Daniel Skillings is an intriguing wing with potential to play off-ball with athletic tools that can help him throughout several facets of the game. He also has upside with the ball in his hands as a passer and creator. Skillings’ jumper must progress and improve on mechanical patterns that have been formed, leading to 25.7% from 3 on 74 attempts and 60.5% on 38 free throws as a freshman. His shot chart on the year doesn’t look strong, but keep in mind for young long term prospects that process is more important than results with this lens.
Breaking down the shot:
In terms of follow-through, and release point, Skillings’ shot looks mostly passable, or at least workable. Beginning with the upper/release portion of the shot, there are still several things to break down, including: release timing, speed of the shot, and the mechanics of releasing the ball itself.
First, Skillings’ off-hand becomes quickly noticeable with movement even after the release. The ball starts at a normal spot without much of a dip, and from there the motion looks mostly fluid. He uses his left hand to bring the ball up normally, but from there he doesn’t transition the power to his right hand cleanly. There have been examples of him releasing his guide hand at a normal time, but the release often changes and looks less controlled with an overall more awkward motion. In order to rework his jumper, it seems the guide hand will play a key part in him becoming a successful shooter. The motion can be seen on his free throw attempt, where the guide hand travels with the release the whole way, almost making his shot a two-hand shot:
This inconsistency becomes especially noticeable against tight contests, where his entire shot form changes and becomes out of control. It would take up close video or scouting, but it also appears Skillings may be ‘thumbing’ his shot as well. Two examples, one with a contest and one without, of him lacking control on his shot due to his guide hand needing work:
Additionally, Skillings’ elbow goes through several motions throughout the shot, going a bit hand-in-hand with his aforementioned lack of shot control. What starts as fluid with no dip, a very good foundation to work off of, turns quickly into needing an entire overhaul while keeping a level of comfort. After the catch, Skillings’ shot turns into a two-motion shot with a pause at the top of his release with a base that needs to be reconfigured following adding more strength.
The pause, seen clearly, albeit somewhat minor in the grand scheme of things:
Continuing with critiquing the base, he often will spread his legs out on jumpers, forcing too much weight to one side, often being forward. Two videos showcasing the wide base quite obviously on the release, something that can plague younger players:
He has a high release which works to his favor, but needs to stick to his form against closeouts instead of looking to adjust against hard contests. Speeding up his shot to reduce motions while maintaining power would be beneficial, and the process may start at refining his base to straighten out his left leg to be more congruent to his right leg, creating a more stable base overall.
These two still-images show the awkward distribution of weight in his base, with the second image showing an uncomfortable almost W shaped base. If you’re getting a little deja vu on the second photo, it’s because it is from a video already used in this post on the wide base. On the first one, the inward knee bends are worrisome, and with added lower body strength this could be overcome to have a more square release to the rim.
Off the dribble shooting was rough for Skillings this year, going 2-28 on the year on jump shots off the dribble. Luckily for Skillings, a lot of the processes are right (good creation moves including a patented spin move as well as a quick first step), but again the lack of a consistent base becomes even more apparent in off the dribble shooting. At times, it felt like he was aiming his shot, with many shots lightly going off the backboard and/or back rim, causing shots that looked controlled to turn south quickly.
Learning to control his shot even more, combined with improved mechanics would do wonders for him, given that he can create his own look well enough at this point. It should be noted that Skillings did have several unlucky bounces off the rim, often going in & out/down & out before missing. This is another area where there’s enough of a foundation to argue process over results
I still find myself as a believer in Skillings, though the process may take a longer given his overhaul in shooting, which will play into work ethic. He is likely to be a 2025/2026 prospect, but if he can improve his jump shot to create even average efficiency with improved free throw shooting, he will become more coveted on the wings. He did shoot well in the Under Armour circuit, but per Synergy shot 59.6% from the free throw line. The year-over-year improvement of free throw percentage is promising, and if he improves his form his touch may be able to be more on display, helping launch him to the 70+ percent range from the free throw line.
Away from shooting, Skillings has a lot of valuable abilities offensively. He follows his misses well, leading to him rebounding well, and he also sees the floor well on the move, even if he needs to improve turnovers with a 2:3 assist:turnover ratio.
As a passer, Skillings has good eye deception, leaving defenders confused on where to guard his teammates off-ball when they come to help on Skillings’ dribbles. The ability to pass on the move in transition makes him a weapon as well. This area can still be refined, which is why I expect his assist to turnover ratio to improve as a sophomore. Two examples of the eye deception in passing:
At ~ 6 ‘6, these tools are valuable on the wings to have for when his shot isn’t falling. Again, Skillings is a long-term project and with hard work he could find himself moving down the Kobe Brown or Herb Jones route, where Kobe and Herb improved vastly as shooters at the end of their collegiate careers, and turned that into top 35 picks. How Skillings improves his jump shooting while adding strength will be a situation to monitor, putting Skillings on the long term radar for scouts and NBA teams.