One of the youngest prospects in our sophomore rankings, Nick King had an interesting season coming off the bench for Memphis a year ago.
Ranking among the top-20 freshman in the country in both rebounds
and free throw attempts
per-40 minutes pace adjusted, King played the majority of his minutes for Josh Pastner's Tigers on the low block, managing to be very productive playing outside of his natural position of small forward.
Standing 6'7 with a 7'0 wingspan, King has very good size for a wing, but it was his dogged pursuit of the ball in the paint that helped him impact the game as an undersized big man a year ago. With some 60% of his possessions coming from cuts to the basket, put backs, and fast breaks a year ago, King's role was predicted on his finishing ability and effort. Shooting a terrific 61% around the basket and staying very active in the paint, King, who was maligned at times at the high school level for his intensity, played his role admirably for the Tigers a year ago.
The lefty knocked down 5 of the 22 jump shots he attempted last year, showing range out to the three-point line and a fairly fluid stroke in rhythm, but looked a bit shaky at times as well and made under 50% of his free throws. Not the shiftiest ball-handler or explosive leaper when he's attacking the paint, it will be interesting to see how he grows at the collegiate level as his skill set expands and he shifts into a more perimeter-oriented role in the coming years. He was a capable shooter on the AAU circuit, and led Memphis in scoring during their Canadian tour in the preseason, meaning there's room for optimism about his offensive game. With four of Memphis' top six scorers from last season moving on, there will likely be opportunities for him to step up this season.
Defensively, King plays with nice energy, but is still getting comfortable defending both inside and outside. He struggles to contain dribble penetration, and gets overpowered from time to time one-on-one. King, nonetheless, has some potential on this end of the floor as his body matures thanks to his size and length.
Like so many freshman we write about in the preseason going into their sophomore years, Nick King was a highly touted prep player whose first college season was more promising than it was telling. King's unique productivity playing undersized is attention-grabbing, but NBA decision-makers will be looking for him to make strides as a leader offensively from the small forward spot in a much larger role this season and down the road.