Peyton Watson mightily struggled as a freshman following his top 10 recruit status. As a freshman at UCLA, Watson averaged 3.3 PPG, 3 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG, and 1 TOPG on shooting splits of 32/23/69. Below is his full scouting report:
Name: Peyton Watson
Wingspan/ standing reach: 7’0 ½/8’11 ½
Hand size: 9 ½
Pre-Draft team: UCLA
- Ideal frame
- Good character
- High release on jumper
- Good defensive upside
- Can guard multiple positions
- Good rebounder
- Long closeouts
- Awkward shooting form with a weird overall aesthetic
- Mediocre athlete
- Really struggled to find a role at UCLA
- Highly unproductive; would have historically bad numbers for a drafted player
- Not really composed; panics against pressure
- Awkward ball-handler
- Averaged more turnovers than assists
I am fully aware of the negativity I have surrounded Peyton Watson with on Twitter and podcasts. I want to emphasize that it is just a strong take I have that is likely driven by high draft slots, met with confusion of why he continues to be mocked below players that have produced. I have Watson ranked #110 on my board. I don’t think Watson is a bad person, bad at basketball, etc; just the red flags around his game are strong red flags to me.
I hope my objective explanation gives clarity as to why I feel so strongly about him, and what a route to a best case scenario looks like, and why I feel confident in something like that being on the table:
Peyton Watson had a tough year at UCLA. While it was a bad situation for him, his production is undeniably dangerous to be drafted; it would be the worst of any player drafted in the 21st century. With an alarming level of panic against any kind of pressure, being quick to pick up his dribble, Watson has tons of offensive skills to improve on in the NBA, likely in the G League for the first couple of years. Watson’s offense is far away, and may never reach a playable outcome. Watson’s athleticism was something long said to be a major advantage to him with his size, but his athletic testing at the NBA Draft combine was poor, which should have hurt his stock more than it did. I firmly believe in the ‘if this player wasn’t a top recruit, how would I scout him?’ stance, which is why I have Watson so low. He struggled in the FIBA U19s and at UCLA, so I am not confident in him making the biggest jump from college to the NBA.
His saving grace will be his length+athleticism combination making him become a defensive specialist. He is impossible to remove from plays with long closeouts, and should be able to defend multiple positions at a high level.
Similar to: Poor man’s Cam Reddish, big Andre Roberson
Projected draft range: 35-undrafted
Expected role: Defensive-minded wing
Unplayable if: Lack of ability vs high level competition translates from college to NBA.
Exceeds expectations if: Defense translates, and he learns to play under more composure while fixing his jumper