Coming off a very strong junior season where he averaged nearly 20 points per game for the highly successful Baylor Bears, LaceDarius Dunn
has steadily improved his production his three years in college and has firmly established himself as one of the most dangerous shooter/scorers in the country. With last season's teammates Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh
both moving on, even more responsibilities will fall on Dunn's shoulders as a senior, and how he responds to that change will be critical to his stock.
Dunn's offensive game is highly centered around his jump shot, as by the fact that he took 242 jumpers in the half-court this past season compared to just 79 shots around the basket. Despite taking a very high percentage of his shots either creating in isolation or catching and shooting off screens, Dunn scores with excellent efficiency on his jumpers, to the tune of 1.13 points per shot this past season, and converting 42% of his 3-point attempts.
Dunn has an extremely quick trigger on his shot and is capable of getting it off even when contested, as he does a very good job using subtle moves to get separation. His release speed is actually somewhat helped by the severe lack of elevation he gets on his shot, which doesn't affect his ability to get off good looks at this level, but could be more problematic in the pros given his being undersized for a two guard. Dunn also does an excellent job of staying on balance and getting his legs beneath him for his shots, getting a lot of quality looks out of isolation situations and converting difficult shots at a very high rate.
On the downside, however, Dunn is prone to stretches of forcing the issue with his jumper, and his mechanics break down from time to time with him settling for off-balanced, contested shots and pulling up early in the shot clock unnecessarily. His raw ability often allows him to get away with this at the college level, but this is something that would need to be scaled back in the NBA.
In terms of attacking the basket, Dunn is mostly a mixed bag. Frequently getting the ball high on the wing well behind the three-point line, Dunn usually has a ways to go to get to the rim, while his first step and advanced ball-handling skills are just average at best. He slashes almost exclusively left (nearly 85% of the time), which is something NBA advanced scouts will pick up on very quickly and could make him somewhat one-dimensional.
On the positive side, once he does penetrate to the lane, he shows an excellent combination of touch, body control, and a penchant for absorbing contact around the basket, which allow him to score well in the lane. Dunn's athleticism is something we undersold a bit in our last write-up of him two years ago, as he possesses below-average quickness and explosiveness for an NBA two guard, though it's something he's still working on consistently utilizing in his game.
Off the ball, Dunn does a very good job moving to open space on the floor and coming around screens for jumpers, while the Bears also semi-regularly run backdoor alley-oops for him, which he shows good reactive leaping ability on. In transition, Dunn is dangerous once he gets a full head of steam, as he changes directions very well with the ball and shows nice creativity finishing around the rim. That said, he too often relies on his jumper in this area of his game, not taking advantage of his ability in open space frequently enough.
While Dunn tripled his assists per game average this season to 1.9, he still is a below average playmaker for a shooting guard and any transition to point guard or even combo guard in the future appears extremely unlikely. The one area he should focus on improving with his passing is operating out of pick-and-rolls, as he doesn't show much willingness to look for others in these situations currently, but is something he'll likely be asked to do in the NBA, while bringing the threat of the pass to the table should also open up his own offense some.
Defensively, Dunn shows just average lateral quickness for a shooting guard, and doesn't always appear to put a great effort in either, showing somewhat of a laid-back demeanor on this end of the floor. He is very upright in his stance and is prone to being beat by quicker players in isolation at times, while bigger players are capable of shooting over him. Dunn continues to struggle defending the pick-and-roll at times, not being very aggressive fighting through screens. Considering his below average physical attributes, this is something he'll have to work much harder on if he's to establish himself as a solid first round prospect.
Looking forward, Dunn should be firmly in draft discussions this year if he keeps on the pace he's set in his first three college seasons, as he's an extremely dynamic scorer with terrific instincts for putting the ball in the net. Despite his extremely unorthodox style of play, and underwhelming physical tools, undersized shooting guards have proven over the past few years they can find niches at the NBA level, particularly if they can make shots from beyond the arc at a high rate.
Continuing to improve his ball-handling and passing abilities should be among his priorities, and how he adjusts to life without Tweety Carter running the Baylor offense should be interesting to watch, as it could put even more shot creation burden on him, which will make it tough for him to find a good balance, as projecting to the NBA he would be expected to score much more in the flow of a team's offense.
The fact that he'll be 24 by the time his NBA rookie season kicks off will likely work against him in the draft process as well, as his upside is surely be deemed to be fairly limited considering his other limitations.