This is the 19th in a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: Rodney Hood of Duke.
RODNEY HOOD, Duke
6-foot-8, 210 pounds
HIS STORY: Many college programs build their rosters with transfers (see Iowa State), but Duke is definitely not a player in the now-thriving collegiate transfer market. However, the Blue Devils made an exception for Rodney Hood. He played his freshman year at Mississippi State, earning a berth on the All-SEC freshman team, and then bolted for Durham. After sitting out his transfer year, he garnered a lot of attention coming into the season as part of Duke's incoming newcomers class, which was headed by Jabari Parker. The Blue Devils, however, fell far from expectations and were ousted from the NCAA Tournament in an opening-game loss to Mercer. Hood didn't disappoint, though; he earned All-ACC second-team honors as he scored 16.1 points and grabbed 3.9 rebounds per game.
HIS STRENGTHS: Hood is a very skilled, left-handed player on the wing. He has a smooth jumper with a good, high release point, and he made 42 percent of his 3-point attempts last year. Defenders closing out to him are in trouble; he has a great understanding of when and how to go by guys off the catch. Hood is a very controlled player and it shows in his ability to knock down pull-up jumpers. Duke commonly played small with Hood at the power forward, allowing him to take advantage of bigger, slower defenders. Mike Krzyrzewski ran an NBA-style offense this year, to the benefit of Hood. He operated out of isolation and pick-and-roll a lot, which showcased his ability to handle the ball and create offense for himself and teammates (also smart with the ball: 12.8 percent TO rate). The question remains if he’ll be able to create against the more athletic small forwards in the NBA.
HIS WEAKNESSES: Hood will be overmatched athletically at the small forward position in the NBA. He’s very fluid and smooth, but not explosive or quick with the ball. Off the bounce, he’s not creative and he’ll need to develop some solid go-to moves at the next level. He is currently very left-hand dominant, and his putting the ball on the deck with his weak hand immediately puts the defense in control of the situation. When Hood does beat his initial defender, he's not a good finisher around the rim. He doesn't seek contact and rarely gets to the line. He attempted 3.9 free throws a game, but consider that he played 81.9 percent of the available minutes, the most on the team. Defensively, he's a liability. He has average athleticism, average lateral quickness and only a 6-foot-8 wingspan. Last year, Duke’s defense was as bad as I’ve ever seen it and Hood was a culprit. At the next level, he’ll have to show more commitment to playing hard and helping his team gets stops or he’ll struggle to find the court. This also calls into question his motor, as it lacked on the defensive end and also on the glass. Grabbing only 3.9 rebounds a game while playing primarily as a 4-man and logging a lot of minutes is just inexcusable.
IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? Yes, I’m a broken record, the Celtics need a wing scorer. Unfortunately, I don’t think Hood is it. While a skilled and talented player, I feel like his potential is not as high as other similar players who will be in the back part of the lottery or taken in the teens. He’s only played two years in college but he’s already 21 and will be 22 by the start of next season. I think his deficiencies on the offensive end, coupled with his defensive weaknesses and lack of motor, provide too many question marks with not enough potential positives to outweigh them. He could easily be taken before the 17th selection, but if not I think they should pass on Hood.
COMING ON SUNDAY: Nik Stauskas of Michigan