Of the 200 or so hopefuls breathlessly anticipating the July 29 NBA draft, it’s likely none has better and worse timing than Corey Kispert.
Deep shooting is at a premium in today’s NBA and the consensus is the Gonzaga star is the best in the draft. The vast majority of NBA teams – including the Warriors on multiple occasions, according to league sources – have evaluated and interviewed Kispert.
But he’s also 22 years old, a four-year collegian. In today’s NBA, many consider that age/experience profile as a liability. It’s why there’s a pretty good chance Kispert will be the first senior selected.
Projected to go between 10-16, the small forward also made a valiant effort to lobby the Warriors, who hold the No. 7 and No. 14 picks.
“The guy that has been the gold standard for me since forever has been Klay Thompson,” Kispert said at the draft combine. “Whenever I don’t feel good about my game or have a bad night or whatever, I watch him score 60 on 12 dribbles. That’s my main highlight.
“The way he plays the game, the way he impacts their team, you’ve seen how much they miss him since he’s been out. I want to be as close to that as I can.”
Kispert spent last season seducing NBA scouts. He punctured an excellent Virginia defense for 32 points while draining 9-of-13 from deep in a 98-75 rout, and later claimed he was motivated by being rejected by Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett during the recruiting process.
And there was Kispert’s consistency. As the primary shooter for the team that spent most of the season ranked No. 1, he made at least four triples in eight different games across a demanding schedule.
Moreover, his 3-point shooting efficiency improved in each of his four seasons. And then, at the combine, surprised observers with a 37.5-inch max vertical leap and a 2.99 shuttle run that was bested by only one player. Though marksmen tend to be targeted on defense, Kispert uses IQ and anticipation to do a solid job on that end.
Kispert uses strength against smaller defenders, backing them in until he gets to his spot. He uses relentless off-ball movement to beat (or trick) bigger defenders. In short, he has a deep package of methods to get open.
The Warriors have one shooter, Justinian Jessup, in their waiting room, his future to be determined. They’ll add at least one more, via trade or draft or free agency. Don’t be surprised, should they stay in the draft, if it’s Kispert.
Corey Kispert Profile
Position: Small forward
Birthdate: March 3, 1999
Hometown: Edmonds, Wash.
2020-21 season averages: 18.6 points (52.9 percent FG, 44.0 percent 3-point, 87.8 percent FT), 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists.
NBA comps: Joe Harris, Bojan Bogdanović, Dillon Brooks
What they’re saying: “The best thing he’s doing, and I started getting on him last year about this, was he’s hunting his shots and he’s shooting some closely-guarded shots. He’s big, he’s athletic, he’s got a high pocket and he doesn’t have to change his shots. I give him a lot of credit for going out and practicing that.” -Gonzaga coach Mark Few, after Kispert’s 32-point performance against Virginia.