Ashton Hagans

2020 NBA Draft profile: Ashton Hagans could provide a T.J. McConnell-like spark off Sixers' bench

2020 NBA Draft profile: Ashton Hagans could provide a T.J. McConnell-like spark off Sixers' bench

Ashton Hagans

Position: PG
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 198 pounds
School: Kentucky

Ashton Hagans showed some real brilliance in his second year at Kentucky, but the guard also showed some immaturity and weaknesses as well. It was a bit of a mixed bag. Once thought to be a possible first-round draft pick, Hagans is more likely a mid-second-rounder. But given his flashes of greatness and his youth, he could be a steal for a team at that draft position.  

Strengths

With two other quality guards in Kentucky’s lineup, Hagans played both on and off the ball this past season. Hagans’ speed and exceptional court vision serve him well as a point guard. He is an excellent passer and boosted his assist average by more than two assists a game — 4.3 his freshman year to 6.4 his sophomore year. Hagans’ assist-to-turnover ratio this past season was about 2-to-1 on average but it actually improved as the season progressed. 

His speed not only serves him well for fast breaks and dishing to teammates but also for his defense. Hagans is one of the better defending point guards available in the draft this year. He came up with just under two steals a game and turns that into instant offense on the other end. He’s spoken on a number of occasions about the effort he puts in on his defense, and how he aims for it to be a hallmark of his game.

Weaknesses

Hagans’ one glaring weakness is his jump shot, specifically his three-pointer. Not that long ago, the point guard role was seen as a facilitator and not a shooter, but that has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. It’s the expectation, not the exception, that NBA point guards shoot and make a decent percentage of three-point shots.

Go back to Rajon Rondo though. He was a quintessential point guard, driving to the basket and doling out double-digit assist numbers. But those days are over and it’s not the norm to have a non-three-point-shooting point guard. Hagans made only 26 percent of his treys and he only averaged about two attempts from three a game. This is one of the reasons he will be a second-rounder in a draft full of guards. 

I recently watched Hagans in a pre-draft workout video and the first two minutes of it were solely made three-pointers. Of course, it’s edited — why would you put in the misses? — but he’s clearly working on that part of his game. 

Hagans' size, while decent with a 6-6 wingspan, is a little deceiving with his strength. There are times where he was pushed around from a driver in the lane. There is also some concern about his maturity and NBA-readiness. Some of those readiness question marks stem from his lack of strength, but a lot of the questions come from his decision to take the final game of the regular season off and stay in Lexington, rather than travel with the team to Florida. 

There’s a lot to unpack there, but I will tell you that Kentucky can be a pressure-packed environment with a passionate fan base, and some can be unkind (sound familiar?). Hagans said he needed to step away briefly to focus on his mental health, something we should praise instead of malign. However, it has caused some concern about his mentality heading into a professional setting. The NBA isn’t a picnic. Hagans did rejoin the team upon their return and was prepared to play in the postseason. He has spoken openly about his state of mind and being ready for the next level. 

Fit

For the Sixers, Hagans would fit because of his defensive mindset and his ability to run their pace of play. He is a hard worker on the court and does a lot of things that do not show up on the stat sheet. That type of player is always welcome in the Sixers’ system. 

If Hagans’ outside jumper has improved as his pre-draft work shows, then he could also be a valuable bench option for the Sixers. Right now, I would fit him in as a more athletic T.J. McConnell, who always provided quite the spark for the team when he entered the game. Hagans is a very good court general and can run an offensive with efficiency as well, proving him to be a second-round value selection. 

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