After two solid seasons at Indiana under Mike Davis
, Robert Vaden
chose to follow his coach to UAB after his resignation, forcing him to sit out last season due to transfer eligibility rules. Vaden reportedly worked hard during his season on the bench, which has paid off, as he has led his team to a 22-9 record, while averaging 21.8 points per game and earning First Team Conference USA honors. Vaden had made some slight adjustments to his game by becoming the clear-cut #1 option for the Blazers, which has resulted in less assists and less rebounds, along with a lot more attempts from behind the arc, to the tune of 11.9 three-point attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted, tops in our entire database. Even though Vaden lost some weight prior to the season, he still has a strong build for 65, though hes a below average athlete by NBA standards.
Looking at Vadens game, it becomes apparent quite quickly how reliant his game is on the three-point shot. 327 of his 488 field goal attempts (67%) came from behind the arc, and he actually shot slightly higher on three-point attempts than two-point attempts (.422 vs. .416). His shot has good form, with a high, consistent, and fairly quick release, which he can get off in a lot of different ways. Hes clearly at his best when spotting up in space, but he doesnt alter his shot when contested. He can also come off screens, catch-and-shoot on the move in transition, or pull up off one dribble following a shot fake. He does a good job getting his feet set in tight spaces to get his shot off when contested, but can show questionable judgment against more athletic defenders, sometimes forcing the issue, leading to blocked shots. He also will make some questionable decisions pulling up when he doesnt have good body control, but for the most part doesnt take many bad shot attempts, and hes capable of hitting some of the high difficulty ones he does try.
With 13.8 of his 21.8 points per game coming on three-point shots, the rest of Vadens scoring game really isnt much to talk about. Hell occasionally hit some spot-up shots from mid-to-long range, hell occasionally pull up off one or two dribbles coming off a shot fake inside the arc, and hell occasionally finish on some off-ball cuts, but he really doesnt have the ability to consistently attack the basket, not having the tightest of handles. He can take the ball to the basket in space, but struggles splitting double teams and doesnt show many advanced ball-handling moves, while most of his turnovers come from mishandling the ball or having trouble trying to penetrate the defense. Even when he does get to the rim, he doesnt show the best finishing ability, as hes not the greatest athlete, often throwing up right-handed floaters that arent highly accurate. To Vadens credit, he seems to recognize his limitations well and usually doesnt stray far from them, as evidenced by his ridiculously high number of three-point attempts per game.
Vaden does show nice court vision and passing ability, showing good sense to find the open man either on the perimeter, cutting to the basket, or in transition. He averages 2.5 assists per game, and averaged 3.5 as a sophomore at Indiana when he was less relied on as a scorer, while most of his turnovers come from ball-handling, not errant passes.
On the defensive end, Vaden shows good attentiveness and hustle, sticking with his man off the ball and playing good team defense, though his man-to-man defense is lacking at times, as he shows questionable lateral quickness and when his man is close to turning the corner, he usually will try to gamble for a steal rather than continuing to shift his feet. With his good hands and timing, this works some of the time, but it also leads to blow-bys.
Itd be in Vadens best interest to return to UAB for his senior season, where he could continue to develop as a player, most notably by trying to improve his ball-handling and ability to attack the basket, to become a more complete player. Hell need to become more than just a great shooter to have a likely chance at the NBA, though he should be a very productive player overseas if he doesnt make it there.