Knicks Prospect Breakdown: Theo Maledon
My 2020 NBA Draft Profiles:
Theo Maledon is a 19 year old point guard who averaged 7.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 17.7 minutes per game with ASVEL in the EuroLeague; he shot 45.6% from the field on 5.7 attempts per game, and converted on 36.7% of his 2.2 looks from beyond the arc on average. Maledon is a hard-working and crafty point guard who has shown potential of developing into a floor-general type player with an ability to shoot, but might be limited in the NBA in part due to his struggles with creating space, his lack of "burst", and on defense.
Maledon, when running the offense, just seems to know what he's doing. He's displayed an ability to play at his own pace - which impresses me most when he's initiating and executing a pick-and-roll. When Maledon has the ball, he's consistently a threat to either shoot right when he catches it, create an open look for a teammate, or even shoot off the dribble.
His shot form is encouraging, as is his overall conversion rate of 82% on free throws from 2018-2020; he knows how to make up for his non-supreme athleticism with dribble moves and get to shots he's comfortable taking. Maledon isn't some instantly-dynamic scorer by any means, but he does excel in the paint. His ability to finish in the paint - an area in which his height of 6'4" comes in handy - is impressive, as he typically gets to the rim rather quickly and is then often able to convert the shot attempt (even with a bigger defender inside).
Even with his smooth handle and hesitation dribble moves, Maledon has a tough time creating space for himself on offense; this is due to simply not being able to quickly execute a "plan B" on various attacks of his. He gets eaten up easily by good defenders who read him well and are able to guess where he might be heading next, and struggles to find a way around those obstacles.
Maledon's frame isn't anywhere close to "filled out", as he weighs only 174 pounds. With the usual projected improvement in the muscle department for prospects, Maledon should find himself in possession of a decently strong frame and relatively dependable overall defensive ability - his wingspan is 6'8.5". I can see him being able to defend some opposing guards, but struggling big-time against strong guards like the Knicks' own RJ Barrett and point guards that are speedier than he is - with Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox serving as a prime example.
If he stays on guards that he can handle both size and speed-wise, Maledon likely won't be a big playmaker on defense - but also not a turnstile when on that end of the court. He might struggle most when switched onto wings and forwards - something for which I don't blame him at this age - but I project this to improve as well as he adds strength and fills in.
With all of the seeding games now complete in the bubble, the Clippers' first-round selection will end up being the 27th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft; I ranked Theo Maledon as the 27th best prospect in the class in my full first-round big board that I released on Twitter a few days ago. I'm not confident that Maledon will be available as late as 27 - Bleacher Report's latest mock draft has him going at #18 to the Mavericks - but the Knicks should certainly give him a look if he were to. I'd love for Maledon to come off the bench and share ball handling duties with Frank Ntilikina - so long as the guard tandem has scoring options also part of the second unit to distribute the ball to. I believe that if the Knicks did wind up with Maledon as a result of this fall's draft, they could - with proper development - wind up with a point guard who serves as an important piece of their team.