T.J. Warren NBA Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for Phoenix Suns Rookie

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T.J. Warren NBA Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for Phoenix Suns Rookie
Joe Raymond/Associated Press

School: North Carolina State
Height/Weight: 6'8", 220 lbs
Age: 20 years old
Projected NBA Position: Small Forward
Pro Comparison: Caron Butler
Twitter Handle: @T24Warren

Making the transition from secondary contributor as a freshman to the featured scorer as a sophomore, T.J. Warren erupted in a spotlight role for the Wolfpack. He finished third in the country in scoring at nearly 25 points a game despite being the focal point of opposing defenses on a routine basis. 

There's no real mystery as to what he'll be bringing to the NBA table. The ACC's Player of the Year, Warren should be viewed as an offensive specialist heading into his rookie season. 

Statistics at North Carolina State
PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
2012-13 12.1 4.2 0.8 .622 .519
2013-14 24.9 7.1 1.1 .525 .267

NCAA.com

 

PHYSICAL TOOLS

At 6'8", 220 pounds, Warren has a solid frame with an adequate 6'10" wingspan for an NBA small forward. He's actually down around 11 pounds since the start of his freshman season. Warren isn't a particularly flashy athlete—he plays mostly below the rim, and he lacks quickness and explosiveness off the bounce. 

However, he's pretty light on his feet for a guy his size. Warren gets most of his buckets on the move, whether it's in the half court or transition, where he blends mobility with body control and instincts. 

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

He registered a decent 35.5-inch max vertical leap and a better-than-average agility score at the NBA combine. 

Warren isn't a standout athlete, but he has the measurements and fluidity to make it work at the pro level. 

 

CORE STRENGTHS

Offensive Instincts

Despite lacking that turbo feature that propels the high-ceiling players above the rim for easy buckets, Warren still managed to light it up night after night. He just knows how to get himself buckets from every spot or angle on the floor. 

He can make shots in a variety of different ways—pull-ups, runners, fadeaways, leaners. And he drilled a remarkable 43.4 percent of his two-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math. You'll often catch Warren rising and firing over his man when he least expects it.

With a great nose for the rim and feel for the game, Warren's offensive instincts help make up for a lack of standout athleticism. 

 

Off-Ball Scoring

The fact that Warren can score in volume without a tight handle reflects his ability to finish plays working off the ball. He gets the majority of his buckets in the half court by slashing, cutting and flashing for catch-and-shoot score chances in the lane or mid-range. 

He's really active off the ball—instead of using the dribble to free himself up and separate from his man, he uses constant movement without the ball to shake free for an open look.

 

Offensive Rebounding

Warren averaged 3.2 offensive rebounds per game this past season, a number that can be traced back to his instincts and nose for the ball. It also helps that he's rarely standing still. 

He's one of those guys who always seems to be in the right spots at the right times. 

Warren finished with 55 putbacks on the offensive glass as a sophomore, per Hoop-Math.

 

WEAKNESSES, CONCERNS

Warren shot just 26.7 percent from downtown this past season, a somewhat troubling number for a projected small forward. 

He's also a mediocre passer vulnerable to tunnel vision. And given how limited he is as a playmaker off the dribble, he's not a guy who's going to create many shots for teammates. 

Warren racked up a total of just 40 assists in 35 games as a sophomore. 

You won't find many off-ball role players who can't stretch the floor as a shooter or excel as a passer.

He's eventually going to have to improve his shooting range and adjust his shot-to-pass selection.

Defensively, he has nice playmaking instincts, but he could have trouble against stronger 4s and more explosive wings. 

 

NBA PROJECTION

Immediate Projection

Warren has two valuable years of experience in the ACC—one as more of a role player, and one as the top gun.

He should be able to provide a nice punch of offense in a limited role early on in his career. But playing with less touches is going to take an adjustment. And that shooting stroke will be need to get better, given that many of the scoring chances he'll get will be on spot-up three-point attempts. 

 

Long-Term Projection

On the right team, Warren has starter potential based on his ability to take over games. He might be a tad one-dimensional in terms of how he'll be able to impact a game—he's not a lockdown defender, nor does he create opportunities for teammates or man the defensive glass. But in a role that can allow him play to his strengths, Warren has the game to put points on the board in a hurry. 

He projects as a long-term rotation player, whether it's as a top scorer off the bench or a complementary one in the starting lineup. 

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