Chase Budinger has picked up right where he left off last season, making some slight advancements in his game and having no trouble adjusting to his slightly larger role on the Wildcats. The versatile and athletic wingman has made small improvements in his points, assists, and three-point shooting percentage, and shows no sign of slowing down as conference play begins. Budingers scoring actually was above his season average in Arizonas three games against ranked opponents thus far (#2 Memphis, #4 Kansas, #9 Texas A&M).
Budingers style of play hasnt changed much in his sophomore season, but hes getting things done slightly better in a few areas, most notably from behind the three-point arc. With his near-textbook form, boasting a high, quick, and consistent release on his shot, Budinger is shooting a very solid 40% from behind the arc, up from 37% last season. Hes been equally effective spotting up and coming off screens, doing some damage in that vein from the 15-18 foot range as well. He still isnt nearly as dangerous when pulling up off the dribble, but hes making more of an effort to incorporate that into his game, getting off quite a few shots in that manner from the 15-18 foot range, though having inconsistent success with it.
In terms of taking the ball to the basket, Budinger still isnt a great threat in isolations, but his improving ball-handling and ability with both hands bodes well for his future success. His handle is fairly tight, even though its not especially low to the ground and he doesnt use many advanced moves. Because of such, he struggles splitting double teams and dribbling in a crowd, but looks very comfortable in space, either coming off screens with the ball, finding open space on the floor, or handling in transition. Budingers dribble-drive game should benefit from the extra spacing on the floor in the NBA half-court game, due to the deeper three-point line, along with the tougher scrutiny on perimeter defense by referees, similar to the way Rudy Gay
s dribble-drive game has improved in the NBA.
Budinger has continued to show his excellent motor and basketball IQ on the offensive end of the court, constantly moving without the ball, making good use of screens, and getting out in transition. He finishes well in transition, and also has shown some nice passing proficiency there, with his assist totals up on the season. Budinger would be best off if he was drafted by a team with an up-tempo style, as his ability to play in space would best be utilized on a team that tries to catch defenses off guard.
On the defensive end, Budinger has continued to play well this season, though its worth noting that his motor is not as consistent on this end of the court, yet its still very solid. His perimeter defense is heavily reliant on his lateral quickness, as hes not very physical, with his game being almost entirely based on beating his man to the spot. His lateral quickness is good, but he is a bit stiff in the hips and he doesnt have the lowest center of gravity, so hes likely best suited to defend small forwards at the next level, provided his body can handle some extra bulk, which it should be able to. Budinger is also prone to overplaying at times on defense, either over-rotating while leaving his man open off the ball, or overplaying in man-to-man defense, leaving him prone to quick crossovers. To his credit, he recovers well when he gets beat, sometimes being able to move laterally and still get in front of his man on the second effort.
Theres a very good chance Budinger will enter the draft this season, and if he does, he should be firmly in lottery discussions. With his work ethic, athleticism, and foundation of skills, he should be a fairly low risk prospect, likely amounting to a solid starter at worst. His continued improvement and learning curve will determine how high his ceiling is, though he doesnt seem to have the mentality to ever be a #1 option scorer. Adding some strength, extending his shooting to NBA three-point range, and continuing to improve his ball-handling should be his main priorities at this stage.