Trey Lyles may not ever star, but profiles as a solid role player in NBA

Despite being a consensus top-10 player in the 2014 recruiting class, Trey Lyles was at times an afterthought on Kentucky’s road to a 38-1 season.

Often resigned to playing out of position at the nominal small forward spot after Alex Poythress’ season-ending injury in December, Lyles was seemingly forced out of his comfort zone with the Wildcats. In that role, Lyles performed admirably, averaging 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 23 minutes per game. However, his efficiency numbers suffered, as he is the owner of the second-lowest PER among players currently in my top-30.

So where does that leave Lyles’ draft stock after his year with Kentucky? Let’s take a look at what could become of the forward prospect.

I’ll start by discussing his frame, which is terrific for an NBA power forward at 6-foot-10, 235 pounds with a 7-foot-3.5 wingspan (measured last year at Nike Hoop Summit). I’m a bit skeptical of that wingspan measurement, but even if it fell all the way to 7-2 Lyles would have no problem playing the 4-spot in the NBA. His athleticism also profiles reasonably well at the NBA level due to his smoothness and fluidity, although that’s not what will make him an NBA player.

Lyles has awesome skill and basketball IQ levels that separate him from most prospects, particularly on the offensive end.

(via Shot Analytics)

As you can see, Lyles has tremendous touch around the rim, making 73 percent of his shots from within five feet. It’s worth pointing out as well that Lyles was actually more effective around the rim in halfcourt settings than he was in transition settings, meaning this number is not inflated by easy run outs off of steals.

However, Lyles did get many of his easy halfcourt buckets off of set-play cuts which led to either alley-oops or wide-open looks at the rim. The Wildcats specifically ran two plays involving Lyles coming off of screens to get him open looks at the rim. The first play seems to have been implemented around the midway point of the season after Lyles was inserted into the starting lineup, and was often used as their opening play of the game on offense. Lyles would start on the right wing, then run around rub screens at the foul line from Karl Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein before Andrew Harrison would pass the ball to Towns who would throw it up for an alley oop to Lyles after he came off the second screen. The second play was more simple, and was used early in the season when teams zoned the Wildcats more. Lyles would simply lurk around the wing, then would run behind a back screen set for him by another big man to free him for an alley-oop. Here are examples of these plays, and they show how smart and efficient his movements are off-ball.