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“Mr. Versatility” Drew Peterson: A Modern NBA Ready Wing

Big wings with ball skills are highly valued currency in the NBA. Is USC's 6-foot-9 wing a sleeper that NBA teams can strike gold with?
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Big wings and jumbo initiators that can shoot, dribble, pass and are switchable defenders are like NBA gold. It’s a race to identify, accumulate and develop players of that archetype. Simply put, the blissful blend of size, skill and versatility wins.

As that race ramps up during the pre-draft process, USC’s fifth-year senior and 6-foot-9 do-it all-big wing, Drew Peterson, is a prime target for NBA teams mining for late round gold and hoping to unearth an immediate contributor. Operating as a jumbo initiator, Peterson has progressively improved throughout his collegiate tenure and continued to stuff the stat sheet in his best and final season with averages of 13.9 points (career-high), 6.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists (career-high), 1.9 stocks (career-high) while shooting 35% from three.

In describing his versatile game and appeal to NBA executives, Peterson expressed, “I think the biggest thing for me is that I can do whatever a team needs. I'm here to fill any role whether it’s shooting, passing, rebounding, defending. I'm your guy and I’m ready to be plugged in wherever. Where the league is headed with positionless basketball, I think I’m perfectly suited for that.”

Skillset Snapshot

Peterson’s seamless fit into the modern NBA starts with his long 6-foot-9 frame and ability to shoot the ball, two qualities that should translate for him and will ALWAYS catch the eyes of scouts.

“Just getting consistent with my three-point shooting," Peterson told Draft Digest. "It’s something where I tried to increase my volume (4.1 attempts, up last season’s 3.5), and I know how important that is to be able to do that on the next level, to be able to space and catch-and-shoot.”

Peterson, a career 35% shooter from deep, matched his career-mark this season on 134 total attempts. In combination with his fluid stroke, deep range and overall shotmaking versatility ranging from spot ups, pindowns, pullups, fadeways, pick-and-pops, etc., he’s a reliable shooter with legitimate shooting gravity.

Outside of the eye test, a deeper dive into his shooting numbers both further reveal his impactful shooting and reasons to be optimistic about a jump in three-point percentage. Over his three seasons at USC, Peterson knocked down threes at a 38% clip compared to 31% in his two seasons at Rice. Getting nerdy with some numbers via synergy, this season he shot:

  • 35.7% on catch-and-shoot threes (30-of-84)
  • 40.5% on unguarded catch-and-shoot threes (17-of-32)
  • 36.7% on ball handler pick-and-roll threes (11-of-30)
  • 34.7% on off the dribble threes (17-of-39)

Influenced by arguably the greatest basketball player of all time and the prototype big wing/jumbo initiator, LeBron James, there is no surprise passing and playmaking are amongst Peterson’s best and favorite skills. Peterson finished the season with 11 games of at least six or more assists including dishing out a career-high 12 assists in a win over Mount St. Mary’s.

Leveraging his size, feel, vision and ever-developing handle, he adds tremendous value as a secondary and tertiary creator. He’s able to effectively facilitate and process out of pick-and-rolls and make reads out of the post against smaller defenders while giving teams all of the connective passing that keeps offenses flowing and helps create quality shots.

Additionally, as a big wing that rebounds in and out of his area, he’s able to further weaponize his passing as a grab-and-go threat that’s capable of handing and making decisions in transition.

Offseason Deposits

Developing his body and adding strength are two key improvement areas that Peterson is keenly aware of and attacking.

“With the physicality of the next level, the biggest thing for me is continuing to put on weight. I came into college at about 168 points and got up to about 200 pounds now. So, adding about 32 pounds of muscle progressively, about seven or eight pounds each off-season.”

His steady off-season gains point to a couple of things: 1) an NBA caliber work ethic and 2) a frame that’s still developing (yes, even at 23 years old) and able to support more muscle/strength without sacrificing any movement skills. 

Once he gets inside of an NBA strength and conditioning program, it’s not out of the question to see him around 215 to 220 pounds without sacrificing any of his movement skills.

Despite being a limited athlete, he’s a functional one with size that with added strength should be able to handle contact at the rim better and hold his spots on both ends of the floor. Teams don't need him to be a defensive stopper, just continue to be the competitive and active defender that’s switchable because of his size, length, fluidity and effort.


Reflecting upon his path so far while offering advice to youth with the dreams of playing in college and hopefully the NBA. Peterson shared:

“Trust the process," Peterson told Draft Digest. "I know it’s cliche, but I think there were a lot of times I felt like I wasn't in the spot I wanted to be in, didn’t necessarily always feel comfortable with decisions, especially in high school when I wasn't a big time recruit (about 13 offers, mostly Ivy League). I think everything happens for a reason in where you go and your journey there. I’m thankful for every step and the character it’s built.”

Peterson’s journey, one that started with going to multi-sport camps as a kid and falling in love with the beautiful game of basketball, now has him on the cusp of becoming an NBA player and potentially found gold for an NBA organization. 

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