Elijah Hughes plays one of the more coveted roles in the league today: a playmaking wing with a reliable jump shot and defensive ability. This year at Syracuse, Hughes averaged 19 PPG, 5 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.8 BPG, and 2.3 TOPG on shooting splits of 43/34/81. Below is his full scouting report:
Name: Elijah Hughes
Height/Weight: 6’6 ½ /229
Wingspan/ standing reach: 6’7 ½ / 8’5 ½
Hand size: 8 ¾
Tools: Shooting, athleticism
- Deep range on jump shot
- High level athlete
- Comfortable driving with either hand
- Good shooter off the dribble
- Good vision with NBA spacing
- Good rebounder
- Excellent finisher at the rim
- Mild frame
- Settles for bad shots too often
- Needs to add more advanced dribble moves
Elijah Hughes is a well-rounded combo-guard with versatility on both ends of the floor. Hughes has the ability to do any of the following offensively: initiate plays, spot up from anywhere inside the half-court line, cut to the basket, or take his man one-on-one to the basket and finish at a high rate.
At 6’6, Hughes can likely both play up and play down depending on the lineup. Offensively, he has an above-average first step that he uses to get to the rim and finish at an elite level (73% at the rim). This forced many defenses to collapse the middle in college, where there is no defensive 3 in the key. It was very rare that Hughes didn’t make the defense pay on the drive, whether it be by making them pay for not collapsing on his shot, or by passing to the open shooter after the defense has collapsed, making them pay for over-committing. Hughes is an excellent 1-on-1 player, and does a lot of his damage in isolation situations where he can play to any of his strengths: pull-up shooting, slashing, or playmaking. Hughes’ creation ability is a big reason why he has risen into my top 15 on my board.
Hughes, however, is more than just an on-ball threat offensively. Despite shooting just 34% from 3, he has a projectable jump shot with a clean base that gets him lots of lift, a strong, yet somewhat awkward, follow-through, and above all, he can shoot from anywhere on the floor. He can do any of the following off-ball: come around screens and release quickly, step into a 3, or spot up at a standstill, which is what he was best at. Hughes’ off-ball prowess combined with his on-ball skills makes him a dangerous weapon offensively.
Defensively, Hughes is hard to get a read on. I’ve admittedly gone back and watched games from his freshman year at East Carolina, where they ran man-to-man more than Syracuse, who is notoriously a strictly zone defense team. From both ECU and Syracuse, Hughes’ defensive upside is clearly high. As an above-average athlete with plus defensive instincts, I’m a firm believer in Hughes’ defense translating to the NBA.
NBA Comparison: Floor: Terrence Ross; ceiling: current Gordon Hayward/Tobias Harris
Projected draft range: 18-35
Fit with Mavs/best fits:
Dallas is likely Hughes’ best fit, given the similar play to what the Mavs got out of Tim Hardaway Jr for much of this last season. Hughes has better shot selection, although not a strength of his, and can be a better playmaker than Hardaway was this last season, combined with equal or better defensive upside.
Hughes is an easy fit for any team, due to a combined versatility of both size and skill-set. He can be a playmaker, a slasher, or run off-ball any given play, with equal level of danger. On top of that, he can also play a positive level of defense, which makes him easy to plug into any lineup.