Unlocking Kylan Boswell: Film Review Against USC


Kylan Boswell needs to improve his shot-making and efficiency to improve his impact on a nightly basis. While this generic statement can apply to any prospect, it applies to Boswell especially because he has good scoring moves, but has struggled to turn those moves into tangible success and results. As a small guard, Boswell has a slimmer margin for error and will need to prove consistency in his shot-making. Additionally, Boswell generally stays away from the paint as a scorer, and lives through jump shots. This means that he will either have to be elite as a jump shooter (currently his jump shot ranks in the 81st percentile in terms of points per possession), or grow significantly as a finisher and slasher (currently ranks in the 27th percentile in terms of points per possession).

Taking the most recent game Boswell played, Wednesday against USC, highlights why his efficiency is such a major swing skill. In this game, Boswell had 11 points on 4-12 shooting with 3 assists, 1 steal, 0 rebounds, and 0 turnovers. While the traditional mistakes were limited, there are still elements of his game that he must improve in order to cleanly translate up into a spot in an NBA rotation at the most flooded position in basketball. Here’s a look at what he needs to improve on, and what plays he can take away as scores to hang his hat on:

The first three plays are out of the P&R, which is the most common play run in the NBA. While the first play is a fantastic defensive play by Kobe Johnson, Boswell needs to either be able to get this shot off more quickly, or use a fake as Oumar Ballo seals off the only other defender in the vicinity. 

In the second play, Boswell has space off the screen, but instead of stepping in to collapse the defense, he bails the defense out with a deep floater, which is often a low-percentage shot. At a minimum, Boswell getting one step further should have opened up a passing opportunity if he didn’t want to attack the rim. The lack of confidence in attacking the rim, combined with poor rim efficiency, remains his biggest red flag on the scouting report. 

The last of the three P&R plays, Boswell separates from his man on the P&R with a defender holding a contest while trying to defend the roll, a nearly impossible task. Because of Boswell’s decision to wait for the originally-screened defender to come back into the play, which was clearly the wrong decision because as the clock shrunk, the defense was easily able to collapse on him in the paint. Instead, Boswell could have taken a quick pull-up jumper out of the screen or passed to the open shooter in the right corner.

Moving away from the P&R, another example of not taking advantage of space pops up against Boswell. Instead of taking the deep pull-up 3, albeit an open shot all things considered, this is another example of how he could have kept the defender guessing and off-balance if he had used his momentum to drive towards the rim. Once again, he doesn’t need to shoot the ball as he gets downhill, but rather could find an open teammate. This consistent pattern is something NBA teams likely have as a major drawback against the 6’2 guard.

Going back to the original thesis, Boswell needs to be efficient in maximizing his open shots. While unrealistic to expect him to be perfect, in games he is struggling to score, he must make his open shots like the 4th play if he is not getting to the free throw line. Defenses close out hard against him given his deep range and reliable jump shot, and having counters and winning those counters will give him an extra edge to take another jump in terms of efficiency. While a nice setup, Boswell is too good of a shooter to miss this off the dribble shot following the fake.

The last two plays of this are positives: first with an elite stepback move, starting from the heart of the mid range, then getting his feet set and shooting past the closeout. While this may have been a travel, this same play likely also does not get called in the NBA. With Boswell’s quickness and shooting ability, plays like this off the dribble shouldn’t be uncommon. Lastly is one of Boswell’s three assists, where he uses his intelligence to manipulate the 2-on-1 in the wing & corner. The pass fake throws the defender off balance first, then as he tries to commit to Boswell’s shot, Caleb Love receives and makes the open 3.

Overall, some of the processes for Kylan Boswell’s jump shot are good, but he must become a more assertive ball-handler while being more willing to drive towards the rim, even if it is to set up other teammates. Additionally, with Boswell’s shooting ability he should learn to embrace contact to draw fouls. In most games this season, Boswell has not taken any free throws, which for him is leaving free points off the board as a shooter of his caliber. Even if he improves to one trip to the free throw line every game, his efficiency would noticeably improve. If his jump shot is off on a given night, he has minimal way to get into rhythm, which being out of rhythm is the worst thing a shooter can have. If Boswell can improve slashing assertiveness and better maximize the space defenses give him, he will take a jump and find a way to become a high quality scoring guard with secondary playmaking ability. At the moment, as a pure shooter with above-average playmaking and minimal rim pressure, his archetype is easily passed up by NBA teams, who will be quick to cut the leash on this type of player.