Kyle Guy first came to Charlottesville as a McDonald’s All-American, man bun and all, and left town as a National Champion. While he joined the team with fellow superheroes Ty Jerome and DeAndre Hunter, it was always Guy who seemed to be the face of the program, and his run as the 2019 Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player solidified his status as a Virginia legend.
However, when compared to Hunter and Jerome, it’s Guy that has the most question marks and potential weaknesses when looking at his prospects as a professional player. In his three years at Virginia, he dealt with his fare share of skepticism and handled some sort of major adversity to end 2018. Will he shake off doubters yet again by succeeding in the NBA? A lot may depend on if he lands in the right spot.
Guy’s obvious strength is his sharpshooting from three as he converted 42.5% of his 3pt shots over his collegiate career. He flies off of screens, squares himself perfectly, and excels at doing such even with awkward initial positioning. You might remember this example of his quick adjustment in the face of tight defense:
Of course, he’s also tremendous at getting himself open for a shot and knocking down less-difficult options afterwards:
A quick shooting release combined with those skills all add up to a potentially deadly high volume three point shooter, something plenty of NBA teams could benefit from. He’s a decent scorer off the dribble as well, meaning his shot won’t need to come immediately off a screen. Additionally, he’s shown the right combination of timing and quickness to create enough space for his own shot. While the NBA will present a tougher defensive challenge, Kyle’s shown he doesn’t need much space to convert a shot, and his herky-jerky movement around screens and capably tight handle with the ball should continue to give him that inch.
Guy’s also a capable and intelligent ball-handler. He’s never going to have the quickness or ability to play the 1 in the NBA, but teams should be able to trust him with possession; in college he averaged only 1.1 turnovers per game with a TOV% of 9.1.
Of course, another strength for guy is playing defense under Tony Bennett. As we’ve seen with recent Virginia grads in the league, playing under Bennett’s championship-winning coaching translates well for a player’s ability to learn and excel in pro schemes.
Finally, the dude’s just a winner. I know it’s a cliche, but you can’t talk about Kyle freakin’ Guy and not mention it. He’s won awards all over his high school and collegiate career, ACC championships, and a Final Four Most Outstanding Player award. He endured one of the more painful losses in the history of the sport only to come back and win his school’s first ever national title. As part of that run, of course, he displayed the HUGEST of...guts...in sealing the semi-final with three clutch free throws:
The clear issue for Guy’s chances in the NBA is his size compared to the usual shooting guards in the league. The average SG is 6’4.2” without shoes and has a 6’8” wingspan while guy’s Combine measurements in such were 6’0.75” and 6’4.5”. How’s his defense going to translate against pro players? Often in the NCAA Championship run, Guy was guarding the opponent’s best shooter — and certainly he’s a more-than-capable defender — but there are legitimate concerns about the jump in size in athleticism he’ll be facing now.
The answer could be to have Guy transition into more of a point guard with an elite 3-point shot, but he’ll need to show a ton of improvement as an initiator of an offense if so. Not to mention a switch to PG wouldn’t alleviate the usual mismatch in athleticism he’ll be facing. Additionally, he’ll need to continue to improve his two point shooting, though it has gone up from 38.2% in his first year to 49.1% this past season.
One player’s name thrown around for a Guy comparison is Patty Mills, and this seems appropriate. Mills is undersized at 6’0 and over his eight seasons with the Spurs (after two in Portland) he’s developed into a 39.3% 3pt, 1.0 TOV, shooting point guard (usually off the bench).
You could also look to Orlando’s DJ Augustin - another 6’0 guard with a big time 3-point stroke. Augustin started every game for the Magic this year, though he’s usually served as the second option at the point guard position over his 11 years in the league, all while shooting a career 3pt clip of 38.1% (and 42.1% this past season).
Another 6’0 NBA veteran who’s made a career as a strong-shooting undersized point guard is Indiana’s Darren Collison. He’s been the primary point guard option for teams for about half of his pro seasons and still only shoots 2.3 threes a game, but at a 39.4% rate. Of course, Collison averages five assists a game and Augustin chips in four a game, so Guy’s role in a offense will need to adjust into such a role; he averaged just 1.6 assists a game while at UVa.
Potential Landing Spots
Really any NBA team could find a roster spot for some three point shooting spark, but some good fits include the following:
Devin Booker dominates the scoring for the Suns (and for good reason), but three point shooting is not a huge strength for him. T.J Warren, a forward, is their best shooter from deep and Tyler Johnson is often Booker’s back court mate but also only shoots 32% from three. Guy could certainly supplant either Elie Okobo or De’Anthony Melton in the Sun’s depth chart at point guard.
The door seems wide open for a PG behind Ricky Rubio in Utah, that is of course if the Jazz resign Rubio. Naz-Mitrou Long and Raul Neto are both potential PG free agent losses as well, leaving only injury-prone Dante Exum on the roster. Either or all of those players could be gone this offseason, so the roster opportunity is certainly there for Guy.
C’mon. Of course Guy should go to Tony Bennett’s team. All-Star PG Kemba Walker could be lost in free agency this summer, though many think he’ll resign with Charlotte (and Walker has said openly that he’d like to do so). Regardless, Tony Parker has retired and Devonte’ Graham shot the three at 28% this season. Woof. The Hornets find a spot for Guy for sure.