School: College of Charleston
You’re forgiven if the name Grant Riller doesn’t ring a bell. He wasn’t even rated by some outlets as a recruit coming out of high school in Florida. While the College of Charleston guard isn’t a household name, he’s been getting plenty of NBA draft buzz.
After being forced to redshirt in his first season because of a knee injury, Riller became a four-year starter and two-time All-CAA pick. He shined during his junior and senior years, averaging 21.9 points a game.
Riller is a scorer at all three levels. He has the audacity to pull up from anywhere, is lethal in the midrange and can finish at the basket.
He wasn’t an elite three-point shooter in college (35.6 percent on four attempts a game) and his release is a little funky. But his ability in the midrange and at the free throw line (81.8 percent the last two seasons) suggest that he could do better with more space at the next level. He also hit 41 percent on catch-and-shoot threes, per Synergy Sports. His step-back shot is pretty much unguarable.
His knack for getting to the basket is aided by a strong handle and changing speeds effectively. He can finish with either hand and does well using his body to shield the ball from defenders. He has a variety of ways to finish, including a wicked Euro step. He shows decent burst and changes gears to catch defenders napping or punish bigs that have switched out on him.
His ability in the pick-and-roll is excellent because of his handle and his capability as a shooter. He routinely split defenders and found his way to the basket. Though his assist numbers weren't elite, that's more the result of him being asked to score. He has the necessary vision and touch as a passer to run an offense.
He has physical abilities that make you think he could be a passable NBA defender. He averaged 1.6 steals a game his senior year.
The biggest knock on Riller will be the level of competition he faced. He shot a combined 10 of 27 against the likes of Oklahoma State and Wake Forest last season. In his defense, he was surely the one player both teams had at the top of their scouting reports.
He played an off-ball role in college and that’s likely what he’s best suited for, despite flashes as a primary ball handler. He doesn’t have the greatest height and length to do so at the NBA level. Bigger point guards could give him some problems.
There are big questions about his defense. As mentioned, he has traits that make you think he can defend, but he rarely showed them in college. It seemed like he took possessions off on that end of the floor.
Another issue will be Riller’s age. He’s already 23, only a few months younger than Ben Simmons.
Riller will likely be there for the Sixers at pick 34 or 36 but probably won’t last until 49. He ticks a few boxes for the Sixers as a shot creator and maker. His age likely won't be seen as a detriment to GM Elton Brand, who came away with experienced college players Matisse Thybulle and Marial Shayok in the 2019 draft.
He may fit next to Simmons better than any guard in the second round. Riller and Simmons could make for a deadly pick-and-roll combo. You could also see him as a candidate to run a two-man game with Joel Embiid, à la JJ Redick. His high clip on catch-and-shoot opportunities could help space the floor for both stars.
With four years of college experience, Riller could challenge Shake Milton for playing time as a rookie. If not, he could take a similar path to Milton and Shayok — learning the team's system and dominating in the G League while awaiting an opportunity.
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