One of many intriguing storylines we can anticipate developing in the wide-open Big 12 conference is the emergence of Baylor point guard Curtis Jerrells into the national spotlight. Jerrells is the second leading returning scorer in the conference and tops in assists, and is clearly the engine that makes Baylors fast-paced offense go. This is a team that likes to run, and Jerrells doesnt need to be told twice to push the ball up the floor quickly.
Looking at the last time we broke down Jerrells game, we see that his numbers remained largely the same between his sophomore and junior seasons. His scoring was up slightly, his field goal percentage down a notch, his assists remained the same, but he managed to cut down significantly on his turnovers, which is an important development. Jerrells is a feast or famine type lead guard, hes very ball-dominant, and clearly looks first and foremost to create for himself, before looking to create for others. Part of that is a product of the helter skelter nature in which Baylor plays, and part of that is his own mentality.
Jerrells is a bit undersized for an NBA point guard, but he makes up for that with his excellent quickness, which includes a very nice first step and solid ball-handling skills with either hand. He looks very comfortable running the pick and roll, which is a big staple of Baylors half-court offense. Hes a tough player who likes to take the ball strong to the rim and will finish through contact and draw a good amount of fouls. At times he looks spectacular with the moves he makes, like lightning in a bottle, and at times he looks completely out of control, over-penetrating and taking ill-advised shots early in the shot-clock.
Jerrells relies heavily on his 3-point shot as a source of offensive production43% of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, even though he shot just 33% from that range. More than any other player we can recall possibly in recent memory, nearly every shot he takes comes off the dribble125/145 attempts according to Synergy Sports Technologys quantified report. He gets great elevation on this shot, but is very streaky due to the degree of difficulty involved in shooting in this manner, as well as due to the fact that his release point is inconsistentoften shooting the ball on the way down. When attempting to shoot a stand-still jumper (on a kickout for example), Jerrells poor mechanics get truly exposed, as he brings the ball around the world from right to left with an awkward hitch, and thus takes a long time to get his shot off. Shooting off the dribble he is able to make this hitch much less pronounced, which is probably why he is so much more comfortable getting shots off in that fashion. There are serious question marks about how his shot will extend to NBA range, and whether hell be able to get it off at his size.
Defensively, he is not only undersized, but hes also not all that intense on this side of the floor either, which puts him at a significant disadvantage when being viewed as a potential backup NBA point guard considering his shortcomings in other areas. He gambles a lot and seems to give up on plays too easily, and like a lot of offensive minded young players, it really doesnt seem like playing defense has ever been a huge priority for him.
Regardless of his very obvious deficiencies, players like Jerrells are definitely capable of making the NBA, as he is very good at creating his own shot, and is a very instinctive scorer in general. He can also make some plays for others, especially on the drive and dish, and there is still room for him to improve on his defense, playmaking and shooting mechanics, which hell surely need to. Hes likely going to have to prove himself in settings like the NBA pre-draft camp first, though, unless Baylor has a really spectacular season, which is not out of the question considering their talent level.