A native of Gaffney, South Carolina, L.J. Peak committed to Georgetown in 2014 and found success early in his career being named to the All-Big East Rookie team his freshman season. Making further progress in his sophomore season coming off the bench, Peak settled into a more consistent role as a junior, starting all 32 games he appeared in while posting averages of 19.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per 40 minutes on 60.2% true shooting percentage. Despite not being named to any of the Big-East All-Conference teams, largely due to the extremely disappointing season Georgetown had as a team, Peak declared for the 2017 NBA Draft.
Peak, who surprisingly did not receive an invitation to participate in the NBA Draft Combine, measured 6'4.5 with a 6'9.5 wingspan while weighing 215 pounds by USA Basketball during the tryouts for the FIBA U19 World Championship in 2015, solid measurables for an NBA shooting guard. Peak isn't an overly explosive vertical athlete, but he plays with pace and understands how to change speeds both in transition and in the half court. At the NCAA level, Peak was able to use his strength and overall physicality as a means to score, particularly around the rim where he initiates contact at a high rate (7.3 FTA per 40 minutes), and will have to continue to find ways to be successful in the pros where he won't have a distinct strength advantage.
Offensively, Peak has showcased a wide variety of skills from facilitating to attacking and finishing at the rim to occasionally making shots from beyond the arc. At the rim, Peak was able to use his strength and length, but also showed a willingness and ability to employ a variety of advanced footwork to create separation to get clean looks. Peak needs space to finish above the rim, but has shown solid touch, shooting 61% on all attempts around the rim.
The 21-year-old was an inconsistent shooter in three seasons at Georgetown, shooting 40% from beyond the three-point line as a sophomore, but seeing a drop in percentage with an increased workload as a junior, making only 32% on 101 three-point attempts. His shot isn't broken by any means, as he shot 79.6% from the free-throw line this past season, but there are inconsistencies in his perimeter jumper, most notably his shooting elbow flaring out at times while also landing off balance. At times, Peak's reluctance to take perimeter jumpers hurts his overall game, as he forces the issue at the rim, which resulted in charges, bad passes and low percentage shots. If Peak fails to improve as a shooter from the NBA line, it could be difficult to find a niche, particularly off the ball where teams can exaggerate tags without worrying about closing out a shooter.
To his credit, Peak has found a number of ways to impact the game that don't require him to be a ball dominant player. He's a smart cutter off the ball, he plays hard, and has a level of maturity that coaches appreciate. Playing on an underachieving Georgetown team kept Peak out of the spotlight to an extent but he fits the mold of versatile wings with the potential to bring energy on both ends of the floor.
While Peak lacks one distinct NBA skill, he has the potential to blossom into a valuable role player, especially as a secondary ball handler type in bench units. Peak has shown an ability to generate offense for both himself and teammates, playing on the ball as a playmaker quite a bit while at Georgetown. He's patient in the pick and roll, understanding how to change his speeds and attack downhill to get to the rim, scoring 0.916 points per possession. At the NBA level a concern with Peak is his ability to keep defenses honest, particularly in high screen and roll actions. If Peak is unable to make jump shots off the dribble from the perimeter consistently, his effectiveness as a playmaker will be nullified. Peak's value as a playmaker can't be understated, however, as he averaged 4.2 assists per-40 minutes, which is the fifth best mark among wings in the DX top 100 prospects. He has a solid feel for creating offense for his team in the pick and roll and does a nice job collapsing the defense and kicking to open teammates. Overall, Peak is a versatile perimeter player without a true translatable skill. His shooting will likely be the key to unlocking his potential as an NBA role player.
On the other side of the ball, the former Hoya has the physical tools to become an impact defender at the NBA level thanks to his strength and length. His 215-pound frame and 6'10 wingspan should allow him to guard multiple positions, much like did at Georgetown where he would matchup with the other team's best player fairly consistently. He's strong, long and has shown flashes of competitiveness, especially at the 2015 U19 World Championships where he served as the team's lockdown defender on a fairly talented roster headlined by Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum. His tools didn't always translate into defensive production on paper, as he averaged only 1.3 steals per 40 minutes, though this could have been a product of his environment and system as Georgetown ranked in the bottom half of NCAA schools in terms of opponent turnover percentage.
Off the ball, Peak has a tendency to over-engage on actions, leaving shooters to try and stop the ball, forcing himself into long closeouts. He has to be ready to guard multiple actions, stunt and recover, and direct the ball in pick and roll actions. On his closeouts, Peak tends to be a bit jumpy on fakes, opening his stance to allow straight line drives. Peak has the tools and pedigree to find his way onto an NBA court, though he needs to commit to rebounding on the defensive glass, where he averaged a pedestrian 3.3 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes.
Overall Peak is a capable athlete who has shown distinct versatility on the offensive side of the floor, but lacks one clear cut NBA skill. His perimeter shooting is a major question mark at this stage as his percentages have fluctuated significantly in three collegiate seasons, but he has the potential on both sides of the ball to help find his way onto an NBA roster. If he can shoot the ball well in workouts he could potentially sneak into the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft.
Lost in the midst of a highly disappointing season for Georgetown (losing their final nine of ten games in Big East conference play and finishing 7-11) was the significant development shown by their sophomore wing L.J. Peak, albeit mostly in a losing effort.
Peak shot the ball extremely well down the stretch for Georgetown, making a blistering 46% of his 3-pointers in the last 15 games of the year. He scored a strong 20 points per-40 pace adjusted on the season overall (53% 2P%, 41% 3P%), getting to the line at a solid rate and showing marked improvement in a number of categories.
Only 6'3 without shoes, Peak doesn't have outstanding height for a wing, but his very long 6'9 1/2 wingspan should allow him to guard shooting guards comfortably. He doesn't have the widest frame, but is a little stronger than he appears.
Peak has a fairly simple offensive game, revolving mostly around getting out in the open floor, making open shots, and being opportunistic with his drives. He has great quickness running the floor, which earns him some easy baskets getting ahead of the defense or attacking in the early offense, finishing an excellent 76% of his field goal attempts in transition according to Synergy Sports Technology.
Much of his progression on this end of the floor stemmed from the improvement he displayed with his shooting, becoming a highly reliable option with his feet set, something that wasn't the case prior to last year (25% 3P% as a freshman). He shot the ball with great confidence last season when left open, and even showed flashes at times making shots off the dribble. Peak doesn't have the most conventional mechanics, as his elbow tends to flail out, but he demonstrates a consistent release point and gets it off relatively quickly, even with range extending well beyond the college arc at times.
As a shot-creator, Peak is very much a work in progress still. His quick step allows him to attack closeouts (and take advantage of the new-found attention he enjoyed on the perimeter) and get to the rim nicely, slithering around defenders with strong footwork and body control. He is quick, decisive and occasionally explosive with his finishes around the basket, often getting deep inside the paint attacking in a straight line thanks to his strong first step.
While certainly improved, Peak is not a good enough ball-handler at this stage to be called upon to create offense for himself or others consistently at this stage. He doesn't change speeds or directions very effectively with the ball yet, being especially limited using his left hand, which makes it difficult for him to create high percentage looks for himself on the fly in the half-court. He's not incredibly creative with his finishes if he can't get right into the teeth of the defense, showing average touch on his floaters, and isn't a brilliant passer off the bounce either, demonstrating just average court vision.
As much as he improved making shots with his feet set last year, Peak has room to grow as an off the dribble shooter still, as he doesn't create much separation off the bounce and tends to release the ball on the way down occasionally. This simply isn't a big part of his game at the moment, which consists mostly of straight line drives and spot-up jumpers for the most part, even if he did demonstrate some flashes at times last year, making 12/28 (43%) of his attempts. It will be interesting to see how he builds on this next season with more offensive responsibility, and whether he's able to sustain the marked improvement he demonstrated as a 3-point shooter overall.
Defensively, Peak has been asked to guard anywhere from the 1-4 positions for Georgetown over the past two seasons, having some very impressive moments on this end of the floor. He covers ground well, has very quick feet, and can utilize his terrific length very effectively sagging off opponents and still contesting (or even blocking) shots on the perimeter.
With that said, Peak was inconsistent with this part of his game, taking a definite step back from what he showed last summer at the FIBA U19 World Championship for USA Basketball, where he played the role of defensive stopper for the Gold medal winners. He didn't always look like he's operating at full intensity on this end of the floor last season, particularly off the ball, and got beat off the dribble far more than you might hope for someone who should hang his hat on his work here.
This was hardly a problem that was unique to Georgetown last season, as the whole team was very inconsistent with their effort, approach and focus in Big East play, so it's tough to know how much of this is due to the situation he was in. What we do know for certain is that Peak will have to be an absolute lockdown defender to have any chance of carving out a role in the NBA, as he's simply not skilled enough to live off his offense alone.
Having a sneaky combination of coveted skills with his length, athleticism effective spot-up jumper and defensive potential, Peak is someone that will be monitored closely by scouts this season. Can he help what appears to be a fairly talented Georgetown team bounce back and make the NCAA Tournament after a very disappointing year? With Georgetown losing their most prolific and efficient offensive option in combo guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, L.J. Peak will likely be asked to step up, putting him in an ideal situation to improve his standing among pro scouts.
Strengths: -Not overly tall (6-3 without shoes) but has a terrific frame (212 pounds) and an extremely long wingspan (6-9 ½) that allows him to play much bigger than his height -Very good athlete -Can attack in a straight line with a very quick first step -Great quickness in the open court -Outstanding defender. Guarded multiple positions in Crete. Long and competitive Great lateral quickness. Can get up and put tremendous pressure on the defense -Gets in passing lanes on a regular basis.
Terrific defender. Catch and shoot jumpers. Pretty good athlete. Gets to rim.
Weaknesses: -Limited offensive player. Was neither a prolific, nor efficient scorer as a freshman or at the U19s -Poor outside shooter. Career 26% 3-point shooter. Made only two 3s in 95 minutes in Crete and 56% of his free throws -Average ball-handler. Called for a travel almost every time he tried to put ball on floor. -Often looked out of control trying to create own shot in the half-court. Can't change speeds or directions with the ball. Only drives right -Needs to improve shooting mechanics. Shoots it differently almost every time. Dips ball significantly. Sometimes flails elbow out, and contorts body sideways as he elevates for jumpers -Can't really create his own shot
Outlook: Solid role-player for USA. Defended, ran the floor, and mostly stayed out of the way on offense in the half-court. Made one huge 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter in the Gold medal game against Croatia.
Strengths: - Very good athlete with a solid frame. Can play above the rim with ease -Fairly smart, efficient player. Does not turn the ball over very frequently -Has a strong first step. Can get to the rim in a straight line. Finishes well around the basket -Decent shooting mechanics. Can make catch and shoot 3-pointers. Has the potential to develop his outside shot -Good in transition -Makes plays using his athleticism. Very good offensive rebounder. Gets in the passing lanes. Will block shots on occasion -Good potential defensively
Weaknesses: -More of an undersized (6-4ish) small forward than a shooting guard at this stage -Average shooter. Made just 28% of his 3-point attempts in 23 games at the Nike EYBL this spring -Not a great ball-handler in the half-court. Able to blow by opponents with his quick first step, but struggles if he needs to create in more advanced ways
Outlook: Lacks the elite size or skill-level needed to be considered a top-shelf high school recruit, but has a very nice framework of skills to build off that should allow him to have a good college career and possibly more than that if he continues to improve as an outside shooter and ball-handler.