UTAH JAZZ

Utah Jazz Draft Prospect: Kentucky G Reed Sheppard

May 3, 2024, 4:57 PM | Updated: May 8, 2024, 5:42 pm

Reed Sheppard #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats...

Reed Sheppard #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball in the second half against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Rupp Arena on February 10, 2024 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard is projected to be selected in the lottery of the 2024 NBA Draft where the Utah Jazz own a yet-to-be-determined top-ten pick.

The Jazz own three of the top 32 selections in the 2024 draft allowing them to add valuable pieces to their already young core.

Here’s how Sheppard would fit with the Jazz if he lands in Utah in late June.

Related: Utah Jazz 2024 NBA Draft Prospects

Utah Jazz Draft: Reed Sheppard – G – Kentucky

Stats:  12.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds: .536/.521/.831

Strengths: It is no hyperbole to say Sheppard enters the NBA draft as one of the best shooting prospects of all time.

The guard knocked down an unfathomable 52 percent of his 4.4 three-point attempts, and was elite as a spot-up shooter, in transition, or off the dribble.

But unlike some smaller shooters, Sheppard was also extremely reliable inside the arc shooting 55 percent on two-point field goal attempts during his lone season at Kentucky.

Despite his excellent shooting ability, the freshman maintained a disciplined shot profile rarely forcing bad looks out of rhythm within the offense.

Sheppard has a natural feel for floor spacing both as a shooter and a passer, easily finding gaps off the ball to shoot from, or picking apart opposing defenses with quick, accurate passes.

The guard also recognized how to break traps and double teams backing out at the point of attack to bring an extra defender near halfcourt, then creating an offensive advantage by passing over the top of the defense.

While Sheppard’s shooting might be the most elite skill by any one player in the draft, his outlet passing is also noteworthy.

Unlike many young guards who are prone to overdribbling to find their rhythm, Sheppard aggressively pushes the ball up the court with long passes to catch lazy defenders out of position.

With a better than 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, Sheppard has a chance to be a connective tissue player both on and off the ball at the NBA level.

Defensively, Sheppard again uses his stellar understanding of basketball spacing to jump passing lanes or cut off angles for opposing offenses.

The guard has excellent hands to rip the dribble of primary ball handlers and collect steals under the basket when bigs bring the ball down below their chest.

The son of two Kentucky basketball players, Sheppard has an elite feel for the game.

Weaknesses: Sheppard’s weaknesses are almost entirely based on his athletic profile.

The guard is reportedly 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds which isn’t too small to play in the NBA, but doesn’t fit the model of bigger guards.

Though Sheppard isn’t unathletic, he lacks both elite quickness and leaping ability, forcing him to rely on craft more than his physical tools to succeed on the floor.

There are some questions about whether Sheppard is better suited to play on or off the ball, though Kentucky guards have generally shown more playmaking ability in the NBA than they did under John Calipari in college.

Sheppard isn’t a negative defender and brings significant value on that end with his terrific steals numbers, but his team defense is superior to his on-ball defense at this point in his career.

Would Reed Sheppard Fit With Jazz In Draft?

Sheppard’s elite shotmaking and complimentary (at worst) ball handling make him a relatively safe bet to stick in the NBA, though he may lack some of the overall upside of other players in the draft due to his athletic profile.

Between Isaiah Joe, Cason Wallace, Grayson Allen, Mike Conley, and JJ Redick, there are several pathways for Sheppard to develop into an impactful NBA player.

However, his size may make for a difficult pairing alongside Collin Sexton and Keyonte George in the Jazz’s current backcourt, and those physical limitations could see him suffer a similar fate in the NBA as former second-round pick Jared Butler.

Overall, Sheppard’s floor spacing, two-way skillset, and superb ball movement would make him an ideal fit under Jazz head coach Will Hardy.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Utah Jazz Draft Prospect: Kentucky G Reed Sheppard