For the third and final chapter of my rookie scouting report series, we will take a detailed look at Blake Wesley on both sides of the ball. The spindly swingman is the oldest and least polished out of San Antonio’s first-round selections, but at just 19-years-old, he has all the tools to become a two-way stud for the Silver and Black.
The Notre Dame shooting guard flashed fascinating scoring, playmaking, and defensive potential during his lone season of college hoops, earning a reputation as one of the most promising project players in the 2022 NBA Draft. While Wesley has a long way to go before reaching his ceiling, the Spurs have a proven developmental track record.
Blake Wesley | Notre Dame | Freshman | Guard |
Height: 6’ 5’’
Weight: 185 lbs
Wingspan: 6’ 9’’
Stats (35 GP)
Per Game: 14.4 PPG/3.7 RPG/2.4 APG/1.3 SPG/0.1 BPG
Per 36: 17.7 PPG/4.5 RPG/2.9 APG/1.6 SPG/0.1 BPG
Shooting Splits: .404 FG%/.303 3P%/.657 FT%
- Wesley is smooth in transition. He ranked in the 77th percentile and shot 38-of-56 (67.9%) out of this play type. He can handle the ball in the open court, go coast-to-coast to finish at the rim, and pull up for a midrange jumper against an unset defense. His speed stands out on fast breaks.
- Smooth pull-up midrange jumper, stops on a dime when he plants his feet and elevates over the top of defenders. He is balanced throughout the motion and made some ridiculously tough shots with a hand in his face. He liked using the left-to-right crossover to generate space and rhythm, and he is at his best going to the right.
- He can pull up off the bounce from beyond the arc. He is especially dangerous when mismatched against a big since they have to respect his blinding first step and ability to get to the rim. Unfortunately, the percentages are not there yet. His shot begins to break down as he moves further away from the basket.
- He had intriguing flashes of self-creation as an isolation and pick-and-roll scorer despite ranking in the 62nd and 42nd percentile on those play types, respectively. But Wesley showed creativity on turnaround jumpers, put together challenging dribble combinations, changed pace in traffic, blew by bigs on switches, walked smaller guards into the post with his back to the basket, and trapped guys on his back or hip. A shifty player with room to grow.
- He self-created 64% of his field goals as a freshman at Notre Dame this season. However, the most impressive thing was how he generated 73.2% of his field goals at the rim. He consistently bent defenses with his elite first step by getting into the paint and attacking the basket at will. This attribute is fascinating despite his incredibly poor percentages near the hoop.
- There is a lot to love about his upside as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. He gets downhill quickly off high ball screens and breezes past drop coverage bigs after freezing them with a hesitation dribble. He found open shooters when help defenders rotate, hit the roll man over the top, and made some impressive skip passes. The pieces are in place, but he still needs considerable polishing.
- Wesley was one of the worst finishers in the nation despite routinely getting deep into the paint. He shot 55-of-133 (41.4%) at the rim in the half-court, struggled with his left hand, and didn’t show much touch on floaters. Wesley displayed some craft with pump fakes to get guys in the air near the hoop but missed too many wide-open layups. He had a lot of clangers off the glass because he got too sped up, and adding muscle is a must if he wants to convert through contact and avoid getting knocked off his driving lanes.
- He can attack the basket off the catch with quick rip-throughs when defenders close out too aggressively, and he has the burst to maintain the initial separation and get to the rim. Wesley should only become more dangerous as he improves as a shooter when teams have to respect him beyond the arc.
- He may have some shooting potential even if the percentages were not promising. Wesley has great shot prep and a quick release, plus he is a willing shooter (5.1 3PA). He went 34-of-104 (32.7%) on spot-up threes and shot 15-of-40 (37.5%) on wide-open catch-and-shoot threes. He was at his best with time to get into his rhythmic dip and hop into his shot.
- There is some cause for concern about his shooting touch. Wesley went 65.7% from the free-throw line, 30.3% from three, and 33.3% on floaters, which are not positive indicators. He needs to get more square with the basket and eliminate the wasted circular motion on his jumper. The shot might eventually come around working with an NBA coaching staff, and the confidence despite poor percentages is encouraging.
- Wesley is streaky as a shooter. He had five games where he made more than three triples on better than 50% shooting. Wesley also had ten games with zero threes, including five of his last six games of the season. There were drastic peaks and valleys, and he needs to develop more consistency.
- He reads the floor well and keeps his head up to survey the court with the ball in his hands. Wesley hits open teammates from a man away when he senses defenders over-helping, can execute accurate live-dribble passes with either hand and shows patience when playing off two feet inside the paint. He even pulled off a few impressive hammer passes down the baseline. His upside as a passer is evident, but his decision-making needs to improve.
- Wesley possesses the foot speed to slide with smaller players and beat them to their spots. He swallows drives by absorbing contact with his chest and forces guards to kick the ball back out or settle for long jumpers. He can also get a hand on the ball or bother shots because of his length and practice of verticality. The tools are there for him to become a high-level perimeter defender.
- He will probably defend 1-2 man-to-man in the NBA, but he does not have a ton of switchability because of his size and frame. With that said, I was impressed at how willingly he embraced taking on the challenge of defending the best opposing perimeter player almost every night. His high motor makes me more willing to buy into improvements.
- Despite some good traits, Wesley needs to work on staying in a defensive stance. He plays too upright on the perimeter more often than you would like and leaves himself susceptible to getting beat off the dribble. He picked up a handful of avoidable blocking fouls because his feet were moving while he stood straight up.
- Wesley needs to work on being more disciplined as a pick-and-roll defender. He too often settled for reaching from behind to try and poke the ball away instead of fighting to recover back into the play to contest the shot. He also went under screens against proven shooters more often than he should, and he will get burned for that in the NBA.
- He is adept at picking off post-entry passes, can dislodge balls digging from a man away, and has excellent anticipation in the passing lanes. He can also use his long arms to blow up dribble handoffs. Wesley came up with 1.3 steals per game and frequently turned defense into offense.
- He does a so-so job at getting skinny and navigating screens away from the ball to chase shooters around the court. Wesley also has a solid grasp of lock-and-trail technique, and he does not give shooters much space to come off those screens cleanly. He works hard to deny the ball and contests shots well. These flashes are not consistent production yet, which is the case for most of his game.
- While he had good moments navigating screens on and off the ball, he tended to give minimal effort when caught on screens. He needs to add muscle and improve his effort when running into sturdy screeners.
- Got caught over-helping away from his assignment or gambling for screens a little too often, and gave up quite a few open threes because of this tendency, something that can improve as he refines his game, not a huge red flag.
All statistics are courtesy of Basketball Reference, Synergy Sports, and BartTorvik.