The Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Virginia’s Devon Hall with the 53rd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Hall, who had a breakout season in his final year with the Cavaliers, is a great fit for any team and will add much needed depth to the Thunder.
Hall being drafted makes him the fourth UVA player in five years to hear their names called, joining Joe Harris (2014), Justin Anderson (2015), and reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon (2016). Mike Tobey and London Perrantes have also seen playing time in the NBA in the last two seasons. All five Cavaliers that have seen NBA action since 2014 played alongside Hall at some point during his time in Charlottesville.
Oklahoma City’s roster is currently in flux as superstar Paul George is entering unrestricted free agency and his future with the team is still unknown. A lot of off-season moves depend on what LeBron James does (you may have heard of him), so the makeup of the Thunder roster could undergo some big changes before the season rolls around.
As far as wings go, the Thunder could use a player like Devon. Hall’s biggest competition will likely be Andre Roberson, Corey Brewer, and Terrance Ferguson, and Alex Abrines. Roberson, who went down with an injury and only played 39 games last season, is a solid defender but shot just 22% from three and 32% from the line. Brewer has been in the league for 11 seasons and isn’t a strong shooting threat at 45% from the field and 28% from three. Abrines and Ferguson saw action in 75 and 61 games, respectively, but neither shot over 38% from three and had less than .5 rebounds per game)
The window is open for Hall to come in and make an impact early, and there are three ways that he is a great fit for Oklahoma City:
He’s a good shooter
Hall’s numbers improved each year with the Cavaliers, and steadily. Every facet of his game trended upwards, even as his utilization increased.
Devon Hall Shooting Percentages
This shown ability to work at his game was something that the Thunder took notice of. Said Vice President of Identification & Intelligence Will Dawkins:
“We feel like we know him really, really well. He’s a guy who improved his shooting every single year he was in college, in attempts and accuracy. He’s able to play on the ball and off the ball. We’re interested in seeing him just kind of get on the floor and fit in with our other wings.”
His shot is consistent and has good mechanics. According Brian Geisinger of ACCSports.com, Devon was one of the best last season in both catch-and-shoot situations (68.9 eFG%) and off of screens (69.6 eFG%). Hall moves well off-ball and is strong enough to rub through screens to get open.
He can defend
This may be a simple one, seeing as he played at Virginia, but Hall is an outstanding defender. He earned a spot on the 2017-18 All-ACC Defensive Team and had a legitimate argument over ACC Defensive Player of the Year if teammate Isaiah Wilkins didn’t earn the title.
At the combine, he measured at 6-6 with sneakers and has a wingspan of just under 6-9.
Neither are ground-breaking measurements, but he’s a smart defender who is consistently in the right position for making the play. In his time at Virginia, Hall defended players all the way from the 1 to the 4, working in the post his third year when Coach Bennett had to switch up the lineups. In the ACC, Hall frequently pulled the opponent’s best player and took defensive assignments like a personal challenge.
Virginia’s defense last season was the best in the country both in points allowed (54 per game) and Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (85.6) per KenPom. Hall was a huge reason for that success.
He’s a good role player
I don’t want to take away from Hall or his abilities, but there’s something to be said for a guy that knows his role and is good at it. As previously mentioned, he’s outstanding on defense and worked to improve his shot.
He’s also a guy that came into Virginia expecting playing time. Hall and London Perrantes entered Charlottesville at the same time. Perrantes saw playing time immediately, becoming a four year starter at the point guard position. Hall took a different route as he agreed to red shirt his first year, then slowly saw his minutes increase.
His first season of action, he played just 10.7 minutes per game. That jumped to 21.9 his second season, 27.4 his third, and 32.1 by his senior year.
Throughout it all, Hall accepted his role, excelled, and worked harder than anyone else. The Thunder can expect the same.
I’m not discounting his ability to be a star, but Devon Hall is the player that will work hard and succeed, no matter the request asked of him. His maturity and “basketball IQ” are extremely high and he is leaving UVA with both an undergraduate and master’s degree.
Virginia Associate Head Coach Jason Williford had nothing but high praise for Hall, saying his skills include:
“Two-way player. Can make shots. Can defend. Can guard multiple positions. And he’s a high-character guy. You won’t have any issues with that.”
Get excited, OKC Thunder fans. You got a great one.