“Situational Analysis” is a series of articles that seeks to examine the circumstances that most often influence an NBA prospect’s success. Each player will be scored on a scale from 1-10 in four different categories: NBA-specific skill(s), fatal flaw(s), collegiate/overseas/pre-NBA environment, and ideal NBA ecosystem.
Tyrell Terry is a 20-year-old guard from Minneapolis who averaged 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game in his freshman season for the Stanford Cardinal. He is expected to be selected in the middle of the NBA Draft and as high as the back half of the lottery. NBADraft.net currently has him projected at No. 18.
Basketball analysis has grown exponentially in terms of its depth and complexity over the last handful of years. Everyone from the highest-ranking front-office executive to the most casual fan has a far deeper understanding of the nuances that create a winning atmosphere.
At its core, however, basketball remains a simple sport. Put the ball in a hoop – again and again. In those terms, Tyrell Terry is one of this draft’s best prospects at executing that essential action.
Terry slithers, jitters, and shakes his way to any spot he wants on the floor. He can expertly navigate his way around ball screens and score at or near the rim with either hand – layups, runners, floaters, you name it.
He does real damage from behind the arc, where he connected on nearly 41% of his 3s on just under 5 attempts per contest. He can fill it up on catch-and-shoot scenarios alongside another ball-dominant guard and he showed the ability to cash 3s off the dribble, especially going to his right.
If you search that YouTube mixtape realm for Tyrell Terry content, you will inevitably see comparisons to Steph Curry and Trae Young, because obviously, every thin, small-ish shooter has to be Steph or Trae. Terry’s game, however, is almost identical to CJ McCollum’s. Both Terry and McCollum can shoot the deep ball, but it’s their unique ability to play inside the creases of a halfcourt offense that make them so difficult to defend.
Much like McCollum, Terry’s basketball IQ is off the charts. One of the internet’s favorite Terry factoids is how he allegedly “broke a record” for hoops IQ tests.
That IQ helps the slight-of-frame Terry on the defensive end, as well, where he used his long arms and anticipation to jump passing lanes for one of college basketball’s best defensive quads.
On a scale from 1-10, Terry’s shooting and basketball IQ rate at a 9.5.
Terry is so small.
According to NBA.com, out of everyone who played at least 20 games in the 2019-2020 season, Tim Frazier is the lightest at 170 pounds. (Take these numbers with a grain of salt, of course, as JJ Barea tells NBA.com he is 5-10, 180, but still.)
ESPN.com and the Stanford media guide list Terry at a generous 160 pounds. To his credit, Terry has spent much of the pandemic slamming whey protein shakes and lifting weights, so he likely won’t come into the NBA as the lightest member of the Association, but he is still going to be at a serious physical disadvantage against the grown men who play his position.
What kind of resistance is Terry going to provide against, say, Russell Westbrook’s shoulders or Chris Paul’s, um, lower half? It’s like a feather trying to guard an elephant.
Many players inevitably add weight and strength as they age, and it’s a bit unfair to judge Terry’s body at 20, but scouts will be wondering whether his frame can conceivably carry extra bulk without losing any of the quickness that makes his game special.
If Terry gets timid attacking the rim against the Bam Adebayos of the world, it will make his herky-jerky off-the-bounce game a bit one dimensional and limit him to a behind-the-arc spot-up threat.
It’s also fair to wonder whether Terry can run the show as a full-time floor general, or if his value is maximized if he is playing alongside a more traditional point guard. Up to this point, there isn’t a ton of film on him as the unquestioned alpha give-me-the-ball-and-let-me-create-for-everyone type of guard.
There simply aren’t a ton of ideal backcourt companions for someone of Terry’s combination of skills and physical stature. If Terry’s backcourt mate is another 6-2/6-3 guard who dribbles a lot, that team will likely get smoked on defense. Terry’s skeptics see him topping out as a high-scoring sixth (maybe even seventh or eighth) man who spends high-leverage possessions in meaningful games on the bench when his squad needs a stop on defense.
On a scale from 1 (not a concern) to 10 (serious hindrance), Terry’s small frame rates at a 9.
All Terry did in high school was win.
At DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Terry captured three state titles in four years and played himself into the top 20-30 on most major recruiting services despite weighing 155 pounds soaking wet. A superstar in the classroom as well as the hardwood, Terry elected to attend Stanford University, where he earned All-Freshman honors on a solid Cardinal squad.
Even though his (and everyone else’s) college season ended prematurely, he has put in serious work over the last six months, reportedly took roughly 40 Zoom calls with NBA teams to address holes in his game. He has steadily risen on draft boards as teams have gotten a better idea about Terry’s personality and work ethic.
If Terry works this hard on his own during a global pandemic, imagine what he’s capable of once he joins an NBA roster.
On a scale from 1-10, Haliburton’s pre-NBA career rates at a 9.
Ideal NBA Ecosystem
Terry is one of the draft board’s fastest risers. He has a lot of new fans in NBA front offices, so it is hard to project where he might end up.
It’s entirely conceivable that a team trades into the late lottery if it feels like Terry won’t fall to the late teens or early 20s.
It would be really fun to see him end up at New Orleans at No. 13 – especially if the Pelicans hold onto Jrue Holiday, who would be an ideal mentor and backcourt mate for Terry. New Orleans could use some extra perimeter scoring juice around Zion Williamson with JJ Redick as an unrestricted free agent.
The Boston Celtics, picking at No. 14, could use some Kemba Walker insurance and another heady scorer to go with their young core. Danny Ainge isn’t shy about using assets to move around in the draft, so even if he doesn’t take him at 14, it’s entirely possible he would look to package 26 and 30 to move back into the top 20 for him.
The Philadelphia 76ers would be an ideal landing spot for Terry, but at No. 21, they might be picking a bit too low. However, new GM Daryl Morey has four second-round picks at his disposal for possible trade packages, and there is no way he enters next season without at least one player who can shoot 3s.
On a scale from 1-10, Terry’s need to find the right situation rests at an 8.5. Every team needs a high-IQ shooter, but there are a number of subpar basketball fits in the 10-20 range and a handful of other teams that make almost perfect sense as a match for Terry’s skills.