The NBA Draft is stacked this year, and Taylor Hendricks is a guy who frequently goes right around the Jazz’s #9 pick in most of the mock drafts I’ve seen. It stands to reason that he could be the Jazz’s pick. So let’s take a look at the fit, and you can let me know how you’d feel if the Jazz went with Hendricks at #9.
Taylor Hendricks is a 6’9”, 210-pound forward who just finished his freshman season with UCF. The thing to love about Hendricks is despite his size as a forward; he is a knockdown 3-point shooter and an aggressive defender. This makes him a great candidate for the NBA-coveted switchability and 3-and-D prospects. In his only collegiate season, he held averages of 15.1 points, 7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 0.9 steals.
It is easy to fall in love the Hendricks’ jump shot. On 4.6 attempts per game from beyond the arc, he hit 39.4%. Many of his shots were heavily contested, but he simply shot it over them with his size and quick leaping ability.
His good shooting also shows in his free throws, as he shot a solid 78.2% from the charity stripe.
Hendricks has the ability to defend around the rim with a quick hop and good size. There was a stretch where Hendricks played center in high school, and although that won’t be a consistent position for him in the league, he is more than capable of filling that role when teams go small.
It isn’t just Hendricks’ interior defense that is noteworthy, though. He is aggressive on the perimeter and is able to apply pressure to the wings and guards. It remains to be seen how he would defend against top-line speed like De’Aaron Fox, but he has potential for 1-5 switchability.
Hustle is one of my favorite qualities to look for in a prospect. It shows me you care and you are going to play hard. Hendricks has hustle in spades. Whether it is taking charges, crashing the boards, diving for loose balls, or working hard to ensure he contests shots.
Hustle is something that is hard to coach into a player, but Hendricks won’t need that, which is an underrated attribute to have. He’s relentless.
Creating his own shots:
Despite hitting contested threes over defenders and backing down smaller defenders toward the rim, Hendricks hasn’t shown a consistent ability to create his own shot. There have been flashes of potential in that department, but nothing consistent at this point.
He may not need to create his own shots and could still be a solid shooter and defender, but increasing his shot creation could help propel him to the next level of his game.
Lack of Aggression:
Hendricks has openly said he’s working on this, but, despite his many talents, Hendricks would randomly go scoreless for long stretches in games. At times he can lack aggression to go and get a bucket and will occasionally wait for buckets to come to him.
I’m not overly concerned about this considering he has the self-awareness to acknowledge it and say he’s working on it, but until it is resolved, it’s still a question mark.
Lack of experience against top schools:
This is nitpicky because Hendricks did have some games against teams like Houston, Florida, and Oregon, but the majority of UCF’s schedule was against unranked teams. They missed out don't he NCAA tournament and lost in the second round of the NIT to Oregon.
It would have been nice to see Hendricks play in March Madness, but I don’t think it will hurt his draft stock much.
Taylor Hendricks projects as a prototypical 3-and-D player in the NBA. The exciting thing about him as a prospect is that might be his floor. He could excel beyond that if he can add some playmaking and shot creation to his game.
If the Jazz want Hendricks, there is a decent chance they could get him, but it would likely have to be with pick #9. It depends on who is left on the board at that point, but I would certainly not be disappointed if Hendricks became a Jazz man. Would you?