NBA Draft 2021 Profile: Joshua Primo’s versatility could boost Nuggets backcourt

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

Draft season is officially upon us.

With exactly three weeks to go until the 2021 Draft, final preparations are underway to figure out which player might make the most sense for the Denver Nuggets at pick 26.

With Jamal Murray’s injury, one could imagine an emphasis placed on adding a guard or wing player to the mix through the draft, especially players that specialize in 3-point shooting, shot creation, or elite perimeter defense. In today’s NBA, you can never have enough of those three skills on your squad.

Over the ensuing weeks, Nuggets.com will take a look at six prospects who will likely be available when Denver is on the clock or prospects that have been linked to the team through various mock drafts.

We begin with a look at Joshua Primo, a combo guard from the University of Alabama.

Background info

Age: 18

School: University of Alabama

Grade: Freshman

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 190 pounds

2020-21 Stats:

8.1 PPG

3.4 RPG

43.1 FG%

38.1 3P%

22.4 MPG

Profile

Primo’s appeal is focused on the player he could become in the future. Primo is the youngest player in this year’s draft, which should limit expectations regarding his ability to contribute right away to Denver’s backcourt.

However, the intrigue surrounding the 18-year-old’s ability to be an effective player on both sides of the ball will likely lead to teams selecting him in the first round. Let’s start with Primo’s skill set on the offensive end.

Many of the Canadian’s statistics were muted as a result of playing behind several established guards in Alabama’s rotation. At just 22.4 minutes per game, Primo wasn’t always able to showcase his full abilities on both ends of the floor.

One area of Primo’s game that stands out almost instantly is his 3-point shooting. The combo guard shot 44.3 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts in the half-court this past season and given his fluid shooting form and preparation before catching any pass, Primo projects to be a plus 3-point shooter in the NBA, especially in off-ball settings.

However, Primo also showcased an ability to hit pull-up shots, which would force defenses to avoid going under screens, thus opening up potential passes to roll men or off-ball shooters.

For a Nuggets team that can continue to use effective 3-point shooters in the backcourt, Primo’s ability to hit from deep consistently and through a variety of attempts is certainly appealing.

As for his on-ball scoring and shot creation, Primo relies on his length to get creative with finishes around the basket. However, as the youngest player in the draft, it will take some time for the 18-year-old to fill out his frame and have more strength to use at his disposal when attacking defenses inside the paint.

With a limited first step and a lack of comfort finishing with his left hand, Primo projects as more of an off-ball guard early in his NBA career, one that can get open for 3-point attempts, cut to the basket, or initiate second actions if the initial play stalls out.

On the defensive end, Primo’s size and length make him an intriguing backcourt defender capable of guarding multiple positions. Point-of-attack defense is crucial in the NBA, and Primo’s potential to guard opposing point guards with his 6-foot-5 frame with a 6-foot-9 wingspan should appeal to nearly every NBA team.

Again, with experience will come sharper rotations and fewer mental mistakes. However, you can’t teach size or wingspan, and Primo has both of those aspects going for him on the defensive end to be a positive impact player on that side of the floor.

What they’re saying:

“At 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Primo is intriguing to NBA teams not just because of his youth, but also because of the fluidity and creativity he shows as a ball handler. He also has upside as a passer as he gains experience, and his dynamic shooting stroke will give him a chance to carve out a role early in his NBA career.” – ESPN

“It’s not hard to see why NBA teams are taking a liking to Primo. He’s a long and athletic guard who shot 38% from three-point range and is young enough for organizations to dream about his developmental potential. Before the combine, there were some questions about his skills, particularly his ability to shot create for himself and others off the dribble.” – Sports Illustrated

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