Shooting is one of the most important traits in today’s NBA. Forwards who can shoot are vital to success. Even in the post-LeBron James era, the Cleveland Cavaliers know that. With the No. 26 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, they selected sharpshooting forward Dylan Windler from Belmont University.
In this day and age, it’s somewhat rare to have a four-year college player get selected in the first round, but Windler did just that. During his four years at Belmont, he continued to develop and improve each and every year, increasing his numbers, opportunities, and efficiency.
During his senior campaign in 2018-19, the forward averaged 21.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.4 steals while shooting 54% from the floor and 42.9% from three-point range in 33.2 minutes per game. But college threes are shorter than NBA range, you say? Don’t worry, Windler has been practicing from the NBA range this whole time.
Few players in recent college basketball history have found as much success experimenting with the NBA 3 as Dylan Windler did as a senior at Belmont. pic.twitter.com/7PLurDOKYQ
— Synergy Basketball (@SynergySST) June 21, 2019
While he may be an unknown name to many non-college basketball fanatics given that he played at Belmont, Windler is the type of flier that the Cavs should have (and did) take a flier on late in the first round. At 6-foot-8, 200 pounds, he has the size and athleticism to be a solid forward and his ability to knock down shots from wherever on the court is a huge plus.
With the 25th pick the @cavs pick #Belmont sniper Dylan Windler, who knocked down 3.3 threes per-40 minutes (2nd among our #NCAA mock draft picks) this season. Here's @Mike_Schmitz film room breakdown featuring Windler pic.twitter.com/4zFWO3jXEn
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 21, 2019
With solid footwork and an ability to create shots for himself, all while being a solid slasher off the ball as well, the 22-year-old seems to have the tools offensively. Windler’s ability to be a great rebounder is a great addition as well. His biggest question mark is on the defensive end of the floor, much like the guy the Cavs picked at No. 5, Darius Garland.
Here’s what At The Hive’s Jonathan DeLong said about Windler in his scouting report:
Strengths: Shooting stroke, offensive versatility, rebounding
Dylan Windler is a shooter. There’s a very real chance that he can turn into a J.J. Redick or Klay Thompson-like scorer. The former Belmont Bruin knocked down 42.9% of his 233 3-point attempts and 84.7% of his 137 free throw attempts as a senior. He has picture perfect mechanics off the catch and off the dribble and has deep range, even when on the move. His lightning quick release lets him get his shot off even with very little space.
Windler’s offensive contributions aren’t limited to his outside shot. He moves very well without the ball and frequently capitalizes on over pursuing defenders with back door cuts. He’s a smart and willing passer and should fit seamlessly into any offense.
Windler is a terrific rebounder for his position, despite his narrow frame. He led Belmont with 10.8 rebounds per game (13.0 per 40 minutes). He won’t be a dominant force on the glass physically, but he works hard and positions himself well.
Question marks: Attacking the basket, defensive potential, room for growth
Windler does most of his damage from the perimeter and off savvy cuts. He’s not a dynamic ball handler and doesn’t attack the rim with the ball in his hands. Whatever team drafts shouldn’t expect him to create too much with the ball in his hands. Much like Thompson and Reddick, he should be leaned on more as an off ball mover that makes snap decisions on the catch. He’ll struggle if he’s asked to attack from the perimeter.
Windler is very light for a combo forward at just 195 pounds. There might be room for a little bit more muscle on his frame, but the fact that he hasn’t gained more weight despite being nearly 23 years old. There’s reason to worry he’ll get pushed around by the more physical wings in the NBA. He also posted a +1.4 defensive box plus/minus as a senior, which isn’t good at all, especially considering that statistic should be boosted by his strong rebounding numbers.
As is the case with most prospects of Windler’s ilk, his age is a red flag. He’ll be 23 years old at the start of his rookie season, so NBA executives will probably question if there’s any growth left in him. He improved every year in college and his current skill set should help any NBA team immediately, but teams often find it easier to sell themselves on the future growth of a player than what he is right now.
Dylan Windler can immediately bolster the Hornets shaky outside shooting if he falls to them at 36. His overall skill level should provide a big boost to an offensive that became overly reliant on Walker too often, but he probably won’t help the team’s struggling defense.