Babcock Hoops’ manager of video scouting Derek Murray breaks down 2020 NBA Draft prospect Cassius Stanley from the Duke Blue Devils.
Position: SG/SF | Height: 6’6” | Weight: 193 | Team: Duke | Class: Freshman
Intensity + Motor
Passing + Assists
Stanley is a phenomenal athlete, arguably the best in the entire class, with a reported 46.5" vertical when arriving on campus last year. It seems that every week during the season he provided at least one highlight-reel dunk or rebound. He’s a high flying, high energy, rim rocking wing, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s one dimensional. Stanley has proven to be a formidable offensive presence who should provide value at the NBA level.
Stanley’s swing skill will likely be his three-point shooting. During his freshman campaign, he shot 36.0%, converting 31-of-86 attempts. His shooting mechanics are clean, fluid, and consistent, but it’s important to note that self-creation on the perimeter and pull up threes were not a part of his repertoire. Interestingly, 100% of his three-point attempts were assisted. While he’s not running off a ton of screens, he’s effective at the small perimeter relocations that set himself up for open looks. This results in clean pre-shot footwork, eliminating off-balance attempts. His release isn’t the fastest, but due to his athleticism, the release point is high and difficult to contest, blocked only once in 86 attempts. Stanley’s consistency as a perimeter catch-and-shooter gives me confidence that he will serve value in this area at the NBA level.
Stanley’s ability to finish at the rim is an interesting study. On one hand, he has outrageous athleticism and bounce, which allows him to create space above the rim and rattle home powerful dunks. His explosiveness off either one or two feet is unmatched and subsequently creates a lot of advantages. The concerning part about his finishing is his touch. He converted only 47% of his shots at the rim this season, which is not ideal for a 6’6” wing. After watching his film, my feeling is that contact causes issues for him more so than a lack of skill. Stanley’s development of upper body strength will be a key factor in his ability to score at the rim. He’s already shown that he can get there, but the strength to finish through contact and skillfully using his innate body control will be essential in becoming a multi-level scorer.
Yet to be determined is Stanley’s reliability as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and perimeter creator. Duke rarely used him in pick-and-roll actions, with only sixteen registered possessions on Synergy. In these possessions his ball-handling was adequate and he was able to use quickness to create advantages, often getting to the rim for a bucket. While Stanley flashed a swift first step, coordination, and a soft floater, his vision and passing as a facilitator are substantial areas of improvement. Too many times he was able to penetrate the lane, yet turned the ball over or made a poor read on a pass, leading to a largely negative assist-to-turnover ratio. Some of these turnovers were fundamental flaws in his game, while I believe that others were products of pressing mentally. Duke asked him to fill a single, specific role, so any time the play resulted in him outside of that he appeared to press. To maximize Stanley’s value as a draft pick, especially in the first round, an organization must have a developmental plan in place. He’s raw as a ball-handler and passer, but he’s intelligent and coachable; the aptitude to excel at both is there.
The most exciting part of Stanley’s game is his transition scoring. Duke asked him to push the pace and he did it incredibly well, leading me to believe that if asked to do the same at the next level, he’ll be successful. He ranked 99th percentile as a transition ball handler and 100th percentile on leak outs. The finishing issues mentioned as a creator disappears with a full head of steam; he employs a mix of high flying dunks and creative moves to convert. He even displayed a silky smooth euro step, demonstrating the potential to improve further.
At the NBA level, I believe Stanley will be a strong spot-up three-point shooter and transition opportunist. He will need development to refine his ball-handling and decision making, as well as strengthen his upper body, but the foundation is there for him to become a viable piece for an offense.
As a point of attack defender, Stanley possesses good lateral quickness and mobility. When locked in, his athleticism allows him to stay in front of his man and deter drives into the lane, which is why he was often tasked with the most difficult assignments. I do have some concerns regarding his feel when pressuring the ball handler in isolation and pick-and-roll. He has a tendency to overthink instead of simply using his natural talent. A handful of times I noticed that he’s either searching for the screener or trying too hard to force his man in a certain direction; this process often costs him the initial step off the drive and opens the lane for the opponent. He’s an intelligent player which is great, but sometimes I’d love for him to simply play the game and let it come to him without overthinking.
Off the ball he generally provides good rotations and ball denials; I trust his awareness and understanding of scheme and responsibility. He is, however, guilty of falling asleep every so often. Due to his competitive nature and internal desire to win, I’m not worried about these mental errors right now. Although the box score won’t shout it, Stanley is also a terrific rebounder. He only averaged 4.9 boards per game but was second overall in rebounding for the entire Duke team. When given the opportunity he can fly above all others on the floor and secure what he needs. Being a productive rebounder may be a key part of Stanley’s ability to get early playing time, especially if he ends up with a team whose stars don’t want to do the dirty work.
Cassius Stanley is a winner. A fiery competitor with a will to succeed, he’s comfortable with high expectations and performs well under those circumstances. After back-to-back state championships with Sierra Canyon, he came to Duke and was outstanding in the role he was asked to fill. For him to continue this trajectory, I feel that the developmental system he’s drafted into will be the key to his ultimate success. His ceiling is sky high, and while he’s raw in some areas, he’s willing to learn and will put himself in the best possible situation to improve.
He will be 21.2 years old on draft night, and while some teams may see this as a reason to let him slip by, I feel that would be a mistake. Similar to his time at Duke, I believe he can excel in whatever role he’s asked to fill. Yes, championship teams need superstars to contend, but they are also filled out with significant, treasured complementary players. Cassius Stanley has the makeup to become just that.