Articles | NBA Draft

Robert Woodard is tremendous value at pick 40

Robert Woodard II projects to be a strong, defensive playmaker and is already emerging as a fan favorite.

When Sacramento came on the clock at pick 35, Robert Woodard II was the fourth-highest remaining prospect on my board behind Tyler Bey, Tre Jones, and Jahmi'us Ramsey - Ramsey would later be selected by the Kings at pick 43.

In a deep draft where talent was likely to be found well into the 30s and potentially 40s, there were an overwhelming amount of guards and Sacramento was in no position to select another after Tyrese Haliburton fell into their lap earlier that night.

Tyler Bey and Robert Woodard II were in a tier of their own when it came to the remaining players at 35 that I would qualify as wings.

Moving down five spots to 40 and selecting Woodard, while acquiring an additional asset from Memphis, was great business from Monte McNair and the entirety of the new front office.

Woodard stands at 6'8" with an engulfing 7'1" wingspan, while also possessing outlier strength, weighing in at roughly 230lbs in his sophomore season at Mississippi State. He's an absolute unit, who apparently is already the bench press team-leader at 20 years old.

The intrigue in the Mississippi State product revolves around his defensive versatility if he can properly utilizing his ideal build, a refreshing effort level, high awareness, and surprising lateral quickness.

In his sophomore campaign, Woodard was assigned with defending a wide range of future drafted peers from guards such as the 6'3" Immanuel Quickley or 6'5" Isaiah Joe, to the 6'8" Saddiq Bey. Woodard always seemed more than capable and up to the task.

Joe, who isn't exactly known for an overly explosive first step, struggled to beat Woodard off the dribble. The same could be said for Saddiq Bey, who simultaneously could not simply power through the grown man strength that the 43rd pick possesses.

Sam Vecenie, the NBA draft expert for The Athletic, had high praise for Woodard's lateral speed on the Game Theory Podcast.

The Columbus, Mississippi native was regularly tasked with containing the opponent's smaller guards. While chasing shooters through screens is an unideal use of his playmaking capabilities and understandably difficult at 6'8" and 230 pounds, it highlights his versatility and willingness.

It's probably unreasonable to expect the incoming rookie to stay in front of starting two-guards in the association, though.

I'd suspect him to defend as a small-forward initially, but don't be surprised to see minutes experimenting with Woodard at the power forward, or maybe even center. That is only within the realm of considerations because of the off-ball prowess and infamous strength that Woodard possesses.

There is never a moment where he is not surveying the floor, with his head is always on a swivel, waiting for the ideal moment to rotate and blow up a play. Everything from oh-so-needed rim protection and hard digs and recovers to drawing charges and basic rotations. He is a defensive playmaker, and Sacramento was in desperate need of one, or more (Haliburton), of those prototypes.

Ironically, this may also be his best offensive skill. Self-evident in the above clips, getting defensive stops - particularly steals - frequently commences fast-break opportunities.

Robert Woodard averaged 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks per game in his most recent season.

Steals will lead to an increased amount of transition opportunities for De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Marvin Bagley to work their magic in the open court.

This is why Kent Bazemore felt close to a savior when he was acquired mid-season and a prominent reason why Robert Woodard's presence could increase the pace.

In 2018-19, when Sacramento finished 5th in pace (103.1), they uncoincidentally were 7th in steals per game (8.3).

In 2019-20, the Kings were noticeably slower and it showed in the team finishing 21st in pace (98.9) and 15th in steals per game (7.7).

And when he has some room to load up, there is no lack of explosion or ferociousness. He'll even mean mug, flex, pump the crowd up, and express his fire, which I'm Sacramento fans will quickly cherish.

 

In Robert Woodard II's freshman season, he started a single of the 34 games he appeared in with a mediocre average of 17.5 minutes. He was a liability on the offensive end of the floor at times, and that was a clear emphasis throughout that offseason for Woodard.

After shooting 27.3 percent from range on limited attempts (12/44) in year one, Woodard revealed encouraging growth in year two when he shot 42.9 percent on an enlarged, yet still limited sample (30/70). Personally, I buy the shot and see a route to him possessing gravity that will be crucial in presenting the paint for two premier slashers in Fox and Bagley.

 

 

 

Woodard does not possess the handle to break anyone down off the dribble, but one or two dribbles attacking a closeout then pulling up or swinging it to the next man is enough.

It's not a quick release by any means, and there is not much of a sample of movement jumpers (anything is possible), so I wouldn't expect him to be a knockdown threat on offense, but he only needs to not be a negative and earn his money on the defensive end.

I had Robert Woodard II ranked 31st on my final big board. Sam Vecenie ranked Woodard 21st, Kevin O'Conner ranked him 20th.

Clearly, Sacramento is a fan of his potential as well. There are always contract negotiations to be had among second-round selections and Woodard just inked an atypical four-year contract.

It is on the longer side of deals (just by one year, really), showing a commitment and belief in him as a player. He will be making $1.5-million in his rookie season and seemingly be playing with the main club rather than Stockton.

I expect incoming rookies to have rough starts this season due to the shortened offseason, but I'd bet on him having a rotation spot by season's end and becoming a fan favorite rather quickly.

If all pans out well, Robert Woodard II may even be the ideal Marvin Bagley III frontcourt partner of the future.

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MaybeNextYear
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December 9, 2020 11:22 am

I’ll be pleased if one of Woodard/Jeffries works out as a rotational player. If both work out (a real possibility), I’ll be ecstatic.

RORDOG
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December 9, 2020 12:04 pm

A guy in NBA Twitter (Jared Dubin) has this site called NBAthlete that has a tool to measure athleticism called bSPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Quickness) based on combine results. Woodard had the highest bSPARQ for wings at the combine this offseason, and fell just outside of their bSPARQ HOF (>95 percentile for all NBA players at their position). The funny thing is that there are only 22 wings in the bSPARQ HoF. The Kings have 2 of them: Barnes and GRIII. So basically the Kings have 3 wings that are (or were in Barnes case) the best athletes at their position in the NBA.

Bill2455
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December 9, 2020 5:59 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

Interesting observation.

I do need some convincing that bSPARQ is a valuable statistic for evaluating talent.

NorCalKingsFan
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December 9, 2020 11:18 pm
Reply to  Bill2455

it specifically does not try to incorporate talent, it is a measure of athleticism

Bill2455
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December 10, 2020 12:52 pm
Reply to  NorCalKingsFan

So really irrelevant.

Greg
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December 10, 2020 1:39 pm
Reply to  Bill2455

Athleticism is often discussed as an intangible. The stats is using measurable data to provide a tangible metric. Just because a metric doesn’t tell you which player is a star or not doesn’t mean it’s an irrelevant metric.

Bill2455
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December 10, 2020 2:13 pm
Reply to  Greg

Seems it is not helpful is choosing who would be a great wing player. It may tell you who could best perform gymnastic tumbles.

andy_sims
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December 9, 2020 12:15 pm

Man, his instincts look outstanding, even when he was guarding the ball, and the dribbler decided to pin one way or the other, Woodard was waiting for him. His reaction when the ballhandler made a quick drop pass to move from his man to the recipient of the pass was instantaneous. His reflexes and quickness look to be at the top of the scale.

Add in that he’s put together like a brick wall? You’re right, Woodard can absolute earn his keep on the defensive end, and may be able to ramp up to handle NBA talent fairly quickly. If he can provide offense even in the 40s, percentile-wise, he’s a solid rotation guy at least.

Excellent analysis of what he has and where he can go, thank you!

Last edited 1 year ago by andy_sims
RikSmits
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December 9, 2020 12:19 pm

I love guys who bring it on D and who seem like smart team players.

Really interested to see how he does this season.

HaliComet
December 11, 2020 7:32 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Smart indeed. Woodard was a valedictorian and demonstrates a high basketball IQ.

furious.d
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December 9, 2020 12:23 pm

79 of 128 free throws is pretty distressing, since we know FT% is strangely a better predictor of NBA 3pt% than NCAA 3pt%.

Having said that, he obviously has the raw athleticism and work ethic you’d want to see from a guy who will be a long-term project on offense. Bazemore is a perfect example of someone who has worked himself into a functional NBA shooter even though his TS% as an underclassman was very rough.

Tunel_21
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December 9, 2020 12:34 pm

With his length and strength, I believe he can be a key contributor right away. His shot does seem slow and clunky at times, but the kid seems like a gym rat and I’m optimistic for improvement. Overall, I’m very high on him, but I’ve been hurt before.

MillersCornrows
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December 9, 2020 12:50 pm

Great article!

SactownSportsfan
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December 9, 2020 12:58 pm

It has been mentioned it before, but at the very least it is refreshing to see high motor, good character, energetic and smart guys brought to the team this offseason (Whiteside excluded). Of course those traits do not always translate to talent that can be applicable at this level, but it will be fun to watch Hali, Woodard, Ramsey and even guys like Jeffries and GR3 on the floor this year. Even if we suck, which is likely, it will be entertaining.

jlandweh
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December 9, 2020 12:59 pm

Really like this kid, and I think he provides good value/flier for a 2nd round pick. I doubt he gets many minutes this year but my fingers are crossed that he provides trade/injury insurance if Barnes (and his contract) get moved. I wouldn’t mind seeing this kid get 15 minutes off the bench.

Maybe him/Jeffries/or Justin James can develop into solid bench players as the season progresses. If any of those players does hit and develop, you have a nice young piece on a very team friendly deal.

Like his skill-set, motor, and think in transition-he could help this team on both sides of the court.

Kosta
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December 9, 2020 1:14 pm

I’m very excited to watch all three rookies this season!

Leotoch
December 9, 2020 1:21 pm

I’m so pumped for “Bobby Trees”

I really think he could end up being a huge steal because of all the things you highlighted here.

ForKingsandCountry
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December 9, 2020 2:06 pm

I think with he and Halliburton in particular, I am more excited about a Kings draft class than I have been in a really long time. Kevin O’Connor at the Ringer had written about Woodard in the lead up to the draft and I just remember thinking this kid seemed like a really good bet to at least be a valuable rotation player for 10 years in the league. I was shocked he dropped all the way to 40. When you factor in the contract we signed him to I think this could potentially end up looking like a steal in a couple years.

RORDOG
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December 9, 2020 2:32 pm

A lot of folks are saying I’m like the Robert Woodard II of TKH.

RORDOG
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December 9, 2020 8:03 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

comment image

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 9, 2020 3:46 pm

In watching those clips and other youtube film on this kid, I see a lot of Robert Covington to him. If he can hit from deep and bring it on the defensive end, the Kings got an absolute steal at #40 and a young kid locked up for 4 years. Fingers crossed.

MichaelMack
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December 9, 2020 3:58 pm

I love this pick as much as I love the Haliburton pick, and to have him locked up for four years is tremendous for us, and hopefully gives him the peace of mind and that he is with the right organization.

Off topic a bit, there is a tremendous article by Marcus Thompson II on The Athletic about the life and family of Kings Assistant Coach Rex Kalamian that is a worthwhile read:

https://theathletic.com/2154871/2020/12/09/kings-assistant-rex-kalamian-feels-pride-of-armenia-weight-of-war/

Kingsguru21
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December 9, 2020 6:11 pm
Reply to  MichaelMack

This is a great piece. It’s highly recommended.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kingsguru21
richie88
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December 9, 2020 10:58 pm
Reply to  MichaelMack

That’s a good article overall, but it oversimplifies the Nagorno-Karabakh situation.

TheGuyOnTheCouch
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December 9, 2020 4:06 pm

I’m excited to see him develop. I read that in High School he was a member of the National Junior Honor Society and was named Principal Student of the Year twice in a row.
He seems like a smart kid and a hard worker, thats a winning combo for me!

kings4ever
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December 9, 2020 7:03 pm

One advantage of this kid is he will be a switchable defender. I think he will be able to guard the three line with his mobility , play passing lanes with his length, and hold his own inside with his strength. That gives your defense versatility.

And why I like Woodward starting at 3, moving Barnes to 4, then you can pretty much switch everything 1-4 with Whiteside camped out in the middle.

Starting Woodward might be prudent bc he does not have to focus on scoring with our lethal backcourt, just be a glue guy, run lanes, defend and spot shoot off Fox penetration.

Otherwise, what are we looking at, a frontline of Barnes, Holmes and Bjelica?? Been there done that. Insta-fail. If you want to see Walton fired, root for a playback of the tried and terrible. If you want to compete respectfully, you better get strategically bold.

We could start Whiteside and Jabari as a defense-offense combo with Barnes again at the 3. Once again, this is uninspiring, frontline of guys slow footed AF. And you have non-passers across the board. Is this possibility dancing in the vacuous head of Walton? I hope not and I do not think so bc he did not sound too thrilled about Jabari.

Now if the idea of starting the 40th pick of the draft before he has ever played one preason game, well, I say, present me with a superior alternative. I don’t see it. We could throw Bagley out there but I like his instant offense off the bench and he’s been out of the lineup so long he needs to get his rhthym and confidence back first. We could go Bjelica-Holmes-Whiteside. Ugh.

Bjelica does what besides get hot every 1 out of every 4 games and get abused in pick and roll every time. This is a winning formula. When our starting lineup is Fox-Buddy-Woody-Barnes-Whiteside remember where you heard it first 😉

ArcoThunder
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December 10, 2020 11:46 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

One immediate thought:

I would tend to agree with getting Bagley comfortable to start. However, Around game 10, game 15, he needs to be in the starting lineup for the rest of the year. He needs to be getting 30 minutes a night. If he doesn’t that I’m not sure what we’re doing here then. The dude is about to enter his third season and we have no idea what he is. None.

He will succeed or he will fail to live up to the expectations of being part of the future core. The Kings owe it to themselves to put him in a good position to be successful and find out what they got. I really hope he is getting 30 + minutes. He’ll have some growing pains along the way I am sure but thats part of the deal. It’s go time.

rc50cal
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December 9, 2020 7:32 pm

If I squint hard enough I see a little Kawahi Leonard potential.

CarinaM707
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December 9, 2020 8:46 pm

Woulda loved to see him in summer league. Hopefully he earns some time soon. We could use a defender like him.

BeTheBall
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December 9, 2020 9:58 pm

While I was very pleased with the draft night haul, this was the one pick that really piqued my curiosity. I don’t follow college enough to get into the weeds on these 2nd and 3rd tier team rosters, but after the pick I ran across so many glowing scouting reports about him.

Really hoping he becomes a Manu, Dramond, Kover, Millsap type of value pick for us.

NorCalKingsFan
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December 9, 2020 11:25 pm

Don’t know what he’ll bring but I’m sure I’ll like it…he has a high BBIQ and hyper-awareness. Excited for him and DQJ

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