As we discussed extensively on Twitter yesterday, the Utah Jazz decided to fill their backup point guard void via the D-League by calling up Sundiata Gaines on a 10-day contract. Gaines has been one of the most prolific players all season long on the fastest paced team in the league here in Idaho, and was ranked as our top prospect in the D-League before the draft in November. D-League coaches disagreed and allowed him to drop all the way to the 15th pick, but Gaines has shown to be a superior talent at this level and has given the D-League a big boost by earning a call-up during their Showcase.
Gaines is a reasonably athletic point guard who excels in transition and sports a chiseled frame that is substantially improved since his college days. He can create his own shot going left or right and gets to the free throw line at a high rate, excelling on the pick and roll in particular where he can get to the rim and finish (61% 2P) with an array of spin and pivot moves or find open teammates spotting up on the wing. He does a good job taking care of the ball despite the incredibly fast pace his team plays at, and appears to have strong fundamentals and a nice basketball IQ to help compensate for his lack of incredible physical tools.
The biggest question mark about Gaines (besides his average size) revolves around his perimeter shooting stroke, which has never been considered a strength throughout his career. He shot just 32% from beyond the arc this season and 30% as a NCAA senior, attempting quite a few shots which may indicate some shot-selection issues. With that said, he has a very strong mid-range game, being highly adept at creating space and knocking down shots pulling up off the dribble.
Gaines is a fairly tough and scrappy guy who plays good defense for the most part and is a very good rebounder for a point guard. Hes a bit inconsistent from game to game, something he needs to address, but should fit in well in Utahs flex offense and is the type of player Jerry Sloan likes.