Mustapha Heron was a top 20 recruit out of high school in 2016, being one of Auburn’s biggest gets in years. Heron transferred in 2018 to St John’s to be closer to his family, and was immediately eligible. I watched Heron in college for 4 years rather closely, and had watched a bit of his film in high school. While his game never popped like the rankings had suggested, Heron still plays a valuable role that simply fits in the modern NBA. In his senior season, he battled an ankle injury that held him to just 25 minutes per game in 21 games. In those 21 games, heron averaged 13.8 PPG, 1.6 APG, 2.4 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG, and 1.6 TOPG on shooting splits of 38.5/38.5/83. For his for year average, his career averages were: 15 PPG, 5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1 SPG, and 2.1 TOPG on 43/38/79, which is likely more in-line with who he is. Below is Mustapha Heron’s full scouting report:
Name: Mustapha Heron
Height/Weight: 6’5/ 210
Wingspan / standing reach: N/A
Hand size: N/A
College/ country: St John’s
Tools: Defense, IQ, shooting
- Very vocal defender – always pointing to teammates where to be and where to go. Team first player
- Good vision and rarely makes mistakes
- Good rebounder for his position
- Good spot up shooter
- High motor
- Quick first step
- Good defensive IQ
- Excellent in transition
- Shot still a work in progress – good follow through, but poor base; misses open 3s he should be making; needs to improve consistency in shot mechanics
- Must improve scoring off the dribble
- Struggles to beat defenders one-on-one
- Lacks explosiveness towards the rim
- Poor finisher at the rim
Overall: Mustapha Heron is a lefty wing that can smoothly switch between playing both the 2 and 3. Heron has the defensive decision-making and defensive tools to become a positive defender from day one. Heron has the profile to become a 3&D wing in limited minutes. He is very intelligent on the defensive end and communicates well to help be one of the best team defenders in this draft. Athletically, Heron has a quick first step and moves well on the defensive end, but he is not a high riser and struggles to finish above defenders. His limited athleticism heavily impacts his finishing ability at the rim, where he shot 46% this season. Before transferring from Auburn, he finished very well at the rim, but at St John’s he never shot above 60% at the rim, which is generally around average for a wing.
In order to safely become a 3&D wing in the NBA, he must improve his base and be a steady shooter on spot ups. Heron doesn’t often shoot moving threes, which may also limit him in the NBA. Luckily for Heron, almost all of his shot attempts will be standstill jump shots feeding off of the drive-and-kick or similar plays.
NBA Comparison: Floor: Chris Johnson; ceiling: Shandon Anderson
Projected draft range: Undrafted
Best fit/ fit with Dallas:
Dallas would be a welcoming home for Mustapha Heron, however he is unlikely to crack an opening day roster on more than a 2-way contract in 2020. Heron likely needs a year in the G-League to further refine his game, adjust to the NBA tempo, and boost his stock to earn a full NBA contract. If Heron were to latch on with Dallas, the timeline would likely look like this:
Heron signs a 2-way contract and spends a heavy majority of the year with the Legends, where he improves his stock to earn a final roster spot at the start of the 2021-22 season, where he can play a similar role to that of Courtney Lee this year with Dallas.
Ideally, Heron’s best fit would be with a young team that needs a glue guy, which is essentially someone that makes the other parts of the team stick together. Heron’s team defense and 3&D profile while being a good rebounder and having a high grade of intangibles make him a good fit for virtually anyone, in theory. Some teams that come to mind in logically taking a chance on him due to roster needs and archetypes next to their current core are: Minnesota, Portland, Washington, and Sacramento. Each of these teams have a core in place with all star caliber upside players or current all stars, but are stuck near mediocrity. While Heron won’t be the piece to move a team out of mediocrity, he is worth a flier to be an all-around positive mistake-free player off the bench.