Canadian guard Josh Primo rocketed up the draft charts after a stellar performance at the NBA combine, showing off excellent maturity and basketball skills. He reclassified in high school to graduate a year early, chosing the University of Alabama over Creighton University to enrolled at just 17 years of age. With him declaring for the draft, he’s the youngest player in this year’s draft, turning 19 this December.
Primo started about 2⁄3 of the games at Alabama, serving as a threat off of the bench until his potential as a 3&D wing in Alabama’s sets showed through around fellow 2021 draft prospects Herbert Jones and John Petty Jr. While his stats were nothing to write home about, they overall were pretty positive. So how much stock can we really put into such a young prospect?
Per game: 8.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, 43.1% FG, 38.1% 3PT, 75.0% FT
Advanced: 56.5% True Shooting, 3.7 BPM (1.6 offensive, 2.1 defensive), 0.125 win shares per 40
Physical: 18 years old (turns 19 this December), 6’5” with a 6’9” wingspan and 8’6.5” standing reach, 189 pounds
As the modern NBA puts so much emphasis on the 3&D archetype, Josh Primo looks to start out filling that role and potentially develop into a playmaker and all-around offensive threat.
“Primo can shoot the hell out of the ball. In his single season with the Alabama Crimson Tide, he shot 38 percent from behind the arc on 3.8 3-point attempts a night. He has a high release and deep range on his jumper that looks silky smooth. The only issue at the moment is that he dips it pretty low on the catch. It’s not a huge concern and there are plenty of players in the league today who came out of college who ended up removing it from their motion.”
Made shots as always but also showed more upside as a creator than we had previously seen, with some really nice passes.
“Bizarrely, Primo kept his name in the draft after supposedly “proving” himself in a combine game in which he scored 7 points on 3-of-8 shooting. Sorry, but I gotta set the bar a little higher than that. Maybe he makes it – his age certainly is a wind at his back – but right now he’s a long way away.”
“The rest of this all seems extremely speculative though. Primo did very little on the ball and was basically just a floor spacer, yet still managed to have a pretty high turnover rate. His rate of 2.4 assists per 100 in SEC games is pretty sad for a guard prospect, even a low-usage one. While he was solid on D he wasn’t terribly impactful, with unusually low steal and block rates.” - Athletic
To make matters worse, Primo average 1.4 turnovers per game, which isn’t an enormously high number, but is almost double his assist average. He sometimes tried to do too much with the dribble or made telegraphed passes that led to live-ball giveaways for the opposition.
I would say that Primo has the highest upside of all of the two/combo guards profiled likely available at 30 (Ayo Dosunmu, Quentin Grimes, Joel Ayayi), but Josh would require a lot of development to contribute at the NBA level.
We could keep in mind that Devin Booker averaged similar but slightly better stats while not starting a single game at Kentucky (10.0p/2.0r/1.1a/0.4s, 47.0% FG, 41.1.% 3PT, 82.8%), but Booker showed tremendous poise and absolutely dominated the competition when given the ball.
“And I can take that kind of developmental liberty with this pick as Primo is only 18-years-old. He’d definitely be more of a project pick, not a player who can come in and contribute right away. He has the makings of a three-and-D role player, a prototype that not only every team needs but gets paid in today’s NBA. The ‘D’ component is less Trevor Ariza-y and more Danny Green-y, someone who’s more comfortable on guards.”