Duke forward Rodney Hood put together a strong offensive season for the Blue Devils. But does he have the defensive ability to make an impact in the NBA?
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Rodney Hood | 2014 NBA Draft Profile

by Mark Remme
Web Editor
@markremme

Duke | Sophomore | Small Forward | 6-foot-8 | 201 lbs

2013-14: 32.9 MPG, 16.1 PPG, 46.4 FG%, 42.0 3FG%, 3.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.7 SPG

2011-12: 3.28 MPG, 10.3 PPG, 44.3 FG%, 36.4 3FG%, 4.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.4 SPG

--

Editor’s Note: Throughout June, Timberwolves.com will profile a series of prospects that could be available at Minnesota’s No. 13 pick, or if they choose to be mobile during the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26. Part I highlights Duke forward Rodney Hood, an athletic wing who put together an impressive season with the Blue Devils last year and impressed at the Draft Combine in May.

--

Rodney Hood didn’t follow the same one-and-done path other Duke players have in the past—his lone year in Durham differs from guys like Kyrie Irving in that it wasn’t his first stop. Hood transferred from Mississippi State after the 2011-12 season, sat out the following year and played one season on the court for Mike Krzyzewski.

But in only one season with the Blue Devils, Hood’s game flourished. He benefitted from Coach K’s style and philosophy on the game, and now—like so many others before him—Hood feels prepared to make the jump to the NBA because of the time he spent learning within the Duke program.

"[Playing at Duke] helps a lot,” Hood said at the Draft Combine in May. “You know, having a bull’s eye on your back. You kind of get scrutinized because you played for Duke and you’re always on TV. But it’s great. I learned a lot from Coach K and the coaching staff. The things he taught me are things I’m facing now in the workouts.”

Hood said he’s learned from those former Duke standouts who made the jump. Along the way, he’s talked with guys ranging from Grant Hill and Gerald Henderson to Kyle Singler and Mason Plumlee. They’ve helped him learn how to handle the rigors of making the transition to the NBA and to be assertive along the way.

Last year’s Blue Devils squad was headlined and highlighted by Jabari Parker—a potential No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. But don’t forget about Hood and what he can bring to the table. He’s a guy who could slide into the Top 10 this year or, at the very least, be available in the middle of the first round because of his offensive ability. He can score inside and out because of his length and his athleticism. He said his biggest assets are that he can space the floor, and he’s ready to come in and produce right away. That, and he’s hungry to win.

His challenge will be showing he can play solid defense at the next level. He said he knows that’s something he’ll need to prove.

“It’s something I’ve got to continue to show,” Hood said. “During the season, I guard the best player. And I think it’s kind of overblown about that, but it’s something that I’m very capable of doing and I’m willing to show—I’m willing to show to increase my stock.”

STRENGTHS

Hood is a lefty-handed shooter with a smooth stroke that has improved over the past three years. He can get his shot off over smaller defenders and play out of the post if put in that situation. He’s a player who looks comfortable hitting his jumpers in both catch and shoot and off the dribble situations. Hood is a smart player and a good passer, and that should help translate well into being able to navigate the pick-and-roll at the NBA level. He’s unselfish and is able to drive and kick when the opportunity presents itself. And he was drastically able to improve his 3-point shooting last year over his 2011-12 campaign while also attempting more shots from deep.

WEAKNESSES

The biggest question mark about Hood is whether or not he’ll be able to play defense consistently at the NBA level. His intensity as well as his technique on the defensive end will be studied and discussed by NBA franchises who are looking at drafting Hood. The other part of his game that will be looked at is how he handles contact. He’s not always great at fighting through screens defensively, and on the offensive end how does he handle attacking bigs at the basket?

THEY SAID IT

“I like to watch guys like Paul George—guys with similar build as me. I love watching [Manu] Ginobili. Him being a left-handed guy, how he’s so crafty. Joe Johnson. Wing players that can shoot the ball, that’s what I’ve been watching.” — Rodney Hood on which players he compares himself to in the NBA

WHAT HE CAN BRING TO THE WOLVES

Hood has solid length for a wing at the NBA level, and his athleticism allows him to be a productive player both as an outside shooter and as a slasher that can get to the rim. He’s a player who did not turn the ball over a lot at college, and so his feel for the game is also something that could be enticing. And while sometimes it is overlooked because younger draftees have more upside moving forward, Hood’s age gives him a little more experience and maturity coming into the league. He was able to endure a year off while transferring from Mississippi State to Duke, and he was able to improve almost all of his statistical categories. That improvement is encouraging for an NBA franchise.