With the 44th pick in the 2022 NBA draft, the Warriors selected Ryan Rollins out of the University of Toledo. A lot of fans had likely never heard of the kid, and after missing the entirety of summer league with a foot injury, Rollins is still unknown to a lot of hoop fans around the league.
Being overlooked is nothing new to the 20-year-old Detroit native and it’s only a matter of time until Rollins makes a name for himself in the league. After having a standout high school career in which he earned All-State honours in his senior season, Rollins was still just a three-star recruit.
The 6’4 guard was an immediate contributor in his arrival at Toledo but still went under the radar after a strong freshman season. Even after turning some heads in his sophomore season he was still widely considered a 2nd round prospect by many. But don’t let that fool you. The kid can play.
He probably won’t contribute much for Golden State in the upcoming season as the Warriors aren’t short of proven talent at the guard position, but Rollins is a guy that they’re going to have in their back pocket over the next couple of seasons and when he does get his opportunity people are going to wonder how Joe Lacob found yet another diamond in the rough.
Ironically, Rollins has shades of Jordan Poole in his game. He’s a little smaller than Poole but his build is also eerily similar to the baby Splash Brother.
Rollins is a lanky, shifty guard who loves to break down the defence and create off the bounce. Rollins is still a little bit raw as a bucket-getter, but he’s flashed all the tools you need to be a high-level scorer at the NBA level. The three-point shot was extremely inconsistent in his two seasons at Toledo but he’s got great form and is a mid-range killer which leads me to believe his game from beyond the arc will come around eventually, as long as he’s willing to put the work in.
The young guard is talented and comfortable both as a scorer and as a facilitator out of the pick and roll which projects well in a pick and roll-heavy league. Rollins’ poise as a pick and roll ball handler is beyond his years and I think he’ll excel in this area of the game early in his NBA career.
Although his deep shooting can be shaky, he does project as a three-level scorer. He’s most comfortable scoring in the mid-range and he can do so in a variety of ways. From getting to his spots in the pick and roll, to ISO situations, as well as post-ups – he’s comfortable doing it all in that 10-15 feet range.
With his average-at-best size, it’s tough envisioning him posting up very often at the next level but that part of his game fits perfectly into the Warriors’ offensive system. The Warriors love getting mid-post touches to run their split action, but it’s usually not somebody who has both the scoring and passing prowess that Rollins has. Like everyone else on the roster, he’ll have to buy into the offence and do the little things necessary that make their offence run as such a well-oiled machine but those things are mostly just effort and basketball IQ.
Don’t get me wrong, Rollins has a ways to go but he has the foundation of a really good NBA player and he’s the perfect understudy for Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson.
As much as I love Rollins as a prospect, no player is perfect, let alone a second-round pick.
The two things that stick out to me as weaknesses for Rollins are his tendency to over-dribble and his lack of consistency on his deep ball.
Rollins isn’t ever going to be the quickest guy in the gym which is all more reason for him to be more deliberate when creating his own shot. He has just about every combination of dribble moves you can imagine in his bag but too often he bails out the defence by over-dribbling. More often than not when Rollins keeps things simple, such as a one or two dribble cross, he’s able to create social-distancing like space, but when he starts pounding the ball six or seven times, all he does is give the defence more time to recover.
As I noted above, Rollins is talented at scoring off the dribble but his catch and shoot left a lot to be desired during his time in Toledo. His catch and shoot opportunities are an interesting study and it’ll be even more interesting to see it develop over the coming years.
Oftentimes the arc on his catch and shoot looks notably varied. Sometimes he’ll put a good chunk of air under his shot, other times it’ll be flat and then sometimes it looks just like his shots off the dribble. This feels like something that’ll simply fix itself over time just by getting more reps but it’s an odd problem to have for such a talented scorer.
Another issue that he’ll have to work on is his lack of strength. Especially considering his quickness isn’t elite, he’s going to have to get stronger to avoid getting bumped off his path at the next level. This is an issue for a lot of young guards in the NBA but Rollins had mid-major players able to knock him off his path in college; players are only stronger at the next level.
Rollins flashed the ability to absorb contact and finish but he certainly wasn’t good at delivering contact and finishing at the basket. Typically, he would try to avoid the contact altogether and end up having to finish at much less desirable angles around the rim. He was still efficient finishing at the rim but defenders in the NBA will go out of their way to be a little extra physical going against a guy of Rollins’ frame.
Again, Rollins is a work in progress but the tools are certainly there and he’ll be a fun guy to keep an eye on over the next few seasons.
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