Gardner has solid physical attributes for the shooting guard position, but nothing spectacular. His touch and balance are his greatest strengths in this regard and it shows in his shooting, which is excellent. Gardner has a sturdy frame and looks to be a relatively strong player for the shooting guard position. His shoulders and core should enable him to play well in the post, though he doesnt have tremendous reach and wont elevate over defenders with his back to the basket. Gardners first step is average and he doesnt have explosive lift, but he gets up above the rim easily off one foot and can do it from a decent distance from the hoop. Smooth is the best way to describe his movements on the court, with the exception of his ball handling, which still needs some work.
As far as basketball skills, Gardner is a shooter in the mold of Rashad Anderson, just stronger. He showed a very consistent release and puts his shots up with nice trajectory and very limited arm motion, making every shot identical. Gardner drifted inward a bit on his shots, but it wasnt dramatic and he still kept the same motion throughout every repetition. During the 3 point shooting drills, Gardner shot 15 of 24 total and made 10 of his last 13 after warming up to it. In the midrange drills, Gardner actually looked much better shooting in motion, only having difficulty going left.
Gardner hit some decent shots during the two on two work, but certainly needed separation from his defender in order to get into his motion or penetrate the lane. Gardner really doesnt have the ball-handling ability at this point to free himself from heavy pressure, though it is has improved since his time at Missouri. The floaters and other in-between shots werent falling for him, so hell definitely have to work on this because his outside shooting and quick release will enable him to get defenders to rush him enabling him to get runners and other motion shots. His pull-up is strong however, so hes got some more offensive game to offer beyond his spot-up 3-point shooting.
In terms of weaknesses, Gardners athleticism might be considered the main one. He isnt a poor athlete by any stretch, but also isnt the quickest or most explosive wing player in the draft, particularly in terms of his leaping ability. His ball-handling skills have come a long ways from the drills we saw here, but his entire game from the left side of the court needs serious refinement, both in terms of his left hand as well as his ability to knock down shots going left.
All in all, Gardner clearly helped himself in this workout. His perimeter shooting ability should help him land a spot on someones roster this summer already, and the work-ethic he displayed both here as well as over the past year in raising his scoring averages from 10 points per game to just under 20 in almost identical playing time speaks volumes for his ability to continue to improve over the next few years. A top-level NBA executive we spoke with following the workout appeared to be even more impressed than we were, saying that he thought Gardner will surely make the league, mentioning being quite a bit more impressed with him than Shawne Williams, and openly saying that DraftExpress has Gardner ranked too low. From what Gardner told us following the workout, he has yet to receive his invite to the Orlando pre-draft camp, which comes as a bit of a surprise considering some of the players that have.