Stanford’s Tyrell Terry knows what all the NBA’s draft analysts are saying about him. He doesn’t care so much for where he ranks in mock drafts, but he’s focused on proving all his naysayers wrong.
Listed at 6-foot-2, 160-pounds, there are questions about how Terry’s body will translate to the next level. It’s why after breakfast and some morning meditation to keep his mental health in check, Terry heads to the gym most days to start adding muscle.
“I’ve been working on my body so hard the last few months trying to show teams in the world out there that I’m more athletic than I’m given credit for,” Terry said on a pre-draft Zoom media availability Tuesday. “A lot of people were doubting that I’d even get a shot at an NBA roster a few months ago, so I kind of took that in the back of my head and worked my butt off all summer. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve been trying to show from now until draft night is I’ve made those improvements.”
This story should be one Toronto Raptors fans are quite familiar with. Toronto’s backcourt last season was led by two undersized guards whose bodies once raised serious concerns about their NBA potential. Instead of floundering at the next level, those guards, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, have found ways to flourish in the NBA thanks to their high basketball IQs.
That’s what makes Terry such an interesting fit for the Raptors in this year’s NBA draft. The 19-year-old Staford freshman who has interviewed with Toronto is a lights-out shooter with a high basketball IQ and some physical question marks that will likely force him to slip to the back end of the first round in November’s NBA Draft.
Coming out of DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Terry saw himself as a pass-first guard. He led the Islanders to two Minnesota state championships before leaving for Stanford.
Then, once Cardinals coach Jerod Haase got his hands on Terry, the freshman guard’s game totally changed.
“I went to Stanford and really found out that I could really shoot the ball and my coaches kind of went with that and kind of put me in great positions to showcase that,” Terry said.
Terry shot 40.8% on 4.9 3-point attempts to go with 3.2 assists a game in his lone season with Stanford.
It’s that sharpshooting that will be the most interesting for NBA teams, according to Sports Illustrated’s draft analyst Jeremy Woo who ranks Terry as the 20th prospect on his big board.
“Guards like Seth Curry and Landry Shamet make positive impacts in the playoffs points to a future role for Terry, who has work to do to become a truly elite shooter but has the right set of skills to play that type of role long-term,” Woo wrote. “His compact release and feel for moving the ball around the perimeter made him dangerous right away at Stanford, and he finished well around the rim, particularly for a guy his size. Terry has to improve playing off the bounce and continue adding strength, but it’s hard to discount his smarts and shooting potential. His size will likely be an obstacle on defense, but he has plenty of other things working in his favor. Though he may need a year to develop and get stronger, Terry has a clear path to becoming a high-end role player if things break correctly.”
Terry said he’s spent time this offseason watching film and learning how the NBA’s best guards get their shots off and create space at the highest level.
“Chris Paul is a big one that I’ve been watching a lot of film on, Trey Yong, Steph Curry, just to see what types of reads they’re making,” he said. “I see some skill sets in my game that are kind of compatible with theirs, so I think studying their game is big for me to see what they do in those situations and really study that.”
The upside for Terry is obvious. His shot and basketball IQ are impressive, but it’s going to take some work on the defensive end, especially adding weight if he’s going to put everything together.
Considering the Raptors’ G-League team is one of the league’s premier development program, it makes sense for Toronto to take a chance on the young guard, especially with VanVleet’s contract expiring this offseason and Lowry heading into unrestricted free agency in 2021.