Fighting for a Spot: Yogi Ferrell

If you’re a 6-foot tall point guard, opportunities for success in the NBA are limited. Most NBA executives think using a high draft pick on a player of short stature is a losing proposition. Honestly, the fact that Isaiah Thomas was the 60th overall pick in his own draft says it all.

Yogi Ferrell is another 6-foot prospect trying to carve out a successful NBA career. He did very well at the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 8.8 points, 1.8 assists and 1.5 rebounds in four games with the Brooklyn Nets. His displays earned him an invitation to the preseason camp and a partially guaranteed one-year deal with the team.

Prior to joining the University of Indiana, Ferrell was considered one of the best young point guards in the country. After acclimating himself to college basketball during his freshman year, Ferrell quickly became the team’s leader. In his junior year, he improved his scoring averages by almost ten points, jumping from 7.6 to 17.3 PPG. In addition to his scoring prowess, he started paying more attention to creating for his teammates. By the end of his senior year, he broke the Hoosiers’ record for all-time assists. He made the first All-Big Ten team on two occasions – in 2015 and 2016 – and was named one of the finalists for the Point Guard of the Year award. Despite his collegiate success, he went undrafted at the 2016 draft.

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Like most smaller guards, Ferrell is a speed demon who can run the floor all day. He’s very good at finding open teammates, especially out of pick-and-roll sets. He doesn’t lose the ball very often, and his assist to turnover ratio is solid. He’s an excellent outside shooter, converting a fantastic 44.7% of his three-pointers in his senior season. He’s an elite athlete for his size, proficient at using his quickness to stay one step ahead of opposing defenders.

Not surprisingly, Ferrell’s stature puts him at a big disadvantage on the defensive end. Most opponents are able to shoot over him or post him up with ease. While this is understandable, the lack of effort he shows on most possessions is not helping his case. As it stands right now, he’s a huge net minus on defense, and his offensive game isn’t good enough to make up for it. He’s a bit overconfident in his shooting prowess, which leads to lackluster shot selection. Though he has improved in this regard, he still takes too many long twos and shots off the dribble. Most of these bad shots stern from his unwillingness to drive to the rim.

With Jeremy Lin, Greivis Vasquez and Isaiah Whitehead at the point guard position, Ferrell will have to be very impressive at preseason camp to make the final 15-man squad. He’s definitely not without chances, though. Out of the four of them, Ferrell is the closest thing to a floor general. If Atkinson wants a traditional point guard on the roster, he’s liable to take a long look at Ferrell. Provided he stops slacking off on defense, Ferrell’s court vision and shooting ability could prove enough for a spot on the final roster.

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