Wisconsin's Sam Dekker recently declared for the 2015 NBA Draft and is considered to be a sure first round pick on draft night. Today, we look at his collegiate career and his strengths and weaknesses as he heads to the NBA. We'll also take a guess at who may end up selecting the Badgers' star.
Sam Dekker contributed significantly in each of his three seasons at Wisconsin. His 13.9 points per game this year on 64% shooting inside the arc was impressive. What he needed to improve more, however, was his outside stroke. His decline in 3-point percentage over his 3 years at Wisconsin was significant from 39.1% his freshman season to 33.1% his junior season. His overall floor game has improved significantly while at Wisconsin with his improved rebounding, while also cutting his turnovers to less than one per game this season. In the 2015 NCAA tournament, Dekker was able to improve his three point percentage shooting 15 out of 30 from deep before an 0-6 showing against Duke in the National Championship Game.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Dekker has proven to be a very versatile player when making his 3-pointers. He is a mismatch in the post at 6' 9'' and quietly has good athleticism and ability to rise above defenders and finish at the rim. He is a very smart player and can play either forward position, along with shooting guard for periods of time. Dekker is very good with defensive rotations. He is an above average passer and can find shooters on the wing when doubled in the post. He is a strong rebounder for a small forward and has the ability to get a rebound and start a fast break by himself.
Dekker's 3-point shooting is going to need to improve at the next level, especially because Dekker will not be able to play power forward much in the NBA. He was a very streaker shooter in college and would show ability to make a tough shot, yet miss a wide open shot the next time down the floor. He can struggle at times one-on-one with either a stronger player in the post or a quicker player on the wing. He rarely creates for his teammates unless passing out of the post. He needs to develop a shot off the dribble and a one-on-one game from the wing and not just the post.
As of now, it looks like Sam Dekker will be chosen in the middle of the first round. By developing a consistent three point shot to go along with his post-up ability, Dekker could be a very productive small forward in the NBA. He will initially be challenged defensively by quicker small forwards and will have to continue to improve his post-up game against stronger NBA defenders. A team looking for talent on the wing like the Boston Celtics or Phoenix Suns could be a landing spot for Dekker. Brad Stevens may even see some of his former Butler star Gordon Hayward in Dekker. At the worst, he shouldn't fall past the Wizards (19) with aging Paul Pierce on the wing and a backcourt already set for the future.
Ultimately, Dekker can be a very effective player at the next level and could have a nice career by just developing a consistent three point shot. This will give him the versatility that NBA teams look for on the wing and the ability to play inside or out. In order to become an all-star caliber player, Dekker will also have to improve his dribble-drive game and create offense for himself and others from the wing.