Not much has changed since we last wrote
about William Buford
, but he has nonetheless established himself as one of the top senior prospects in the country and an essential element of an outstanding Ohio State team. Buford is the only prospect ranked in the top-17 of the 2008 RSCI
still playing college basketball, and is thus a fairly well known commodity as far as NBA scouts are concerned.
Measured at 6'5 with a 6'10 wingspan and a solid 209-pound frame, Buford definitely looks the part of a NBA wing player. Though he has improved his frame considerably since his junior season, he remains just an average athlete by NBA standards in terms of his first step, overall quickness and the explosiveness he displays around the basket.
While Buford's skill set remains largely the same as what we described in our previous report, his role in Ohio State's offense has changed. He's being asked to handle the ball in transition and act as more of a facilitator than he was in years past, which has increased his usage, but hurting his efficiency in the process.
Much of this drop in production has to do with his shooting woes outside of the arc he's converting just 36.4% of his 3-point attempts as a senior as opposed to 44.2% as a junioras in the absence of Jon Diebler
and David Lighty
he hasn't had as many open looks spotting up outside the arc. According to Synergy Sports Technology, he's taking more shots this year with a hand in his face than he did last season, and knocking them down at a much lower rate. He's also not making his open looks at quite the same rate, even if he still has plenty of time to revert to the mean as the season moves on.
His shooting mechanics, for the most part, are excellent, despite his lack of elevation and a somewhat slow release, but he has struggled mightily to convert them consistently. His worst shooting nights have come against teams with excellent perimeter defenders, as the likes of Victor Oladipo
, Brandon Paul
, Travis Releford and others have been able to key in on him far more than they were probably able to last season.
Buford's struggles creating efficient offense have validated the concerns about his average athletic ability and his likelihood of becoming a shooting specialist at best at the NBA level. With that said, it is wise to consider his body of work when evaluating his perimeter shooting ability, as other players have shown in the past that it's not uncommon for a player's efficiency to decrease with a more pronounced role.
Getting his jumper back on track is essential for Buford because of his lack of ideal physical tools and shot-creating ability, which seemingly limit his potential to contribute heavily in other areas in the NBA. Though he has developed his mid-range repertoire steadily at Ohio State and can find other ways to put the ball in the basket thanks to his excellent scoring instincts, the question remains of whether he can continue to improve and adapt to better defenders at the next level.
Despite his struggles as a senior, Buford continues to project favorably as a NBA role player, something he's already proven to be capable of at the college level on a number of very successful teams. He's averaging a career high 4.2 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted this season, which is near the top amongst true shooting guard prospects in our database
In addition, his size, length and excellent fundamentals give him a very good framework of skills to build off on the defensive end, even if he does not possess elite lateral quickness. Buford has good fundamentals and awareness on defense that somewhat obscure his physical deficiencies. Simply put, he is a good team defender on the NCAA's best defensive team. It's safe to say he will be able to at least hold his own on that end of the floor in the NBA.
While Buford possesses the intangibles to positively impact team chemistry
and is one of the best scorers in Ohio State history, he must continue to produce efficiently as the season moves on to prove his mettle as a valuable NBA rotation player. If Buford can prove that his shooting struggles are a blip on the radar, which his career trajectory suggests is the case, then there is little doubt that he can carve out a role in the NBA.