Washington States Kyle Weaver
is an interesting prospect because, by the time the season ends and he begins training for various pre-Draft camps and workouts, very few people will have seen what he is actually capable of doing on the court. This is because of the three point-guard system that Washington State runs and the fact that Weaver is the tallest, most athletic, and most versatile player on the floor for the Cougars. Thus, Weaver exemplifies the dreaded point-forward label. However, unlike many who are given this misnomer, Weaver actually embodies such a role for the Cougars and has shown the ability and skillset throughout this season to potentially run the point guard position at the next level.
Since last season, Weaver has seemingly made strides in his offensive game. Most notably, he has worked on his perimeter shooting, which has improved from 23.7% to 38.1%. Last season he only attempted 38 shots from the perimeter last season, but this season, he has already attempted 21 in 15 games. Watching him play, he has become more comfortable shooting from long range. He does not only take set shots anymore, but also will give his man a fake and take a dribble in order to get open for a shot. His mechanics, however, need significant work. When Weaver shoots, he tends to push forward with a low release point. While his elevation is good, his form is inconsistent and despite his growing comfort with the perimeter shot, he must continue to work on his form if he wants to play at the next level.
However, most of Weavers offense comes off of the dribble. He is a relentless slasher, usually going to the basket when he has the ball in his hands. Weaver is not the quickest player in the world, but he somehow manages to get into the lane at will. When he does, he uses his combination of intelligence and body control to finish. However, the level of difficulty of most of his drives is represented in his lower field goal percentage (46.2% this year compared to 48.7 last season).
Considering how good his handle is and his high basketball IQ, the absence of a mid-range game this year is confusing. He showed last season, particularly against Vanderbilt in the NCAA tournament, that he can successfully execute pull-up and baseline jumpers, but this year, it has largely been perimeter shots or penetration to the basket. Occasionally, he will post up smaller guards, but his basketball IQ suggests that he can become a far more advanced offensive player with practice and work on correcting his form and some fundamentals.
However, this ability to penetrate demonstrates Weavers potential to be a point guard both at the college level and the professional level. While most combo guards settle for their own offense, Weaver is not only constantly moving in the Washington State offense, but he is also constantly thinking. He uses penetration to his advantage, and will kick the ball back to the perimeter if he the lane is too congested. He is the best passer on the Cougars and he uses a variety of passes, rarely throwing the ball away when deferring to his teammates. His offensive awareness allows him to find his own offense, but also to dictate the tempo of his teams offense. He ranks in the top 10 of prospect shooting guards in assist to turnover ratio as well as in assists though he ranks very low in percentage of team possessions.
While he rarely is the primary ball handler, Weaver is a quarterback for this Washington State team. It remains to be seen whether or not his high basketball IQ will translate to him being able to play point guard at the next level, but he does a very good job at this level being a major facilitator. The Washington State offense requires him to play a role, one that unfortunately does not allow him to showcase his full ability.
However, before he emerges as one of the premier players in the PAC-10 he must escape his current shooting slump (10/30 from the field against Washington, USC, and UCLA). If anything, this slump shows how Weaver is still an incomplete player on the offensive end. Then, he must prove that he can overcome his physical limitations to be an effective scorer at the next level. Weaver is a good prospect now, but he has to continue to work if he wants to achieve his potential.
That being said, Weaver is still one of the best defenders in college basketball. Using his long arms, solid lateral quickness, and average hands, he can often be seen guarding point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, and at times power forwards because of his defensive prowess. He is just as active on defense as he is on offense and is constantly in motion. He has quick hands and is able to poke, deflect, and grab the ball away from his man, almost at will. Though his defensive prowess is not as statistically evident this season, he is just as impressive as he was last season guarding some of the best players in college basketball on a nightly basis.
Despite the improvements he has made this season, Weaver still has a long way to go and a lot of convincing to do concerning his ability to compete at the professional level. He has many of the tools to compete against NBA guards, but he must continue to work on his offensive arsenal before somebody is willing to take a serious chance on him.