One of the most gifted scorers in recent Nebraska history, Tai Webster, is looking for an NBA team come June 22nd. Can he make a squad and what can he bring to that team?
Webster came to Nebraska after some time playing for New Zealand’s National Team. According to his Nebraska bio, in 2013, he averaged over 18 points a game as the youngest player in the league.
He came to Nebraska in 2013-14 and struggled in his first two seasons. The scoring increased to over ten points a game his junior season, and Webster really came into his own this season.
The 6’4” guard averaged 17 points, five rebounds and four assists to pace the Cornhuskers. According to Nebraska Athletics, no other Nebraska basketball player has averaged those numbers. Against ranked opponents, those scoring numbers increased to over 19 points per game.
The wins never followed for Webster and the Cornhuskers. Nebraska made the NCAA Tournament in his freshman season, but was just a combined 28-37 in the years Webster averaged in double figures.
Now Tai Webster turns his attention to the NBA Draft, let’s take a look at what he can offer and best fits.
Offensively, Webster is a great scorer. Whether it was playing in New Zealand or in Lincoln, Webster showed an impressive ability to get into the lane to score around the basket. At 6’4”, Webster’s size is solid for a point guard. Should a team run some plays with the ball in his hands with a head of steam, some good things could happen around the basket.
Defensively, Webster is not the best defender, but it is not a weakness. Webster showed an ability to defend one-on-one and on help-side, and can get better through coaching and practice.
Webster has two big things working against him. The first is shooting. As a junior he averaged 35% from three, but did not average north of 30% from distance the other three seasons. With New Zealand, Webster was a poor shooter from distance as well. Consistent shooting from three will probably never be his game, but keeping teams honest will need to be an important improvement for the next level.
The other weakness isn’t really his fault. Webster is 22 years old, and teams will hold that against him. The league tends to favor younger players with potential, but the fact that Webster has successful professional playing experience could turn into a positive if a team is looking for more of an immediate fit at point guard.
Webster needs open spaces to get into the lane. Once there, he can be an effective scorer. The best fit would be within a team that would have an offensive system that will put the ball in his hands and let him create.
Some teams that jump out immediately are the Celtics and Warriors. Boston has had success designing offensive systems for players who need the ball in their hands in high pick-and-roll situations (Evan Turner, Isaiah Thomas). Golden State’s passing and movement would allow for Webster to get to the basket for scoring opportunities.
So far, Webster has worked out for Charlotte, Sacramento and Milwaukee.
There has been some talk of Webster as a second round “sleeper”, but more than likely, he will go undrafted. He already has an open offer from the NZ Breakers in New Zealand, but giving his best shot at the NBA will likely be his goal for some time.
He will likely get a shot in the Summer League and the potential is there for him to impress a team and earn a roster spot as a second or third string score-first point guard.