Draftexpress | ESPN | NBADraft | Stats | Wiki
Shooting Guard | 6’5 | 200 | UNLV
Projected: Late 1st round
Best Case: Brad Beal
Most Likely: Jodie Meeks
Worst Case: Rashad McCants
Who would’ve thought it – profiling two talented teenagers from UNLV back to back. Certainly an oddity from a program that has sent just one player to the NBA via the draft in the past decade. Much like team-mate Christian Wood, Rashad Vaughn (correct and only pronunciation – exactly how Sean Paul says Sean Paul) used his physical talents and shooting ability to dominate older, more experienced opposition.
As an 18 year old freshman, Vaughn put up 18 points a game with a USG% (shots, free throws and turnovers as a percentage of team totals) in excess of 30%. In the past five seasons, only two other big conference freshmen can match that type of volume. One was drafted 2nd overall last year and the other is set to be drafted in the top three this draft. Among this select company, Vaughn also largely keeps up from an efficiency standpoint, posting a 55 TS% compared to Jabari’s 56% and Russell’s 57%. Hopefully that serves to show what a tremendously talented scorer Vaughn is.
He has deficiencies in other areas that help explain why he’s a late 1st round prospect, rather than vying for a top 5 spot like the others mentioned above. His curtailed freshman season showed him to be a somewhat selfish player with poor shot selection, playing within a team that allowed that type of behaviour to go unchecked. Whether these habits would improve within a more structured NBA environment is an open question. Watching Vaughn play and considering his history as something of a high school legend, it feels like his mindset is well ingrained and that recalibration could take some time.
The reason his season was curtailed is another contributing factor to his standing as an NBA prospect. Vaughn tore the meniscus in his left knee in February and had previously torn the meniscus in his right knee. Once is unfortunate, twice is a trend. Multiple meniscal tears in a smooth travelling, sweet shooting two guard should send a shiver down the spine of any Blazers fan. Just like our franchise saviour, Vaughn is not reliant on his athleticism alone for his scoring prowess, however he is reliant on having two functional knees just like any other NBA player.
While his talent is clear, how he would fit on the Blazers is less so. Just as Christian Wood duplicated some of Meyers’ strengths, so does Vaughn match many of CJ’s. Both are long range bombers, good with their feet set and comfortable pulling up off the pick and roll. Both can be described as crafty finishers who rely more on their strength and guile than speed or leaping ability to get looks close to the rim. Vaughn has more prototypical size and better defensive tools but as an NBA baby he will bring with him the necessitous burden of patience. Vaughn’s potential is well worth the investment of a late first rounder, as I think he will eventually thrive as a natural scorer in the NBA (health permitting), but in the Blazers current state of limbo I’m not sure an 18 year old wunderkind in need of nurturing will be in the cards.