Height – 6’7″
Weight – 197 lbs
Age – 22
School – Boise State
Wingspan – 7’1″
DraftExpress Rank – 28
Season Stats – 31 minutes per game, 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 47.5% FG, 35.9% 3PT, 72.8% FT
If a team wants to add an athletic wing with an outstanding offensive skill set in the 2018 NBA Draft, Boise State senior Chandler Hutchison is their guy. Being from Boise, I have had the privilege of watching Hutchison grow and develop pretty closely over these last four years.
Everyone around the Boise State men’s basketball program will tell you about Hutchison’s character and work ethic. He is a team-first player that improved every year as a Bronco, and he appears to be ready for the next level.
Hutchison projects to be selected somewhere in the mid-to-late first round range. After pulling out of the NBA Draft Combine, there has been plenty of speculation that a first-round guarantee from an NBA team led to this decision. Could he be in play for the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 25 overall?
Hutchison’s offensive skill set is the primary reason why he has a good chance to be a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. His ability to score inside and out, combined with his speed, quickness and overall athletic ability made for a tough cover for opposing defenses in his junior and senior seasons.
There are only a few glaring weaknesses in his offensive game and I think both are things that can be ironed out. Hutchison could move better without the basketball a little more consistently. There were a few too many times he would have very limited movement without the basketball, but definitely showed more than enough flashes in this area to think it’s a correctable issue. Hutchison has shown plenty of potential as a slasher on dribble drives and cutting without the ball. Once he learns to really limit offensive possessions where he fails to move without the ball, his offensive skill set will take a leap to the next level.
The only other noticeable issue in Hutchison’s offensive skill set is the in-between scoring. The bulk of Hutchison’s offensive production came from the three-point line and around the basket. Of course, plenty of NBA teams may not see that as an issue, seeing as more and more teams want to get those shots specifically since that is the more efficient offensive approach. But sometimes players will be forced off the three-point line and defenders might be waiting at the rim, making an effective midrange game a valuable asset.
I would like to see Hutchison develop his shooting a little more off the dribble, especially from that 12-to-15 foot area or with his floaters. He flashed the ability to knock down floaters this past season as a Bronco but just needs it to be more consistent.
Outside of those flaws, Hutchison can do at least a little bit of everything else offensively, especially when it comes to scoring, as evidenced by his 44-point outburst against San Diego State and a 39-point showing against Washington. With his shooting, passing, ability to finish and so on, Hutchison has a foundational offensive skill set that coaches can really build upon at the next level.
Hutchison’s three-point shooting took a slight dip from his junior to senior season, falling from 37.7 percent down to 35.9. One key thing to note here, though, is that he only attempted 2.2 threes per game as a junior and 4.1 as a senior. Nearly doubling his attempted threes at a very respectable success rate was a big reason why Hutchison took another step forward as a scorer last season, averaging 20 points per game.
As I mentioned earlier, Hutchison is a guy that works hard to improve his game. His shooting stroke is a great example of that. Here is a look at Hutchison’s shot form as a freshman (Credit to Cole Zwicker for this clip. You can catch his excellent breakdown of Hutchison earlier this year right here):
Notice the dip, hitch and elbow out on the jumper, making it a very slow release. Hutchison’s jump shot has changed noticeably since then. Here’s what it looks like now:
The improved mechanics on his jump shot saw his three-point percentage spike by 14.6 percent from his sophomore campaign to his junior season. The improved mechanics led to some improvement from the free throw line as well. After shooting 66.5 percent and under from the line in each of his first three seasons at Boise State, Hutchison bumped it up to 72.8 percent as a senior. Still room to grow there, but there’s some progression there to think this might be a trend that can continue.
Hutchison’s ability to improve his shooting stroke obviously helped his scoring production, but it changed how defenses guarded him and opened up some important parts of his game.
Attacking off the dribble
While Hutchison is a very capable three-point shooter, perhaps his best skill set is his ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. Hutchison does a good job of utilizing his athleticism to get inside and finish either with finesse or explosion. This was due in large part to his naturally long strides that allow him to get to the basket quickly.
As a senior, Hutchison displayed a number of creative finishes thanks to excellent footwork. If he gets going downhill, defenders might be in danger of getting put on a poster:
Hutchison’s ball-handling certainly improved over the course of his college career, which really helped his ability to get all the way to the rim:
I mentioned Hutchison’s improved free throw percentage, and while a minor bump may seem insignificant, that might not be the case for Hutchison. Because of his ability to get around the rim often, it led to a career-best 7.2 free throw attempts per game as a senior. Matching that with his best percentage from the line thus far played a key part in hitting that 20 points per game mark.
One major aspect of Hutchison’s dribble-drive game is attacking closeouts. He did this extremely well at the college level, making defenders pay for closing out too hard or simply with poor technique. Again, this is a byproduct of his improved perimeter shooting, forcing defenses to respect it. When they did, Hutchison made them pay:
Of Boise State’s heavy minute guys, Hutchison was easily their best finisher around the basket, shooting 72 percent on shots at the rim. The reason that is so important is because 33.3 percent of Hutchison’s shots were at the rim. What made Hutchison an effective finisher inside was the fact that he possesses a good mix of explosive finishes and solid footwork to step around defenders. Here are a few examples of Hutchison finishing in the paint in different ways:
Grab and Go
The Lakers love to push the tempo. They played at the third-highest pace in the NBA this season. This was due in large part to having versatile players that can rebound the basketball and initiate transition offense immediately after. Hutchison is that type of player as well. He snagged 6.8 defensive rebounds per game, often surveying the floor quickly and trying to hit the defense before they were set:
Hutchison’s grab-and-go ability could be something that intrigues head coach Luke Walton. Boise State often played with smaller lineups, so pushing the tempo like Hutchison frequently did helped their offensive production throughout the season.
Hutchison’s passing is far from elite, but it is certainly a skill that he has in his arsenal. The basketball was in Hutchison’s hands a lot last season, racking up a 33.2 usage percentage. It was important for him to not only be a major scoring threat but a willing passer as well. Hutchison had his share of forced shots, but the recognition, vision and willingness to find open teammates was there fairly often.
It still could use some work, but this was another area of Hutchison’s game that simply got better and better as his college career progressed, tallying 3.5 assists per game in 2017-18. When he garnered extra defensive attention, especially on drives, Hutchison’s unselfishness came to the surface at times:
The Lakers were really hurt by their lack of wing depth last season. That became painfully evident in the time that Brandon Ingram missed due to injury. If Hutchison is on the board at 25 for the Lakers, his offense could be something that helps boost the second unit. His shooting and overall scoring ability could certainly help a team that struggled quite a bit in those areas this season.
As good as Hutchison is on the offensive end, he still needs a lot of work on the other end of the floor. The physical tools appear to be there for Hutchison to be an adequate defensive player, but he needs to learn to consistently apply them if he wants to really stick in an NBA rotation. The caveat here, of course, is that the vast majority of young players need plenty of work defensively coming into the NBA. Hutchison has some tools to work with, but the current product on that end needs polishing.
Watching the ball
One really bad habit for Hutchison defensively is his tendency to get caught watching the basketball. There were a number of times he would lose sight of his man because he was paying too much attention to the man with the ball. Here are a few examples:
Hutchison helps when he doesn’t need to and his man does the right thing by sliding over to the corner for a wide-open three.
There are a couple of things of note in the clip above. One thing I’ve noticed with Hutchison is he often hunches over defensively and puts too much weight forward. This is where his technique needs to improve. Also, he allows the big to slip behind him, which leads to him turning his back completely to his man, ending up in a very poor closeout where he loses his footing. Hutchison is really good at body control on the offensive side of the ball. He needs to learn to channel that on defense as well.
Another thing I’ve noticed with Hutchison’s off-ball defense is improper depth. He has the tendency to be too far up, leaving him susceptible to backdoor cuts. Defense away from the basketball is probably the biggest weakness in Hutchison’s game right now.
You saw a poor closeout by Hutchison in one of the clips above, due to getting himself out of position defensively, a habit he needs to shake. Another bad defensive habit is the way he closes out to shooters. Hutchison often closed out to shooters very hard, which chased them off the line but allowed the ball-handler to blow right by him and get into the teeth of the defense. This is another area where he needs to be taught better technique and better weight distribution.
Notice how Hutchison hops at the end of this closeout because he leaves his feet. He needs to learn to consistently close out with quicker, choppier steps while keeping his weight more balanced to protect against the blow-by.
Hutchison is a flawed player defensively right now. It is very hard to deny that. But he has also shown signs of his potential on that end. With his quickness, athleticism, 6’7″ frame and 7’1″ wingspan, the right coaching could turn Hutchison into a plus defender. Averaging 1.5 steals per game is far from spectacular, but it shows that there might be something there.
Hutchison has flashed the ability to be disruptive on defense, but he needs to really harness it. Consistency on the defensive end is going to be the key to Hutchison’s NBA career. When he buys in defensively, there appears to be something coaches can work with:
In the clip above, Hutchison does a nice job of using his quickness to switch (something the Lakers like to do a lot), stay in front of the driver and then use his size and length to block the shot.
Another area where I think Hutchison has some potential is jumping in passing lanes to create turnovers. If he ends up on a team that likes to push the pace like the Lakers do, the ability to force turnovers would help tremendously. Here’s an example of his ability to do so and the athleticism to outrun the pack in transition for the big finish:
If Hutchison gets drafted by a team with the right staff to coach him up on that end of the floor, he’s a player that I believe can develop noteworthy defensive prowess. As for right now, though, it’s still a work in progress. But there is reason to be optimistic Hutchison can become at least a quality three-and-D player at the next level.
Fit with the Lakers
Hutchison could help the Lakers in a few areas that they were lacking this season: wing depth and offense. Their up-tempo style would be ideal for Hutchison’s offensive skill set and athletic ability. Seeing as the Lakers made a considerable leap defensively last season after being consistently one of the league’s worst defensive teams, I would like to think that they could help develop Hutchison’s game on that end.
He might not even be on the board when the Lakers are on the clock with the 25th overall pick, assuming they don’t trade out of that spot. If he is, the Lakers should take a serious look at Hutchison. Multiple aspects of his game should translate well to the NBA, making him at least a quality rotation player. Hutchison next to Josh Hart with the second unit could be a lot of fun.
If the Lakers somehow do end up drafting Hutchison, they will be getting a high character prospect that works extremely hard to get better. Plus, Hutchison is a Kobe guy, so that should score him some points with general manager Rob Pelinka, right?
All stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com and Hoop-Math.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @garykester.
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