The notoriously late Pac-12 basketball games leave a lot of high level prospects in the conference unnoticed by east coast viewers, especially if they were underrated in the first place. Nobody fits that bill more than Tyrell Terry; unlike Pac-12 counterparts such as Nico Mannion and Josh Green, who were both five-star recruits, Terry was the 109th-ranked recruit in the nation. This, combined with the fact that he’s just 6’1, 160 pounds, has made him a relatively unheralded prospect. The small guard, however, is very much an NBA prospect after starting every game for Stanford this season and flashing big-time talent. Terry arguably has one of the higher ceilings in the 2020 NBA Draft, and any team drafting him in the late first round could feasibly return lottery value.
The primary intrigue with Terry comes from his shooting ability. He is an absolutely dynamite shooter who made 40.8% of his 152 three-point attempts and 89.1% of his free throws this season. However, there’s a difference between being a shooter and a shot creator; for an extreme example, think Klay Thompson versus Steph Curry. The latter is significantly more valuable because he can create his own three-pointers off the dribble and make shots with a significantly higher degree of difficulty. While Terry obviously isn’t on Curry’s level – nobody is – but he can make every type of shot on the perimeter: spot ups, pull ups, and off movement jumpers. This dynamic shooting ability is what gives him one of the higher ceilings in the class.
Here are all 11 of Tyrell Terry's 3 attempts from his 2nd game vs. Utah. Sure, it was his best shooting performance from last season (7/11) but think it highlights his shot versatility (off movement, pull up, catch & shoot) pic.twitter.com/qSjWJN7P9Y
— NBA Draft (@KnicksDraftGuy) June 5, 2020
Terry’s arsenal of outside shots spearheads his shotmaking intrigue, but there’s more where that came from. He managed to convert on 60.4% of his 96 attempts at the rim with just 24.1% of those attempts being assisted, per barttorvik.com. These numbers are particularly impressive when you consider Terry’s stature; the majority of the time, he’s smaller than everybody else on the floor, and he doesn’t possess outlier athletic ability to compensate. That means that there’s only one attribute we can point to when it comes to his conversion rate at the rim: shotmaking talent. Terry has a whole lot of it.
For someone like Terry, who isn’t an all-world ball handler or passer, the team that drafts him may prefer to use him as a secondary initiator rather than the guy consistently running the offense. This means it’s important for him to be a viable off-ball player, and luckily, he’s that and more. We already talked about Terry’s shooting prowess, and his repertoire includes off movement threes in addition to spot ups. Having both of these shots in your arsenal is necessary to maximize your functionality as an off-ball player. Terry is also very active off ball rather than simply being a ball watcher, meaning that he is always attracting defensive attention and knows how to get himself open.
Tyrell Terry’s gravity is absolutely absurd pic.twitter.com/r7QrSqiGh9
— Dom Tesoriero (@dom_tesoriero) July 15, 2020
Some of you may be familiar with the term ‘gravity’ as it relates to basketball. Essentially, gravity refers to the amount of attention a player draws offensively even when they don’t have the ball, typically as a result of their shooting ability. The most prominent example of a player with gravity is, of course, Steph Curry, who requires attention from at least one defender even as far as 40 feet from the rim. Terry’s shooting equity and off-ball movement give him similar gravity (to a lesser extent, of course), which makes him an invaluable piece to an offense.
I mentioned in the last section how Terry may not have the ball handling and passing ability to be a primary initiator at the next level; after all, he put up just 99 assists to 82 turnovers this season. While this may be true, calling his passing a concern would be a massive disservice to his playmaking ability. Terry has a good processor and is aware of what’s happening on the court around him. He excels most as a passer in transition, where his awareness allows him to set up his teammates for layups, and he has impressive touch on his passes and knows where to place the ball. Overall, Terry is a more than serviceable passer who can run an offense on a whim but is best next to a big initiator.
#Stanford guard Tyrell Terry has demonstrated elite passing ability for the Cardinal throughout the season. Two team fits include the #MilwaukeeBucks and #OklahomaCityThunder. Terry projects to be a first-round pick in the upcoming #NBADraft #nba #NBAProspect pic.twitter.com/0KmcJJLZ9S
— Gavin O'Leary (@GavinOLeary9) November 11, 2020
Terry’s biggest weakness is one that could prove difficult to overcome: his body. At just 6’1, 160 pounds, Terry is dangerously small for the NBA level. Pro defenders are a lot more physical than college defenders, and if he wants to be able to absorb contact and be able to score at the rim – which is necessary for him to reach his ceiling as a scorer – he’s going to have to put on weight. His lack of strength will also prevent him from being anything more than an average defender, and he’ll be lucky if he even reaches that level. There are very few guards as small as Terry period, and even fewer who have played at a sustainable level defensively.
2020 NBA Draft Comparison: Seth Curry
While Terry’s ceiling is a lot higher than the player Seth Curry is, this is a reasonable comparison – Seth’s brother, Steph, is too lofty a comparison, while Terry doesn’t have the playmaking chops of someone like Trae Young. Seth Curry is a solid player who struggles on defense but can shoulder a secondary initiator role while providing perimeter shooting in all facets. Terry projects to do similar things and given where he’s projected to be drafted, turning into Seth Curry would hardly be a disappointment. Terry could make for an interesting mid to late-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.