Heading into the 2013/14 college basketball season, most of the discussions about Duke players and the 2014 NBA Draft revolved around Jabari Parker, and deservedly so. But Rodney Hood also began the year as a projected top-10 pick, but has moved down in the rankings due to the unexpected emergence of other players and some of his limitations on the defensive end.
But Hood apparently decided one year in Durham was enough and was rumored to be entering the 2014 draft. He is ranked 25th in the latest mock by Draft Express, while NBA Draft.net has him 11th, and CBSSports.com ranks him 13th. Chad Ford of ESPN.com has Hood currently ranked 16th on his Big Board.
The Mississippi State transfer entered the season as a player regarded to have a great outside shot, a good ability to take the ball to the rim, and no major offensive weaknesses that would keep him from being an NBA player. He didn’t do anything to dispel these notions. In 35 games Hood averaged 16.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 2.1 APG while playing 32.9 minutes per game. His slash line was .464/.420/.807. Hood’s numbers his freshman year at Mississippi State were 10.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 2.0 APG in 32.8 minutes a night.
Hood shares many of the traits that have attracted NBA teams to Parker’s game. He has shown himself to be a versatile player with excellent length, and good athleticism. He is also effective out in transition, able to finish at the rim, can beat defenders off the dribble, and can be very effective from behind the three-point line.
He ranked eighth in the ACC in 3-point field goals made, and sixth in total field goals made. Hood ranked first overall in effective field goal percentage with .550. His overall field goal percentage of .464 was good for fourth in the ACC, and his offensive win shares of 3.7 was good for third in the conference. Fine numbers for playing on a team as talented as Duke.
There aren’t a bunch of concerns about Hood’s offensive game, but there are a few question marks. Hood hardly ever goes to his right and this could become an issue at the next level. Teams will force him to use his right hand and it hasn’t been seen if he can finish going that way. The other unknown is Hood hasn’t been viewed as a play maker. While at Mississippi State he was strictly a catch and shoot player, but at Duke he has demonstrated a little more variety to his game. To be an effective scorer in the NBA though, Hood will have to show more of an ability to create his own shot. He also still needs to work more on passing to the open man instead of forcing up bad shots.
Though he has worked on his body, Hood has a slight frame and needs to add upper body strength, which he’ll need to play against NBA small forwards. He stands 6’8″, but is a slim 215 pounds. The majority of his offense comes as a shooter, because his lack of strength makes him hesitant to drive. Hood is also not a great rebounder, which again points to a lack of strength. He doesn’t have a frame made to carry bulk, so it will be a challenge for him to correct this.
Hood’s biggest weakness as an NBA prospect revolves around his defense, as he has shown questionable intensity on this end of the floor, rarely getting into an actual stance and frequently being knocked off balance and taken advantage of off the dribble due to his lack of strength. His relatively short arms don’t help, which may be reflected in his inability to generate steals (0.7 SPG), blocks (0.3 BPG) or rebounds (3.9 RPG), all of which rank among the worst rates in the draft at his position. According to Draft Express Hood has decent lateral quickness, so he could end up becoming at least adequate in this area, but he’ll have to improve his motor and hustle quite a bit and also get stronger and tougher, as he allows himself to get pushed around with minimal resistance more than he should.
It is all but certain that if Hood makes the jump to the NBA, the interest will be there. He will be a first-round pick and possibly crack the lottery, so it’s difficult to fault him for turning pro. But if Hood elected to come back to Duke this would give scouts the chance to see how he performs when he isn’t benefiting from playing alongside Parker, who is arguably the best player in college basketball. Hood could also use another year under coach Mike Krzyzewski to raise his overall basketball I.Q.. This could set him up to be an early lottery pick in 2015.
The temptation will probably prove too great for Hood. There is always a demand for shooters in the league, and he certainly has a sweet stroke from downtown. His offensive game reminds me of Robert Horry‘s, and as a prospect, his ceiling has been compared to Rashard Lewis‘. My prediction is that he might sneak into the end of the lottery, but more than likely falls into the 16-24 range, where he could end up being a value pick. His limitations will hold him back from stardom, but he has the offensive tools to be a valuable role player in the NBA.