Don’t look now but the NBA’s offseason is set to officially begin with next Wednesday’s draft and former LSU shooting guard Skylar Mays is hoping to hear his name called.
Most NBA draft accounts have Mays hearing his name called, but just barely so. The sites I’ve landed on have Mays going somewhere in the 50-55 range and the NBA draft only has 60 selections. Let’s look more closely at Skylar Mays: NBA prospect
Position: Shooting guard
2019-2020 Stats: 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists 49/39/85 shooting splits
Mays leaves LSU with his name littered all across the career basketball leaderboards. He’s top-10 in games played, games started, minutes, free throw percentage, free throws made, steals, three-pointers made, assists and points. He saved his best season for last, setting career highs in points, rebounds and assists.
As a senior the LSU offense ran through Mays, and the Tiger offense excelled for the second consecutive season. LSU’s offense was No. 4 in adjusted offense in all of Division I last season and that was thanks in large part to Mays excellent shooting from many areas of the floor.
When Mays drove to the basket he finished more often than not. Though dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Mays was good, maybe not great, at the rim. Mays scored 1.19 points per shot at the rim, which put him in the 64th percentile.
Where Mays will make his money is on the catch and shoot, which is perfectly suited for how basketball is now being played at the professional level. Mays was in the 86th percentile off the catch and shoot—1.21 points per shot— and in the 89th percentile on dribble jump shots. The corner three numbers aren’t great, admittedly. Ideally Mays would take more lefthand corner threes and try to bring the righthand side percentage up to the 33-37 percent range.
Some footage of LSU's Skylar Mays in the NBA Combine spot-up shooting and endurance drills. Mays ranked as the second best spot-up shooter among the 40+ participants we've seen Combine data on thus far. pic.twitter.com/cDNM9jQeD0— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) November 6, 2020
Defensively Mays is great using his hands to poke the ball away and force steals. As a junior Mays ranked second in the SEC in steals with 1.9 a game and maintained that same ferocity as a senior, forcing 1.8 a game.
The best part about Mays the defender is also the hardest to quantify: knowing where to be. Whether it’s beating a man to a spot on the floor, anticipating passing lanes, or being strong at the point of attack, those are all traits that an extremely smart player like Mays. Remember he was a 4.0 pre-med student while at LSU.
Mays will have to use his brain to hang because physically Mays has his limits. He isn’t quite tall enough to check most twos or threes at the NBA level, nor is he quick enough laterally to stay in front of some of the faster point guards.
But the biggest elephant in the room in regards to Mays is his age. Mays is already 23-years-old which is ancient in terms of entering the NBA. Mays is two months younger than New Orleans Pelicans’ small forward Brandon Ingram who just wrapped up his fourth season in the NBA. He’s older than Luka Doncic, Ja Morant and Zion Williamson. The fact of the matter is, if Mays was good enough to be in the NBA well...wouldn’t he be in the NBA already? That’s not to say upperclassmen can’t make it in the NBA, but they are few and far between.
I believe Skylar Mays will hear his name called next Wednesday. Sure there’s a ceiling because of his age and physical ability, but his shooting and smarts will help him stick. Will Mays ever be an All Star or make an All-NBA team? Probably not. But Mays has all the intangibles—and basketball ability—to play eight to 12 years at the highest level.