After a very promising sophomore season, Ahmad Nivins took somewhat of a step back as a junior, seeing his production levels slightly fall as he dealt with some ankle injuries and tried to remodel his game with some added finesse. Now a senior, his slight down year looks more than worth it seeing how hes blossomed into a star for St. Josephs, where his production and efficiency are up across the board, as hes cracked the statistical top 25 in a slew of categories in our database.
Compared to when we last wrote about Nivins two years ago, his game has progressed significantly in many phases. One thing that jumps out immediately is that his FG%, FT%, and True Shooting% have each steadily increased over the past three seasons, even with his huge bump in usage this season. Another statistic of note is the fact that he plays an astounding 39.6 minutes per game, #1 in our entire database, and posts an outrageous 72% True Shooting percentage also good for #1. More impressive than that is his consistency over the course of the season, as looking at his game log hes scored more than 14 points in every contest this season and the worst hes shot from the field in one game this season was 5-for-11.
Although hes made significant improvements in his stat-lines, Nivins is still very much the same player physically, aside from having a well-noted boost in conditioning. Boasting pretty good length and a very strong frame at 69, hes both mobile and coordinated for a player his size, but he lacks in quickness, and his explosiveness from static and near-static situations is not much to speak of. However, when he has a head start, such as on pick-and-rolls and in transition, Nivins is able to get off the floor quite well, but this unfortunately doesnt help him much in his post-up game.
Looking at his game, the one area that stands out the most in comparing with years past is Nivins finesse game on offense, which has improved notably over the past two years. While he isnt going to fool anyone for Chris Bosh, he shows a respectable ability to face-up and put the ball on the floor for straight-line dribbles from the 15-foot range, scoring on running hooks and pull-up jumpers despite a lack of quickness. Speaking of his face-up game, Nivins mid-range jump shot is much improved as well, as he shows good form from 15 feet out featuring a high and quick release and a shot that he hits with relative consistency.
In the post, Nivins has a decent repertoire of moves at his disposal, and his awareness and decisiveness have both steadily improved over the past few seasons. He can turn to his left or right shoulder, fade away with hook shots and turnaround jumpers, or attack the basket strong with drop steps and step-throughs, while he shows a nice command of reverse lay-ups at the rim and shows a decent command of counter-moves. Due to his lack of explosiveness from standstill positions, Nivins is mostly an under-the-rim player in back-to-basket situations, but his game has evolved to the point that he doesnt simply rely on his brute strength to get the job done, now having a pretty well-diversified attack.
While Nivins game hasnt been exposed against elite competition this season, his production did somewhat drop-off against teams such as Texas and Villanova, where he showed some struggles dealing with athletic double teams in the post, and didnt show the quick decision-making skills to get out of the situation. While his post moves arent slow, the speed at which he gets them off would be below average in the NBA, and this could be a problem for him if he doesnt improve it, especially as a non-elite athlete at 69.
As for the rest of his offensive game, Nivins does a pretty good job getting open without the ball, especially on pick-and-rolls, where he shows a good ability to catch and finish with power and explosiveness. He also does a pretty good job getting out in transition for a man his size, and is a terror on the offensive glass, showing good pursuit abilities in combination with his size. Nivins also is much improved on the defensive glass this season, getting to a more than respectable level in an area that was previously a major problem area for him.
On the defensive end, Nivins shot blocking has gone up this year, as he shows pretty good awareness, though hell probably never be a huge threat at the next level in this area with his lack of quickness. In the post, Nivins shows pretty decent fundamentals, but often seems too content to just keep his hands up and move his feet, not showing much physicality, often leading to relatively easy shot attempts for the opposition. On the perimeter, his lateral foot speed is not great, and while hes pretty active and aware on pick-and-rolls, he just doesnt have the physical abilities to hedge and recover at a very high level.
Nivins should be an ideal candidate for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, where players in his mold have greatly thrived in the past. With an NBA-ready body, a pretty well-developed skill set, and after showing the ability to steadily improve his game over his four years in college, Nivins should get quite a few chances to prove he belongs in the NBA, be it in the pre-draft process, at summer league, or in training camp. Itll still be an uphill battle for him to get drafted in the second round given his lack of elite athleticism, but its certainly not out of the realm of possibility, especially if he can maintain his excellent production for the rest of this season, and maybe make the NCAA tournament.