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Alabama guard Kira Lewis (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Utah Jazz NBA Draft Prospects: Kira Lewis

Alabama guard Kira Lewis (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Closing in on the November 18 draft, the Utah Jazz will have plenty of options from which to select with the 23rd pick in the first round. The 2020 draft is loaded with guards, an area where the Jazz should have depth heading into next season but could see that depth evaporate quickly over the next 8-12 months. With that in mind, Alabama sophomore guard Kira Lewis could be an intriguing fit for the Jazz on draft night.

The Jazz currently own just one pick in the draft, after trading their second-rounder in 2018 in a move to acquire Kyle Korver.

Kira Lewis: 6’3, 165 lbs G – So – Alabama

18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 44% FG/36% 3p/79% FT

Pros:

Kira Lewis is an absolute blur in transition, knifing past opposing defenses with incredible speed. It’s not difficult to see how his ability to cover ground in college will translate to the NBA. Davis moves quickly and in control with the ball in his hands in the open court, leading to easy layups on the offensive end.

Lewis’ speed is also apparent in the halfcourt, where the Alabama sophomore easily blows past defenders and turns the corner off the dribble to create driving lanes. Between De’Aaron Fox, Lou Williams, Dennis Schroder, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, there’s a blueprint for players with Lewis speed and size to succeed in the NBA.

With added space in the NBA, his attack could really open up.

When Lewis gets into the paint, he uses long strides, crafty footwork, and well-timed leaps to finish around the rim. His 6’3 frame and 6’6 wingspan aid him when getting near the rim, though he utilizes floaters and push shots over opposing shot blockers.

Lewis shot the ball consistently at Alabama, knocking down 36 percent of his three-point shots over two years on nearly five attempts per game. Might never cross the 40 percent threshold, but enters the NBA with a respectable number compared to most speedy guards.

Did more dirty work at Alabama than most players with his frame would do in college. Was regularly around loose balls helping his team get extra possessions.

Moves his feet well defensively, and due to his speed and length, he doesn’t often get beaten off the dribble. Averaged nearly two steals per game as a sophomore which resulted in easy baskets in transition.

Reclassified for college after his junior year in high school, so he’ll enter the NBA as a 19-year-old and won’t turn 20 until April. Having two years of college under his belt as a teenager leaves extra room for development compared to some players in his same class.

Due to Alabama’s fast-paced, three-point heavy offensive attack, Lewis might adjust to the speed of the NBA game quicker than other rookies.

Cons:

At just 165 pounds, Lewis has a considerable amount of work to do on his body, assuming he has the frame to put on the weight. Thinner guards like Dejounte Murray and Rajon Rondo have made it work, but it could take time before he can get consistent minutes on the floor.

While Lewis has an excellent ability to breakdown opposing defenses with his dribble penetration, he lacks stellar vision as a playmaker, despite his five assists per game average. Alabama’s offensive scheme may have inflated his numbers due to the pace of play and high three-point shooting totals that other guards didn’t benefit from in college. He’s not a stellar pick and roll initiator and turned the ball over 3.5 times per game.

Though the speedy sophomore moves his feet well defensively, his lack of strength doesn’t allow him to match up against anyone but smaller guards at this point in his career. With his height and length that may develop in time, but for now, he’s going to be a backcourt defender only.

Furthermore, stronger guards have the ability to disrupt Lewis’s game on both ends when they get their bodies on him.  This also throws Lewis off when finishing near the rim, and is likely the reason he settles for floaters more often than getting all the way to the hoop.

Despite his wingspan and speed, Lewis plays mostly below the rim, especially in the halfcourt. Again, with more strength, his ability to jump in traffic may improve but until then, he’s a below the rim finisher which negates some of his finishing options when getting into the paint.

How Does Lewis Fit With The Jazz In The Draft?

With Mike Conley set to enter free agency in the summer of 2021, and Jordan Clarkson entering free agency this offseason, the Jazz could find themselves in desperate need of bodies in the backcourt sooner rather than later.

Having a player with as much upside as Lewis has as a scorer is good insurance in case the Jazz lose Clarkson, or feel confident moving Donovan Mitchell to point guard freeing up room for a fellow shot creator on the roster.

Lewis’s on-ball defense would be a welcome addition in time, though it’s unlikely he’s physically prepared to contribute real NBA minutes as a rookie, especially on the defensive end. The Jazz could use extra speed in transition that was never fully realized due to Dante Exum’s shortcomings in Utah.

However, if the Jazz see both Clarkson and Conley in their longer-term plans, finding the playing for Lewis to develop to his full potential might be difficult in a crowded rotation.

Ultimately, Lewis’s best asset is his blazing speed, and with the right development, he could be a winning pick late in the first round but may need more time to grow than most sophomores in the draft.

Additional Prospect Breakdowns:

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Draft Prospects: Jalen Smith

Draft Prospects: Xavier Tillman

Draft Prospects: Sam Merrill

Draft Prospects: Yoeli Childs

Draft Prospects: Tre Jones

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