Terrance Ferguson made the unconventional decision to spurn college basketball and head to Australia, where he's been an import for the Adelaide 36ers. Nearly halfway through his 28 game regular season, we can start to draw some early impressions of how things have gone for Ferguson thus far.
On paper, Ferguson hasn't been an incredibly impactful player thus far, which was to be expected to some extent for those familiar with him. He's averaging 6.3 rebounds in 18 minutes per game, shooting 45% for 2, 39% for 3 and 58% from the free throw line, while generating very few assists, rebounds, steals, blocks or free throw attempts.
The film tells somewhat of a different story, though, as he's very clearly carved out an important role over the past six weeks or so. Now on a three game winning streak, Adelaide, at 6-6, is just a game and a half out of first place. Ferguson is even getting some crunch time minutes in highly competitive games, and the coaching staff clearly has a role for him that he's very much bought into. He seems to be gaining more of a comfort level as the season moves on, and could be in line for a much stronger finish if he doesn't hit the proverbial rookie wall.
Offensively, Ferguson is mostly a spot-up shooter, which has always been his strong point, and will almost certainly continue to be his role at the NBA level as well. What's impressive is how mature of a team player he's been so far, as he rarely tries to do things outside of his comfort zone, and has been a very willing ball-mover looking to make the extra pass.
Video Analysis: Strengths
Ferguson has had some occasional flashes demonstrating his explosiveness attacking defenders in a straight line, but is a very rudimentary ball-handler at this stage, even in the open floor due to his high and loose dribble. He looks a long ways off from being able to operate out of ball screens like most high-end NBA shooting guards can, looking uncomfortable handling pressure in the half-court. He doesn't have the skill-set or feel for the game to consistently use his athleticism the way you might hope, as indicated by his paltry free throw attempt rate (2.2 per-40 minutes), but most of his turnovers have come off trying to make unselfish plays for teammates, as opposed to forcing the issue looking for points.
Ferguson's jump-shot is the basis of his game, and that has translated fairly nicely so far, as evidenced by his 39% 3-point percentage. He elevates high off the ground, has a quick release point, is always on balance, and shoots it virtually the same every time, even with a hand in his face. He'll likely be able to make shots at a NBA level very early on in his career, especially from the corners, where he's extremely effective.
Defensively, Ferguson has been somewhat of a mixed bag, which is not particularly surprising considering he's an 18-year old going up against grown men. His narrow frame has been a hindrance in terms of being able to get over screens, wall off penetration, and avoid getting pushed around inside the paint, but to his credit, he's played with a high level of competitiveness, which has helped mitigate those issues to a certain extent.
Video Analysis: Weaknesses
He uses his length and quickness effectively to contest shots on the perimeter, will throw his body around in the paint at times, and is light on his feet with strong lateral quickness. He's gaining invaluable experience going up against professionals with a 24 second shot-clock, and has had some nice sparks showing the type of defender he can become as his frame continues to mature.
All in all, Ferguson has done a nice job of acclimating himself to the NBL, and it will be very interesting to track the final two months of his season. He's obviously built a nice rapport so far with his teammates and coaching staff, which has clearly made his transition far smoother. Ferguson's ready-made role as a 3'n'D wing has helped ease his adjustment to Australia and makes it easy to envision how a team can integrate him at the NBA level as well. He hasn't shown much at this stage to indicate he can be much more than that, which may put somewhat of a ceiling on his overall upside, and how high he could be drafted, but there is a huge need for players in his mold in today's basketball, which bodes well in his favor heading into June.
You can follow Ferguson's season on the NBL's official website, or on NBL TV, where his games are streamed in high quality for just $5 per month.