The 2023 NBA Draft is one of the more highly anticipated drafts in the past decade partly because of the talent at the top of the draft. Def Pen Sports will be breaking down 14 of the best NBA prospects that have declared for the draft this year. Cason Wallace falls nicely within those 14 and will likely add to the growing number of lottery picks under John Calipari at Kentucky. Wallace did have a good year and surprised some folks with parts of his game that many weren’t quite expecting which we’ll talk a bit about below.
During his freshman season, Wallace showed great defensive chops basically from jump street. His athleticism and quickness combined with good anticipation immediately stand out when you watch him play on that end of the floor. He combines those attributes with good size and strength for a player who only was in college for a year. He has a mature body that looks fairly filled out but obviously will have room to continue to improve at his young age. He should be able to cover ones and twos at the next level with little to no issue because of his body. He combines all of the physical attributes with really good effort and a strong competitive level that not many kids his age have on that end of the floor.
You’ll see Wallace consistently jump passing lanes as he uses a high defensive IQ to consistently make plays around the ball. He has such good patience when defending on an island and can effortlessly slide his feet. He’s pretty impressive as a defender and with NBA coaching will only continue to get better on that end of the floor.
Spot Up Shooting
This part of Cason Wallace’s game was a bit of a surprise to some when he flashed an ability to consistently knock down open jumpers from deep. He wasn’t a bad shooter coming to Kentucky but he was up over 40% from three-point range for most of the year. He eventually dropped down to 35% but the stroke had good mechanics when spotting up. He showed flashes of a decent pull-up game as well and you can project him out a bit to be a decent shooter in the mid-range similar to a Jrue Holiday maybe one day. Holiday isn’t an excellent shooter but shows moments and flashes of a solid pull-up game.
The one thing that is so impressive about Wallace’s shot is that he has no wasted motion in his jump shot. It’s oftentimes a smooth-looking shot, especially when open from deep which is when took most of his shots. Early in the season teams looked to go under on him when Wallace was involved in screens but he made them pay. Teams finally began to learn that he was going to make him pay and that the percentages were fairly real. He has a good base as of now and will only continue to improve as a shooter and can become a reliable shooter at the next level.
As we mentioned above that Cason Wallace does have good quickness, especially on the defensive end. He doesn’t have much wiggle to his game on offense which hurts his ability to break a man down at times. He thrives when given a screen and gets downhill but with late shot clock opportunities, he can struggle a bit to beat a man 1v1. He doesn’t have a deep array of moves in his bag either which combined with his stiffness with the ball can cause an issue as an offensive threat. All this means he’s unlikely to ever be a main focal point on offense at the next level and is likely better suited for a complimentary offensive role.
NBA Comparison: Jrue Holiday
The similarities are easy to see. From the builds of their bodies to the way they guard and make plays for others. They score in similar fashions and lack the necessary wiggle with the ball in their hands to be a focal point on offense. Defensively expecting Wallace to reach Jrue Holiday heights is a steep ask but he has such high potential on that side of the ball and could be someone that finds himself on All-Defensive Teams sometime in his career. They both are solid spot-up shooters but won’t be mistaken for top-tier shooters in the league. If Wallace had a career similar to Holiday I’m sure he would take it and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see him play in a very similar style throughout his career.