Utah Jazz NBA Draft Prospects: Joshua Primo
Jul 20, 2021, 4:58 PM
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA Draft is fewer than 10 days away and with the Utah Jazz owning the 30th pick, they’ve been busy preparing for their different options in the first round. One player projected to be selected late in the first round of the draft is Alabama guard Joshua Primo.
Primo is the youngest player in the draft, not turning 19 until Christmas Eve. Despite his youth, the Alabama product stands 6’5 while weighing 190 lbs and sporting a 6’9 wingspan.
The guard averaged 8.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 0.8 assists in 30 games with the Tide.
Joshua Primo – Alabama: Guard
8.1 Points, 3.4 Rebounds, 0.8 Assists, 43.1/38.1/75.0
Strengths: Primo’s biggest strengths entering the draft are his prototypical NBA size for a two-guard, his youth, and his potential as a shooter at the next level.
First, unlike most 18-year-olds that have entered the draft in recent memory that require significant work on their body before they could reasonably see the NBA floor, Primo’s body carries some natural that gives him a bigger base than most teenagers.
Alabama's Josh Primo had arguably the best day of anyone at the NBA Combine yesterday, especially considering he's just 18-years old. Made shots as always but also showed more upside as a creator than we had previously seen, with some really nice passes. pic.twitter.com/B7NxevGGoz
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 24, 2021
Standing 6’5 with a 6’9 wingspan, Primo won’t have to do any further growth to reach his potential as an NBA player, though it’s not out of the question that he could continue to add height and length to his developing frame.
Second, as the youngest player in the draft, Primo has as much room to grow based on experience as any player projected to be picked late in the first round and early second round. Though he started 19 games in college, the guard reclassified to enter college when most of his peers were playing their senior year of high school basketball.
That gives the guard both the benefits of having played one season against better competition in the SEC, while still having the age and upside of most high school players.
Third, the skill that kept Primo on the floor at Alabama was his ability to space the floor, knocking down threes out to NBA range at a clip of 38 percent. Even if he wasn’t to significantly develop his other offensive weapons, his ability to shoot the ball consistently at his size will create a roster spot for him at the next level.
Was able to watch Josh Primo work out this morning in LA. Great size @ around 6-6 with a 6-10 wingspan and a really strong base. Shoots it easy out of a variety of different actions: 38% from 3 on 113 attempts as a freshman. Great balance. Primo won't turn 19 until December 24th. pic.twitter.com/5jVIMn7AlR
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) June 14, 2021
However, there were enough promising signs at Alamba that Primo will be able to develop his game beyond a floor-spacing two-guard.
The freshman has good control of his young frame and easily changes directions against defenders with the ball in his hands. When he gets to the rim, he has the ability to finish creatively over and around bigger defenders.
He also flashes confidence in his game as a scorer and shot creator that hints at the ability to develop further with age, despite averaging just 8.1 points per game as a freshman.
Defensively, Primo uses his long frame and nimble feet to stay in front of older more experienced players. He has a balance and strength on the defensive end that doesn’t show up in most teenagers’ games.
Given the time to develop, Primo is a far safer bet to grow into a rotational NBA player than many 18-year-olds given the lack of true red flags to his game.
Weaknesses: Though he shot the ball well at Alabama, his statistical profile as a freshman was underwhelming, even for a player who reclassified.
Primo scored in double digits 12 times, the same number of occasions he scored five points or fewer during his freshman season. While to his credit he only had double-digit field goal attempts four times during his college career, his ability to take over games as a scorer wasn’t blatantly apparent every time he stepped on the floor.
Furthermore, Primo never had more than three assists in any game as a freshman. With his ability to space the floor, the guard should have had games where he moved the ball around the perimeter to other shooters or attacked closeouts leading to easy baskets for his bigs and accidentally recorded four or more assists in any one game.
Here's Josh Primo in the NBA Combine shooting drills. pic.twitter.com/twWjN5Z3u5
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 24, 2021
As an unproven scorer, Primo’s lack of playmaking in a supporting role could significantly impact his upside as an NBA player. He showed some upside during the combine as a playmaker, but it has a ways to go before it’s a reliable tool in the NBA.
To make matters worse, Primo average 1.4 turnovers per game, which isn’t an enormously high number, but is almost double his assist average. He sometimes tried to do too much with the dribble or made telegraphed passes that led to live-ball giveaways for the opposition.
Finally, he’ll have to improve his speed and agility to prove he can beat opposing defenders off the dribble, which could help up his scoring and assist numbers while lowering the number of careless turnovers.
Overall: Ultimately Primo’s combination of size, youth, and shooting potential makes him a relatively safe draft pick at the end of the first round with enough room to grow to turn into something more than a limited 3-and-D prospect in the NBA.
However, unlike some other high school players who have reclassified for the draft, Primo’s lack of elite athleticism, and underwhelming averages may not give him the same upside that other 18-year-old first-round picks have flashed upon entering the NBA.
Despite his sturdier frame, Primo will need a few years of development after the draft before he can be a regular contributor on a good NBA team.
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