August 13, 2022

For the third and final chapter in my rookie scouting report series, we’ll take an in-depth look at Blake Wesley on both sides of the ball. The spindly swingman is the oldest and least polished of San Antonio’s first-round picks, but at just 19, he has all the tools to become a two-way stallion for silver and black.

The Notre Dame shooting guard showed compelling scoring, play and defensive potential in his lone college hoops season, earning a reputation as one of the most promising draft players in the NBA Draft 2022. While Wesley has a long way to go before he hits his cap, Spurs have a proven development record.

Blake Wesley | our Lady | Freshman | Guard |

Measurements

Height: 6′ 5”

Weight: 185 pounds

Wingspan: 6′ 9”

Date of birth: 03/16/2003

Statistics (35 GP)

Per game: 14.4 PPG/3.7 RPG/2.4 APG/1.3 SPG/0.1 BPG

Par 36: 17.7 PPG/4.5 RPG/2.9 APG/1.6 SPG/0.1 BPG

Shot divisions: .404 FG%/.303 3P%/.657 FT%

Offense

  • Wesley is smooth in the transition. He ranked in the 77th percentile and shot 38 of 56 (67.9%) on this type of play. He can handle the ball on the open court, go coast to coast to finish on the edge and shoot up for a midrange jumper against a questionable defense. His speed stands out on fast breaks.
  • Smooth pull mid-range jumper, stops instantly when planting his feet and rising above defenders. He’s balanced throughout the move and made ridiculously hard punches with a hand to his face. He liked to use left-to-right crossover to generate space and rhythm, and he’s at his best going to the right.
  • It can remove the rebound from beyond the arc. He’s especially dangerous when off-suit against a big one because they have to respect his first step and his ability to reach the rim. Unfortunately, the percentages are not there yet. His shot starts to shatter as he drives away from the basket.
  • He had intriguing flashes of self-creation as an isolation and pick-and-roll scorer despite ranking in the 62nd and 42nd percentiles on those play types, respectively. But Wesley got creative on turnaround jumpers, put together tough dribbling combinations, changed his pace in traffic, blew through bigs on switches, got smaller guards into the post with his back to the basket and has trapped guys on his back or his hip. A sneaky player with room to grow.
  • He self-created 64% of his freshman field goals at Notre Dame this season. However, the most impressive thing was how he generated 73.2% of his field goals from the rim. He constantly put pressure on the defense by going to the basket. This attribute is fascinating despite its incredibly low percentages near the hoop.
  • There’s a lot to like about his upside as a pick-and-roll ball handler. He quickly descends high ball screens and drives past big covers after freezing them with a hesitant dribble. He found open shooters when defenders helped spin, hit the roll man over the top and made some impressive passes. The parts are in place, but it still needs considerable polishing.
  • Wesley was one of the worst finishers in the country, despite his habit of diving deep into the paint. He shot 55 of 133 (41.4%) at the edge of half court, struggled with his left hand, and didn’t show much floater contact. Wesley showed off gear with pump scythes to get the guys flying near the hoop, but missed too many wide-opening layups. He had a lot of noise on the glass because he accelerated too much, and adding muscle is a must if he wants to convert on contact.
  • He can attack the basket off the catch with quick tears when defenders close in too aggressively, and he has the flurry to maintain the initial separation and get to the edge. Wesley should only become more dangerous as he improves as a shooter when teams have to respect him from beyond the arc.
  • He may have some shooting potential even if the percentages weren’t promising. Wesley has excellent shot preparation and a quick release, plus he’s a willing shooter (5.1 3AP). He went 34 of 104 (32.7%) on three spot-ups and shot 15 of 40 (37.5%) on three wide-open catch-and-shoots. He was at his best with time to get into his rhythmic dive and jump into his shot.
  • There is cause for concern about his shooting touch. Wesley went 65.7% from the free throw line, 30.3% from three and 33.3% on the floats, which are not positive indicators. He needs to be more square with the basket and eliminate the unnecessary circular movement of his jumper. The hit could possibly come working with an NBA coaching staff, and the confidence despite low percentages is encouraging.
  • Wesley is streaked as a shooter. He played in five games where he hit more than three triples with over 50% shooting. Wesley has also played ten games with zero threes, including five of his final six games of the season. There have been drastic ups and downs, and he needs to develop more consistency.
  • He reads the ground well and keeps his head up to survey the pitch with the ball in his hands. Wesley hits teammates open from a man from distance when he feels defenders are helping too much, can execute accurate live dribble passes with both hands and is patient when playing two-footed inside paint. He even had some impressive hammer passes from the baseline. His advantage as a passer is obvious, but his decision-making needs to improve.

Defense

  • Wesley has the foot speed to glide with smaller players and beat them for them. He swallows drives as he absorbs contact with his chest and forces guards to return the ball or settle for long jumpers. He can also get his hands on the ball or hinder shots because of his length and his practice of verticality. The tools are there for him to become a top perimeter defender.
  • He’ll probably defend 1-2 man-on-man in the NBA, but he doesn’t have a ton of switchability due to his size and frame. That said, I was impressed with how willingly he took on the challenge of defending the opposition’s best perimeter player almost every night. Its high engine makes me more willing to buy upgrades.
  • Despite some good traits, Wesley has to work to stay in a defensive position. He plays too straight on the perimeter more often than you would like and leaves himself susceptible to being beaten by the dribble. He picked up a handful of avoidable blocking fouls because his feet moved while he was standing straight.
  • Wesley needs to work on being more disciplined as a pick-and-roll defender. Too often he just reached out from behind to try and push the ball away instead of fighting to recover in play to contest the shot. He’s also gone under screens against proven shooters more times than he should, and he’ll be burned for it in the NBA.
  • He is adept at pulling back passes after entry, can dislodge digging balls from a man and has excellent anticipation in the passing lanes. He can also use his long arms to blast dribble transfers. Wesley had 1.3 steals per game and often turned defense into offense.
  • He does an average job of getting lean and navigating screens away from the ball to chase shooters around the pitch. Wesley also has a solid command of lock-and-follow technique, and he doesn’t leave much room for shooters to get cleanly out of those screens. He works hard to deny the ball and contests shots well. These flashes are not yet in constant production, which is the case for most of his game.
  • Although he had a good time navigating on and off the ball, he tended to put in minimal effort when caught on screens. He needs to add muscle and improve his effort when he comes up against heavy screens.
  • I’ve been caught helping away from its mission too much or playing for screens a little too often, and I’ve given up quite a few open threes because of this tendency, something that may improve as I go along. that he is refining his game, not a huge red flag.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference, Synergy Sports and BartTorvik.