NBA Combine Interviews: Snell, Young, Green, Blue May 24, 2013
[Read Full Article] Top NBA Prospects in the Non-BCS Conferences, Part Six November 20, 2012
After a relatively nondescript freshman campaign, Tony Snell became a key part of New Mexico's rotation as a sophomore. Snell saw his minutes (from 17.5 minutes per game to 25.6), scoring (4.4 points per game to 10.5) and efficiency (51% true shooting percentage to 61%) all take significant jumps during his second season in Albuquerque.
Standing 6'7" with long arms, Snell has good size and length a small forward, although at just 200 pounds he could stand to add bulk in order to defend his position at the NBA level.
At this stage of Snell's career, he is mostly a catch and shoot player on the offensive end. According to Synergy Sports Technology, over 76% of Snell's offense came out of catch and shoot situations, a role at which he excels. Snell has excellent form on his release, with a high release point, excellent follow through, and great balance on his jump shots, and he does a very good job of being in position to receive the pass and get the shot off quickly.
New Mexico coach Steve Alford runs a 2-out-3-in motion offense, which is able to generate a lot of open looks for three point shooters stationed in the corners, a system which does a wonderful job of taking advantage of Snell's proficiency as a catch and shoot player. Snell shot 48.2% on open catch and shoot jump shots last season, which was in the 86th percentile according to Synergy Sports.
Not just a stand still catch and shoot player, Snell got much more of his offense running off of screens to free himself up for open looks, up to nearly 24% of his offense (from under 8%). Snell's footwork looks much improved in this regard, and he is able to gather himself quickly for a jump shot attempt when coming off of baseline screens and curls.
Snell isn't quite as proficient when shooting with a hand in his face, with his field goal percentage dropping to 31.6% when guarded, which is right about average. This could be somewhat alleviated if he were more assertive in establishing an in-between game, as defenders are able to close out aggressively on him due to the limited threat he provides off the dribble. While Snell has shown some ability to shoot off the dribble, that has so far been used so infrequently that it is not something defenders game plan against.
Snell's limited contribution off the dribble is a combination of New Mexico's offense, Snell's average ball handling skills, and a penchant for settling for outside jump shots too frequently. Snell has decent quickness, and he shows some ability as a ball-handler, including a crossover that he is reasonably good with, but he can get loose with his dribble in traffic and overall doesn't seem to trust it very much. One advantage Snell does have is he appears to be more comfortable driving to his left, giving him an advantage over defenders who will instinctively overplay his right hand, since he is a right handed player.
Developing his ball handling and gaining confidence in using one or two dribbles for a pull-up jump shot or a floater in the lane is a key for Snell going forward, as his catch and shoot ability opens up considerable driving lanes for him. If defenders have to give pause before closing out on him it will also give him that split second he needs to get more quality catch and shoot attempts up.
One area where Snell might have some untapped potential is as a passer. Snell's 3.7 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted is a very good mark for a small forward overall, and especially when taken into the context of how relatively little Snell handled the basketball. Some of that is due to Alford's scheme, as it requires everybody be able to move the basketball, but overall Snell shows solid court vision, even if the execution of his passes aren't always up to the same level. Should Snell improve his ball handling and be able to get into the lane with more regularity, this could be an area of his game where we might see improvement.
At only 200 pounds, Snell would need to add significant strength to be able to defend small forwards, and even many shooting guards, at the NBA level. He can get taken advantage of by bigger guards and forwards already at the collegiate level, and this will only become more pronounced against some of the bruising wing scorers in the NBA.
Snell is also a very anemic rebounder, particularly on the defensive end of the court. Snell averaged only 3.7 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, which ranks towards the bottom of our database for small forward prospects. While adding some strength to his frame would help, Snell does not appear to be an overly instinctive rebounder, nor does he seem all that willing to fight for rebounds down low. With the loss of Drew Gordon to graduation, this is an area where New Mexico might need to rely on Snell more than they previously did.
That being said, Snell does have some tools to work with on the defensive end. He moves his feet well defensively, which combined with his length gives him ability to contain his man off the dribble. He does a fair job of fighting through pick and rolls, and he does a pretty good job of tracking his man off the ball and fighting through screens. Perhaps most importantly, Snell seems to give solid and consistent effort on this end of the court,
Snell has one definite NBA level skill in his ability to be a catch and shoot threat, which with his size and athleticism will keep him on the radar as a draft prospect. If Snell could add some weight to his frame and show more ability off the dribble and on pull-up jump shots, he could be seen as a potential role player at the next level. It will be interesting how Snell, and the New Mexico offense in general, is able to replace the loss of Drew Gordon, who was responsible for much of the post-up offense Steve Alford's offensive scheme utilizes.
Perhaps more important than any skill set Snell would need to show is an improvement in consistency. Far too often Snell would appear invisible during large stretches of a game, seemingly happy to relegate himself to standing in the corner and taking whatever opportunities came his way. So far through four games this season, Snell has started off his 2012-2013 campaign on the right foot, as he set a career high with 25 points against Davidson on opening night then bested that with 27 against George Mason two games later, getting to the line a combined 19 times in those three games. If Snell maintains that kind of mentality, he could improving his standing considerably amongst NBA decision makers. [Read Full Article]