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. Gradey Dick burst onto the scene with his shooting this season on an excellent Kansas team that desperately relied on his ability to spread the floor. He wasn’t a likely one-and-done player coming into the year with most expecting him to be a two or three-year player but those expectations went away quickly with the way he started the year. His flurry of points vs Duke to win the game in the Champions Classic officially put him on the map as a one-and-done candidate and he never looked back. Time to take a look at why Dick is seen as a lottery guy and what made him such a promising freshman right off the bat.
When you watch Dick the first thing that jumps off the page, is the ease and quickness at which he gets off his jumper. It’s a smooth stroke with little dip and a high launch point, making it hard to block from his 6’8″ frame. He was ultra-efficient all year, hanging in the mid-40 percent range for the majority of the year before a few cold games in late February brought his percentage down. Still, shooting 40% on nearly six attempts per game with teams face-guarding him at times is quite impressive when you also consider he was the Jayhawks’ only reliable shooter from behind the arc.
He also showed an ability to make shots off the dribble whether from three or two and the form had no issues when pulling up from one and two dribble pull-ups. He shot 46% off the bounce this year and does a great job of attacking closeouts and using pump fakes to get into the mid-range. In addition to those shots, he does a good job of taking and making sidestep and stepback three-pointers as well. He’s not an advanced scorer but he gets to his spots and is extremely accurate. Dick has range and should have little trouble adapting to the NBA line as well. He should step in from day one and be an excellent shooter in the league.
Gradey Dick is a legitimate 6’8″ and has room to grow into that frame from a strength perspective. That size is so key to him rising up over defenders and keeping defenders from blocking his shot whether stationary or off the dribble as guys were draped all over him in the back half of the season. It’s also what makes him such a solid rebounder. He has no issue putting his nose in there to grab rebounds and averaged five per game this season. He’s not a great defender at this point in time but he does have the size to help on that end of the floor and that is what partially kept him from looking worse there. He was good at getting his hands on deflections and steals due to his size and length. He will need to continue to fill out but he’s well on his way to having a great frame for the positions he’ll be playing which will be key to his career moving forward.
Dick isn’t a bad defender per se, but he did get hunted on switches at times throughout the conference season. He tries hard which you like to see and is a pretty solid team defender which is the minimum requirement to get serious playing time from Bill Self. It was mentioned above he can get his hands on the ball quite a bit but when left on an island he can struggle especially against guards. When guarding guys closer to his size with less wiggle, he does have an ability to stay in front a bit but as a true freshman did have moments where he was backed down in the post. If he gets with the right coach in the league he shouldn’t have a problem becoming a guy who can fit in and not get played off the court in the playoffs. He’s got a good baseline playing for Self at Kansas so as he continues to get stronger and learn more at the next level he should be more than passable. His rookie year and plus one year may be a bit of a struggle at times though.
NBA Comparison: Kevin Huerter
Huerter really broke out for the Kings this year putting up the best numbers of his career from a scoring and efficiency standpoint. He was a decent secondary distributor which Dick did show an ability to be this season even with the low assist average. The hope is Gradey Dick is a better shooter than Huerter has been over his career, as Dick was a better college shooter but averaging 38.5% on five attempts per game like Huerter has in the NBA would still be quite good. Neither are great defenders but Huerter was able to stay on the floor and was put on Steph Curry in his first-round playoff matchup this season. If Dick is able to become a third scorer for his team similar to Huerter’s past season then you are looking at a pretty successful late lottery selection for his team.