Zak Showalter was a member of some pretty impressive teams during his four seasons as a Wisconsin Badger. Showalter made the Final 4 his freshman year, the National Championship as a sophomore, and the Sweet 16 the following two seasons.
By no means was Showalter the star player on any of these teams. However, the Wisconsin native was a starter as a junior and senior. While he wasn’t in the spotlight, it’s tough to say anyone on Wisconsin worked as hard or played with as much energy as Showalter.
Though he was a starter for only two seasons, he really gave off the motivated, committed style of play that well-respected sixth-men do in the NBA.
Let’s have a look at Showalter’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential best fit as we approach NBA draft day.
The best way to describe Zak Showalter is a hustle player. There is no question that the guard made the most of his 29.5 minutes per game as a starter last season. While not many of Showalter’s statistics particularly pop out, he is a decently well-rounded player. Though I said not many statistics, there is one that does. And that is his ability to steal the ball from his opponents.
Showalter is a quick, overbearing, and frankly, a really, really good defender in general. This is why he is able to steal the ball so frequently. Showalter’s 57 steals last season were third most in the Big Ten, trailing Josh Reaves 60 steals and his teammate, Ethan Happ’s, 67. Showalter also averaged the fourth most steals per game in the conference with 1.5.
This comes as no surprise, since it seems like Showalter is always on the floor diving for the ball. While Showalter was probably Wisconsin’s best defender last season, he was very efficient when shooting the ball as well.
The guard scored in double figures 14 times last season, including five consecutive contests towards the end of the regular season. More impressively, Showalter shot an even 50 percent from the field last season. Showalter really made the most of his shot attempts to say the least.
With Showalter’s exceptionally aggressive style of play for a 6-foot-3 guard, he was able to draw contact when shooting a decent amount. Showalter undoubtedly took advantage of his free-throw attempts. Last season, the guard shot 83 percent from the stripe. It’s also worth noting that Showalter shot better than 80 percent from the free-throw line in each of his last three collegiate seasons.
Showalter’s rebounding numbers were also above average for a guard. Though he averaged only 2.9 rebounds per game last season, he was able to collect at least five rebounds in nine contests last season. This included a season-high eight rebounds against Michigan. Showalter also notched double-digit rebounds once as a Junior.
Zak Showalter gives 110 percent in every aspect possible. This really shows when one looks at how balanced his game is for a normal-sized guard. Even though not much of what he does is astonishing, his work-ethic has to be really intriguing to professional teams.
While I mentioned that Showalter is extremely efficient when shooting the ball, the amount that he shoots is not encouraging. Last season, Showalter only averaged 5.8 field goal attempts per game, and that is a career high. This is a major reason why the most points Showalter averaged in a season was only 8.3 (last season).
For a guard with assist numbers that are good, but not great, Showalter needs to be able to demonstrate the ability to take over a game with his scoring if he wants to be drafted. He never really did that. So, it shows that Showalter doesn’t really possess the ability to single-handedly change the outcome of a game very frequently. He is just a role player.
Yes, Showalter is exceptional on defense. But is his defense so good that an NBA team would draft a 6-foot-3 guard for that purpose? Unfortunately not since Showalter is not nearly as good on offense as an NBA team would desire.
If Showalter were to somehow get drafted, he would most likely be a player used deep off the bench for defensive purposes. A team lacking in defensive talent off the bench would be one to draft Showalter.
However, also, a team needing a boost in morale and hustle players would be a good fit for Showalter. Honestly, the guard’s energy and attitude towards basketball could be just as valuable to a team than what he can do on the court.
At the end of the day, Zak Showalter is not going to get drafted. However, his defense and high-energy could easily land him a spot on an NBA Developmental League team.
There really aren’t many players that play with the determination that Showalter does. So, if he were to land a spot on a D-League roster, he could definitely outwork some better players and turn a few heads.
If not the D-league, there is definitely a spot for Showalter somewhere overseas if he chooses to go that route. It’s hard to say if Showalter would be a star overseas. Regardless, Showalter could easily be an effective starter. His floor-diving and out-hustling of opposing players could help build a successful career overseas.