore, Sulaimon averaged just 3.5 free throws per 40 minutes pace adjusted as a senior. Usage plays a role in this decline, of course, but it's still a worrying trend nonetheless.
Defensively, Sulaimon is a fiery competitor and has sufficient lateral quickness to succeed at the NBA level. He spent his college career defending top-level NBA talent and while he's prone to gambling for turnovers, he's been able to succeed for the most part as an effective defender. He's an emotional player and will need to rein in those emotions defensively, as he'll regularly be outmatched physically at the next level.
Overall, Sulaimon's stunted development as a player may prove to be too discouraging for an NBA team to overlook in the draft. Even still, he has tangible NBA skills as a defender and perimeter shooter that could entice a team into taking a flyer on him via summer league, training camp or after some time spent in the D-League, particularly if he can find a way to become a more dangerous scorer. [Read Full Article]
Top NBA Prospects in the Big 10, Part Ten: #16-20
October 29, 2015
Rasheed Sulaimon arrived at Duke as a top-20 recruit in the class of 2012 and played so well as a freshman that it seemed inevitable that he would eventually make the NBA. Three years, an alleged sexual assault (to details of which remain murky), and one transfer to Maryland later, Sulaimon's NBA prospects are now uncertain.
At 6'4 and nearly 200 pounds, Sulaimon is slightly undersized to play off the ball at the NBA level and lacks the ball handling skills and court creativity necessary to play point guard. He has a decent 6'7 wingspan which enables him to get into opponents' passing lanes and force turnovers. Sulaimon averaged 2.0 steals per-40 minutes as a junior and had established himself as Duke's lockdown perimeter defender before his eventual dismissal from the university in late January. He's a good not great athlete and displayed advanced agility with his cuts on the offensive end and lateral movements on the defensive end.
Sulaimon took the ACC by storm as a freshman, averaging 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per-40 minutes. As his tenure at Duke went on though, his production plateaued. After starting 33 games as a freshman, Sulaimon was demoted to sixth man at the midway point in his sophomore season after Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood shined in the starting lineup. He reprised his sixth man role in a tumultuous junior year in which he averaged 15.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per-40 minutes in 20 games before the dismissal.
Though he's had ample time to work on his game and frame, Sulaimon's scoring and rebounding rates stagnated (albeit marginally, to 15.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per-40, respectively) and his off the court turmoil has negated whatever improvements he made as a defender in his three years on Tobacco Road.
Sulaimon's best offensive attribute is as a jump shooter. He made 24-for-66 (36.4%) total jump shots as a junior and showed a consistency through his tenure at Duke to hit with deep range. Out of the catch-and-shoot, Sulaimon converted on 39.1% of his shots as a junior and was very accurate when left open. In his three seasons at Duke, Sulaimon made 37-of-84 of his unguarded catch-and-shoot opportunities (44%). Sulaimon's quick release and strong lift on his shots results in a consistently smooth arc.
Sulaimon's strong shooting forces opponents to play him tightly, but his strong first step and agility enable him to get to the rim frequently. His preferred offensive move is to drive right out of the pick-and-roll and use the backboard to bank in a fading layup on the right side. He's not particularly effective finishing in traffic, hitting on less than half of his shots around the basket last season per Synergy. Another red flag with Sulaimon's game was that he took a major step back in drawing fouls over his junior season. After attempting 5.7 free throws per-40 as a sophomore, Sulaimon took just 3.4 per-40 as a junior and made just 66.7% of his free throws -- a curious drop from the 80.2% he made as a freshman, possibly related to the off-court turmoil which eventually saw him suspended indefinitely.
Defensively, Sulaimon has the potential to be an elite defender at the next level. He has terrific lateral quickness and quick hands, both of which give opponents fits and make them think twice about trying to drive. He's a fearless defender with a strong awareness of when picks are coming, which enables him to get around screens in time to recover on his man. He's always been a bit of a gambler in the passing lane, which hurt Duke's defense at times early in his college career. Last season, he turned those gambles into turnovers at a higher rate.
Overall, Sulaimon's off the court allegations (which he, and his family have repeatedly denied) may be viewed as cause for concern on what would otherwise be an impressive on-court sample size. With his combination of perimeter shooting and strong on-ball defense, he has the potential to reinvent himself as a 3-and-D specialist if he resides himself to spotting up in the corners, but he has some passing prowess to possibly do more than that. Now playing in a new system alongside talented prospects such as Diamond Stone, Melo Trimble, and Jake Layman, Sulaimon's best opportunity to contribute offensively will come as an off-ball sharpshooter. His defense, passing and experience will be invaluable as this team hopes to make a run in March, and if he can continue to rebuild his off-court reputation, which was damaged considerably over the past year, he could easily put himself back on the map as an NBA prospect.
Top NBA Prospects in the ACC, Part 8: Prospects #12-16
October 23, 2014
Rasheed Sulaimon is no stranger to high expectations. Arriving at Duke as a McDonald's All-American and the 15th ranked player in his high school class, Sulaimon had a good freshman year for a Duke team that made a deep NCAA Tournament run. His sophomore year marked a bit of a step back, however, as Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood's arrival redefined Duke's offensive identity and relegated Sulaimon to a variety of roles as a starter and off the bench.
Even though Sulaimon had an inconsistent sophomore season, he saved his best basketball for last, logging 12.4 points per game during his last five games, ending in a 20 point effort that ultimately failed to help Duke avoid yet another NCAA upset. While Sulaimon's efficiency inside the arc may have waned and his overall productivity stagnated, he once again displayed the same combination of offensive versatility and defensive tenacity that made him an intriguing prospect in the first place. As Duke prepares to insert a trio of 5-star freshmen into the rotation, Coach Mike Krzyzewski will need Sulaimon to shake off his inconsistent sophomore season and hit his stride as a junior.
At 6'4 ½ in shoes with a 195-pound frame and a 6'7 wingspan, Sulaimon has just decent size for the shooting guard position. He is a good, not great athlete on top of that, quick and agile in the open floor and off the dribble, while showing the ability to change directions, stop on a dime, and elevate to the basket. Getting stronger would allow him to maximize his physical gifts, however, as he is not the most explosive player and already shows trouble finishing effectively around the basket at the college level.
Offensively, Sulaimon saw his usage drop slightly as a sophomore while playing more or less the same role, as a jack of all trades for Duke. He still displays an intriguing skill set, particularly as a shot creator and perimeter shooter, looking extremely versatile both on and off the ball.
Sulaimon is at his best as a jump shooter, where he made 37.3% of his overall attempts, and 45.2% of his catch-and-shoot jumpers, upping his 3-point percentage to an excellent 41% on the season. He shows outstanding elevation and a quick release with NBA range and the ability to create his own looks in isolation and out of the pick-and-roll. While he is far less consistent off the dribble, he distinguished himself as an elite shooter with his feet set last year. His instincts as a shooter from mid-range are also very good, even if the results are still inconsistent. He demonstrates the ability to pull up on a dime, needing very little room to elevate and shoot from mid-range, even if he fact that he makes just 29% of his off the dribble jumpers shows that he is still far from effective in this area.
He is not a particularly good finisher at the rim, either, making less than 40% of his shots from inside of the arc and just 44.7% of his overall attempts around the basket, a very poor rate. It would seem as though most of his struggles as a finisher come as a result of his tendency to force difficult or contested shots around the basket, oftentimes throwing the ball at the rim regardless of whether there is daylight. He lacks the size, strength or explosiveness to convert these types of attempts against better defenses, which limits his upside as a shot-creator and overall offensive player at the NBA level.
Time will tell whether Sulaimon can find a way to improve with his ability to score inside the arc. He has a solid first step, is a creative ball-handler, and does a good job of inviting and absorbing contact, which shows in his 5.8 free throws per 40 minutes pace adjusted. That being said, he obviously prefers to drive right and, even when he does not, he tends to favor his right hand and oftentimes forces difficult finishes to avoid using his left hand. At his size, he'll have to learn how to get his shot off more effectively in traffic to find success inside the paint against longer opponents.
Sulaimon also shows promise operating out of the pick-and-roll, where he sees over one quarter of his overall possessions, and does an outstanding job of using screens to create the space to either get to the basket or pull up for a jump shot. As a distributor, he can find his teammates on the perimeter, but looks far more comfortable taking the ball to the basket at this point in his career. One would not confuse Sulaimon with a point guard, but he did a decent job of facilitating Duke's offense for stretches, looked to be a willing distributor, and rarely turned the ball over, sporting a 2.19 assist/turnover ratio. The versatility and unselfishness he demonstrates playing both on and off of the ball at the college level is very intriguing, as there simply aren't that many guards at the college level who can shoot, pass and handle the ball effectively.
On the defensive end, Sulaimon continues to show the aggressiveness that has distinguished him from his peers since high school. He displays excellent lateral quickness and quick hands, which allow him to be a very effective man to man defender at this level. Also impressive is his ability to guard the pick-and-roll. While he will have to get stronger to replicate his efforts in the NBA, he runs over screens and, occasionally, through screeners, recovering quickly and doing an excellent job of staying involved. His tendency to gamble, however, makes him susceptible to biting on fakes and losing track of his man, though his aggressiveness most often works to his benefit.
Ultimately, scouts will be watching to see if Sulaimon can pick up where he left off in March to overcome his inconsistent play and take a step forward as a junior. His talent is obvious, but it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to yet another influx of talented newcomers, including elite point guard recruit Tyus Jones, who will likely push Quinn Cook to the shooting guard spot at times when Coach K decides to use them in tandem. While playing time won't be guaranteed considering the sheer amount of guards and wings Duke has in their coffers, Sulaimon needs to continue to show growth on what could be the best team in the country, even if standing out consistently could be a challenge on such a loaded squad. [Read Full Article]
Top NBA Prospects in the ACC, Part 3: Rasheed Sulaimon Scouting Video
September 6, 2013
Mike Schmitz is the video analyst for DraftExpress. Follow him on twitter and subscribe to the DraftExpress YouTube page. He will be breaking down the NBA draft in digital format all year long for us.
USA Basketball U19 World Championship Training Camp Report, Part Two
June 19, 2013
Projected to be one of the most important players on the roster going into this event, Sulaimon did little to disprove that notion here in Colorado Springs in front of his college coach Mike Kryzewski.
Despite being hampered somewhat by an injured wrist (suffered here diving for a loose ball), Sulaimon showed the same blend of versatility and smarts that made him such a highly touted high school recruit, spending considerable time running the point guard position during the scrimmages and not really looking out of place.
He was terrific in transition, unselfish creating for others in the half-court, extremely intense on the defensive end, and rarely made any mistakes. When the opposing defense was practicing their 2-3 zone, he quickly showed the perils of doing so against the US squad in a real game, knocking down a barrage of 3-pointers that had to put the US coaching staff at ease. After making 37% of his 3-point attempts as a freshman at Duke, Sulaimon will have to continue to shoot the ball consistently to keep international defenses honest and provide his big men and slashing guards with the spacing they need to take advantage of their superior physical attributes. While Sulaimon still has work to do with pull-up jumper, as a finisher around the basket, and as an all-around creator in the half-court, he brings plenty of other things to the table that would lead you to believe that he'll have a long career at the NBA level as long as he continues to improve.
Boost Mobile Elite 24: Scouting Reports (Part One)
September 6, 2011
One of the more impressive guards we saw at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 was Duke commit Rasheed Sulaimon (#10 Scout, #12 ESPN, #32 Rivals), a hard working late-bloomer who continues to get better.
Listed at 6'3 (but likely closer to 6-4 or 6-5) with long arms that allow him to play bigger than his height, Sulaimon is an extremely smooth athlete. He needs to continue adding weight to his frame, but can play above the rim in transition, has a terrific first step, and displays good lateral quickness on the defensive end.
Few guards at the high school level display his combination of scoring versatility and agressiveness. Able to make plays in the mid-range area or draw contact at the basket with a full head of steam, Sulaimon can score with a floater in the paint, a silky smooth pull-up jumper, and an increasingly consistent catch-and-shoot jump shot that he knocks down with range. He draws fouls at a high rate and is absolutely tenacious in transition, often finishing plays above the rim and through contact. He needs to continue improving the consistency of his jumper and polish up his advanced ball-handling skills, but Sulaimon has improved his scoring arsenal considerably in recent years, and doesn't take no for an answer in his quest for getting buckets.
On top of his ability to score the ball, Sulaimon is a heady passer. He's a competitive, but unselfish player who isn't afraid to give the ball up intelligently when his teammate has a better look. He does drive into trouble from time to time, but was one of the more mature players we watched over the course of the week in Los Angeles, something that bodes well for his transition to the college level.
On the defensive end, Sulaimon's length, toughness and competitiveness make him a capable stopper. He has the potential to defend both guard positions at the next level, and with increased strength, could be a real asset on that end of the floor.
Sulaimon has always been known for his demeanor on the floor and his intelligence off it. At the Boost Mobile Elite 24, it appeared to us that his skill set has really begun to catch up with his physical tools and intangibles. If his body continues to fill out, he's going to a prospect to keep tabs on already as a freshman at Duke. [Read Full Article]
Boost Mobile Elite 24: Duke-UNC Smackdown, Part Five
August 29, 2011
Our renowned Duke-UNC Smackdown continues with another session at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game in Los Angeles.