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The axiom goes that an NBA team can’t ever have enough wings. It’s true, and if you don’t think so then watch any 2021-22 Los Angeles Laker game (please don’t actually, I care about you) or how puny the Brooklyn Nets were in their lone playoff series against the Finals-bound Boston Celtics. Wings that are big, long, and versatile defensively will always have a shot at cracking a playoff rotation. If they can hit threes or even make smart reads as a passer, even better. If they can create their own shot then they’re going in the lottery. But a player in the 2022 NBA Draft that likely won’t get selected in the lottery but does hit those benchmarks? Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia

Cutting

Jake LaRavia is not going to be a guy you ask to create a lot of offense; he averaged just over eight field goal attempts per game over his college career and finished with a usage rate of just 21.9-percent. But LaRavia excels in filling in the gaps as a mover, a cutter, and a floor spacer, the primary ways he was used at college. He’s always vigilant without the ball in his hands. Once he sees an opening to zip through the lane, he hits it. Playing with a true point guard in Alondes Williams helped in finding LaRavia in those circumstances.

LaRavia shot 61.6-percent on two-point shots this past year and it’s easy to see why. He knows who he is and how to get the shots he knows he can make. He’s also more than sneaky athletic so he can punch those down once he gets the ball with that head of steam.

Shooting

LaRavia is also a very solid shooter. He didn’t shoot a ton of threes but he made 37.1-percent of the 132 threes he attempted over his three-year collegiate career. The stroke looks solid.

If Jake LaRavia is going to stay on the floor in high-leverage moments, he’s going to have to make shots like that. Luckily, he proved he can do so at a high level. LaRavia generated 1.5 points per possession on every unguarded catch-and-shoot jumper he shot last season, according to Zach Welch on Twitter. Excelling as a jump shooter as well as a finisher played a large role in LaRavia finishing last season with a 64.9-percent true-shooting percentage and a 60.6-percent effective field goal percentage. That he’s even somewhat close to the efficiency Chet Holmgren (69.1-percent TS; 68.1-percent eFG) posted is incredible and a testament to how well LaRavia excels at being a complementary piece. It isn’t as if LaRavia is only shooting corner threes like PJ Tucker either; he’s got NBA range and can hit shots on the move as well.

 

Playmaking

Another area of offense Jake LaRavia excels at is his passing. He reads the floor very well and especially so on the move, which will be very important in the NBA. Teams are going to force a team’s star players to get rid of the ball and force others to beat them. LaRavia can diagnose those defensive rotations on the fly and make the correct decisions to get his team a great look. This play is a great example. 

Towson traps the ballhandler. As they do, Wake Forest’s center slips to the rim. LaRavia makes himself available in the middle of the floor and sees the defender in the corner tagging Wake Forest’s roller. As he tags LaRavia zips it to the wing to create an open three. LaRavia is a smart and unselfish passer. It’s no wonder why he averaged 3.5 assists per 40 minutes (to 3 turnovers) and an above-average 17.8-percent assist percentage for his career. (For context: Karl-Anthony Towns and Thaddeus Young finished with a 17.7-percent assist percentage last season.) He has no problem manipulating a defense or making the simple extra pass. He keeps the machine humming.

Defense

The same way Jake LaRavia reads the floor offensively he also does so defensively. This side of the floor is where LaRavia’s bread gets buttered. At 6-8 227-pounds and a 6-9.5 wingspan, he can cover a ton of ground defensively. He has no issue disrupting offenses as a free safety. Watch here how he rotates from the weakside to strip the Towson roll man as he’s going up to force a turnover. 

That’s just one example of LaRavia putting out a fire off the ball. Here’s another. He begins the possession on a Towson big man. But as the ball rotates from one side to the other, a Towson guard is open on the left-wing. LaRavia sees it and zips over to make him put it on the deck, redirecting his rotating teammate Alondes Williams back to his original man. LaRavia sticks with the Towson guard and forces a wild shot as a result.

 

LaRavia can clearly defend in the team scheme, but he can put the clamps on people? That answer is also a definite yes. He’s got the quick feet to stick with guards and the size to stand up bruising wings. He didn’t have much of an issue sticking with two dynamic NC State scorers in Terquavion Smith and Dereon Seabron, both of whom fared well in May’s NBA Combine.

I think Jake LaRavia would probably be better deployed in more of a free safety role like a Robert Covington, but he’s definitely capable of being a point-of-attack stopper too, in my opinion. But it’s clear to me he is a plus defender. The numbers back it up too. LaRavia finished with a 12.7-percent rebound percentage, 2.4-percent steal percentage, 3.9-percent block percentage, and 4.6 defensive win shares (this stat continues to accumulate the more games you play. The more games one plays, the bigger the number. Veterans will have a bigger number than freshmen.). That is very similar to or better than a number of wings projected to go ahead of him in this year’s class. Here are how a few others that share LaRavia’s position in this class compare to LaRavia:

Jeremy Sochan, Baylor: 14.7 RB%, 2.9 STL%, 3.2 BLK%, 1.9 DWS

Tari Eason, LSU: 15.2 RB%, 4.5 STL%, 6.2 BLK%, 3.4 DWS

Kendall Brown, Baylor: 10.5 RB%, 2.2 STL%, 1.5 BLK%, 1.8 DWS

EJ Liddell, Ohio State: 13.7 RB%, 1.2 STL%, 6.5 BLK%, 3.8 DWS

Patrick Baldwin Jr., Milwaukee: 11.2 RB%, 1.7 STL%, 3.2 BLK%, 0.4 DWS

Jake LaRavia is just as good or even a better shooter than some of these guys with the defensive impact, but isn’t mocked in the top 20 the way these guys are or have previously been. I think that’s a mistake. LaRavia is right there amongst the most impactful wings in this draft whose game fits the mold of an Aaron Gordon‘s. He may be a junior but he’s still just 20 years. He’s just six months older than freshman Chet Holmgren and 12 days older than freshman TyTy Washington. There’s plenty of room for LaRavia to grow.

Jake LaRavia should be a top 20 pick in my opinion, but any team that sees themselves as a contender picking in the 20s (such as the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, and Golden State Warriors) that is low on wing depth should have no qualms taking LaRavia in the first round. He is a perfect complementary piece on the wing that can step in and help a team immediately. Every team needs players like him to get through the riggers of the playoffs to get that elusive Larry O’Brien Trophy. If you like winning players, then Jake LaRavia is your man.

The 2021 NBA Draft is slowly but surely here. Granted, a month later than normal, but a (still) raging pandemic answers to no one. But every year, there are a few prospects that twinkle my eye and warrant me highlighting as they reach the precipice of making the blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice worthwhile in fulfilling their dreams of becoming an NBA player. This year is no exception. Everyone is looking for wings that can shoot from deep. Arkansas wing Moses Moody is amongst the best in this year’s class.

Moses Moody is a complete prospect who checks just about every box a team would want out of a modern-day wing. His wingspan (7’3″) is on par with that of a pterodactyl, and if you needed proof then check out this photo of him from three years ago Moses’ mother tweeted showing Moses stretching his gangly arms from the floor to the top of a door frame. To think those arms likely have only gotten longer since that photo was taken. Moody takes advantage of his bountiful assortment of limbs time and time again on the defensive end of the floor to wreak havoc. He does a great job of getting deflections defending both on and off the ball and has good timing to swipe the ball away when his man goes up for a shot. Moody has solid feet to go with those long arms too to keep his man in front of him. Moody can have a difficult time playing through contact defensively, however, whether that be defending a bigger defender or navigating through screens, but those long arms and overall tenacity to stick with the play allows him to recover whenever he does get beat or still contest a shot from a larger offensive player. With his effort, size, and measurables, it’s hard to see a scenario where Moody is not a very good defender at the next level. 

Moses Moody’s defense provides him with one baseline to have a high floor as an NBA prospect. His shooting gives him another. Moody’s stroke is beautiful, majestic, and one of the best in the entire draft. If he gets a clean catch-and-shoot look beyond the arc, you best believe it will be cashed. Coach Eric Musselman used Moody in some creative ways and halfcourt sets to take advantage of Moody’s superior sharpshooting. This one right here in a pick and roll setting was a particular doozy that NBA teams run, or something akin to it, quite frequently.

 

Moses Moody shot a hair under 36% from three in his one season. Personally, I think he’s a better shooter than that percentage suggests. I think he can improve upon his 81% mark from the free-throw line, perhaps a more conducive indicator of Moody’s shooting prowess. Regardless, these shooting numbers to go with his defensive abilities are more than passable at the next level. He provides enough gravity to an offense that he should constantly force his defender to be occupied with the threat of Moody’s jumper beyond the arc at all times, and the ability to make a defense pay when his defender gets cute or is forced to rotate off of him to put out a fire elsewhere. Essentially, at worst, Moses Moody is your prototypical ‘3-and-D’ every NBA team can’t ever get enough of. What’s interesting is how much more Moses Moody can be than just that.

Every team needs as many ‘3-and-D’ players they can get their hands on. Sometimes though, that designation feels like a slight to a player that receives that label because it insinuates they can’t go eat for themselves as an offensive player. That’s not the case with Moses Moody. Before the start of the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend of games, Bleacher Report’s Draft guru Jonathan Wasserman posted a spreadsheet of prospects comparing their efficiency as pull-up jumpers. Moses Moody checked in hovering around one point per possession on pull-up jumpers over the course of the season. Granted, it wasn’t on the type of volume one would like from a potential lottery pick, but he did boast an efficiency better or near the likes of potential number one overall pick and high school teammate Cade Cunningham, other likely top five picks in Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs, likely top ten picks in Davion Mitchell and James Bouknight, and other lottery picks who play a similar style to Moody in Franz Wagner and Corey Kispert. 

The film backs up the numbers too. Moses Moody is already a pro at creating off the bounce after he gets run off the three-point line. This play here in transition is a great example of Moody leveraging his shooting ability to his advantage to get a better shot (a layup) in return once the defense takes away his corner three.

 

Unfortunately, that won’t always lead to layups, especially in the NBA. Luckily, Moody has great touch inside the arc to make defenses pay by burying them with floaters and mid-range jumpers too.

 

Clearly, Moses Moody is not *just* a ‘3-and-D’ guy. The first step to being more than that is being able to create in situations just like those, and Moody proved time and time again he’s capable of doing so. But is Moses Moody the type of guy to go get you a bucket whenever you need it? I don’t think he’s quite there yet, but I do believe he is capable of reaching that level as a scorer, which, combined with his other impressive set of skills, starts putting you on the level of stardom in the NBA. 

The NCAA Tournament was a bit of a rude awakening for Moses Moody, however, where he shot just 16-48 from the field in four tournament games. His efficiency waned the further his Arkansas Razorbacks went in the big dance. The Elite Eight matchup against the Baylor Bears was particularly jarring, where Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler flat-out refused to let Moody get comfortable at any point of the game. That’s where Moody’s area of improvement with his handle, strength, and playmaking really came to focus. 

But, Moses Moody isn’t starting from scratch here. His handle isn’t the tightest in the world, but with the help of excellent footwork and the threat of his jumper, he’s still able to create plenty of separation in 1v1 situations. Take this play against Texas Tech in the NCAA Tournament for example. Moody hits his defender with a jab step and follows it with a mean, quick crossover and then a step back to finish it off once his defender tries to get back into the play, splashing a jumper in his grill. Later in that same game, while Texas Tech was on the comeback trail and dwindled Arkansas’ lead down to just one point, Moody hit Tech with that same crossover stepback jumper to give him room to bank a three to get the lead back up to four.

Moses Moody’s got the finesse to his game offensively, but he also isn’t afraid of contact either. There were numerous games this season where Moody wasn’t seeing the fruits of his labor from his overall percentage from the field, so he made up for it by getting to the free-throw line. Moody shot nearly six free throws a game last season. Moody had six games this season alone where he shot at least ten free throws. He was unafraid to stick his nose in the thick of things on the offensive glass to try to buy himself either a layup or free throws. That type of toughness will not only help boost his own efficiency but help whatever team drafts him as a whole.

Moses Moody is one of this draft’s safest prospects. You know you’re getting a long, versatile, 6’6″ 205-pound wing that can defend multiple positions, spread the floor, and attack a closeout. In that sense, Moody reminds me a lot of Mikal Bridges of the Finals-forged Phoenix Suns. But I believe Moody has the tools to gradually work his way into becoming an able scorer who can initiate offense and be a constant threat roaming the three-point line like Ray Allen when he donning the green and white in Boston. I have zero doubts that Moses Moody is and can be a winning player in the NBA the second he gets there, and I firmly believe Moody becoming an All-Star and the type of player Allen was as a Celtic is within his range of outcomes. It’ll take some work for him to get there, but by all accounts, Moody is a great young man with a hard and diligent work ethic who is willing to put the time in to be great. The fact that Moody is one of the youngest players in the draft, having just turned 19 years old at the end of May, can’t hurt his cause either. Hopefully, NBA teams picking in the middle-to-late of the lottery see Moses Moody similarly, or they will regret not drafting him for years to come.