NBA

Hood-Schifino Fills Dire Backcourt Need for the Lakers

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The Los Angeles Lakers filled a dire need in their backcourt with pick No. 17 in the NBA Draft by taking Indiana University guard Jalen Hood-Schifino.

Going into the 2023 draft with various options, the Lakers chose to bet on their future by taking a player rather than using their pick in a trade. What a bet it was as Hood-Schifino already shows great promise for LAL’s future.

From his stellar playmaking to great point-of-attack defending, the former Hoosier can fit right into the Lakers’ needs this season.

Let’s take a deeper look at JHS’ game and how great this 17th pick actually is.

IS HOOD-SCHIFINO THE POINT GUARD OF THE FUTURE?

There are various strengths to No. 17’s game. LA’s scouting department did a great job picking him up because his skills fit right into the team’s weak spots.

PLAYMAKING/BALL-HANDLING

In his lone year at Indiana, Hood-Schifino showed great promise as the main playmaker all season. Whether it was in the pick and roll or transition, his teammates reaped the benefits of his passing ability all season.

JHS can utilize his skill handling the ball with second units for LA this season. His ability to hit cutters or rollers in a two-man action can perfectly complement LeBron James-led second units.

Last season it was Dennis Schröder running that action, but Schröder’s ability in those stints pales in comparison to JHS’ potential. Hood-Schifino is taller (6’6″) than Schröder (6’3″) and is more imposing physically. Indiana’s offense was centered around the PnR and is the sole reason why the Laker rookie will be well-suited for Darvin Ham‘s offense.

‘Fino is visibly comfortable in a half-court setting. He has an ability to control the pace of an offense that exceeds his age. Seeing him run a three-guard offense with Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell — two guards who play just as well off the ball — will be especially exciting to see throughout the season.

POINT-OF-ATTACK DEFENDING

A massive hole in the Lakers’ backcourt that exposed itself during their playoff run was defense. They had to look to Jarred Vanderbilt for the Ja Morant, Stephen Curry and Jamal Murray matchups, but it was unsustainable because that’s all he had to offer. Jalen Hood-Schifino changes that.

His ability to defend ball-handlers will be the reason he finds minutes this season. Between Reaves, Russell and whatever other guards will be on the roster, JHS can pose as the best POA defender.

His 6-6, 215-pound frame isn’t the only thing that is imposing about him. It’s his 6-10 wingspan that, when being defended by him, turns him into a pseudo-two-way wing. Mix that with his natural physicality and you have yourself a league-average (at worst) on-ball defender.

EVERY WEAKNESS HAS ITS POTENTIAL

So, JHS can be impactful on both sides of the ball. Surely that’s all you need from a player, right?

Well, there are some weaknesses within his game that, if improved, can yield a long NBA career.

BEYOND THE ARC SHOOTING

Another strong facet to his PnR game is his deadly ability to pull up in the midrange. However, the same cannot be said when he steps beyond 22 feet. At Indiana, Hood-Schifino shot 33.3% from three on 3.5 attempts per game.

He was a very streaky shooter and good three-point shooting games were few and far between. But with that streakiness came good stretches. There is an upside to this, though. Historically, player who have great touch in the midrange and around the rim can turn into good three-point shooters.

If Hood-Schifino can find the bottom of the bucket from three at a consistent rate, it can be the difference between him being a staple in the second unit or struggling to find more minutes.

HOOD-SCHIFINO PLAYER COMPARISONS

Comparing unproven rookies to NBA players has had its up and downs in the past. But when watching Hood-Schifino’s game, it’s hard not to see glimpses of what he could possibly turn into.

Lonzo BallA great two-way point guard who struggled from three to begin his career but steadily turned into an above-average shooter.

D’Angelo RussellA crafty, decisive ball handler who is taller than his counterparts and has masterful touch in and around the paint.

Bradley Beal: With time, turned into a premier three-level scorer due to his bigger frame. Beal can be Jalen Hood-Schifino’s ceiling.

As far as I’m concerned, JHS can be inserted into LAL’s lineup on opening night and provide plus minutes. Not having to play under the expectations of a Lakers lottery pick like guards prior, Hood-Schifino should find it easy settling into this system.

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