Another player the Magic have expressed interest in with the 29th pick in the NBA draft is Quincy Pondexter, a 6’6 Small Forward from Washington. Pondexter is one of five players the Magic will be bringing in for a workout on June 22nd.
Pondexter averaged 19.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game as a senior while leading the Huskies to a Pac-10 tournament championship and to NCAA tournament victories over both Marquette and New Mexico before falling to West Virginia, who would go on to advance to the Final 4, in the Sweet 16.
Pondexter had an excellent 4-year career. He burst on to the scene his freshman season, dropping 10.7 points per game but suffered from the dreaded “sophomore slump,” the following year, seeing his average drop to 9.9 points per game and his shooting percentage fall from 49.8% to 45.2%. He had a bounce back year his junior season – he averaged 12.1 points per game on 51.1% shooting and saw his rebounding average increased from 4.0 to 4.8 to 5.9 per game over that three year span.
Then, he put it all together during his senior season. Besides averaging 19.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, he shot 52.8% from the field. Pondexter also shot 35.3% from beyond the arc but the sample size is small – he attempted just 51 three-pointers last season.
After the jump, we’ll take a closer look at Pondexter’s numbers*:
According to Draft Express, Pondexter was the third most efficient scorer and second best isolation scorer among Small Forwards.
Pondexter is turning the ball over just 12.7% of the time. For someone who has to work to create the majority of his shots for himself, that’s an impressive number.
Pondexter is also a very effective finisher and has the ability to get to the free throw line, where he shot 82.7% this season.
Being able to generate your own shot late in games is something the Magic wanted out of Vince Carter this season and against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, he wasn’t able to deliver. Now Pondexter is not nearly the type of talent Carter is but it’s good to see that Pondexter has been very effective in isolation situations – he is a very effective jump shooter.
It’s always interesting to see how players perform against the best competition and Pondexter did not disappoint. In an early season game against Georgetown, he dropped 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting. In three games against California, the Pac-10’s other NCAA tournament team, he averaged 20.3 points per game. He also dropped 31 in a game at Texas Tech and scored 18 points in each of the first two tournament games before having one of his worst performances of the season against West Virginia – he scored just 7 points on 3-of-9 shooting.
In that first round win against Marquette, Pondexter grabbed an offensive rebound with 34 seconds to go and wound up driving the ball to the hole and hitting a short bank shot with 1.7 seconds left. Despite being just 6-of-16 from the field at the point of his rebound, Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar had enough trust in his senior to let him make a play despite having a timeout in his pocket. The Huskies won 80-78.
As for the rest of his game, we’ll leave that to Draft Express:
Defensively, Pondexter has continued his great play all season, showing outstanding versatility in man-to-man defense, good fundamentals in the post and on the perimeter, while also showing very good rotational awareness, being a vocal leader for the Huskies’ defense. He’s not the biggest or strongest player you’ll find, as definitely projects as a small forward defensively in the NBA, having nearly ideal physical tools otherwise for that role, but also possessing the versatility to defend multiple positions, along with a high level of focus and effort.
Looking to the NBA, there are some concerns about how Pondexter might need to re-adjust to playing more off the ball, creating less of his own offense, and getting stronger and more reliable as a spot-up shooter, but he brings a variety of tools to the table and plays well on both ends of the floor, and should have little trouble finding a role. The learning curve and maturation he’s shown in his four years at Washington is also extremely encouraging, especially seeing how he just turned 22 years old this week. Pondexter should be firmly in first round discussions come draft time, and could even move up further if a team falls in love with him.
The Magic have to win now. They don’t have time to wait around for guys to develop. Pondexter has showed intelligence and good leadership skills. Combine those qualities with the trust his coach showed in him, the big leap he made in between his junior and senior seasons and his experience and we could have a rookie who could crack Orlando’s rotation rather quickly should he be the selection at 29.
*statistics provided by Ken Pomeroy (KenPom.com)