Prospect Breakdown: Rashad Vaughn

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Rashad Vaughn’s College Stats

Team: UNLV

Vaughn College

Rashad Vaughn’s Las Vegas Summer League Stats

Team: Milwaukee Bucks

Vaughn SL

Rashad Vaughn is good at basketball. Like, really good. At the age of 19, he has a firm grasp on the art of scoring which would not look out of place among some of the more effective scorers in the league today. This is even more impressive because from a physical standpoint, while Vaughn has some good size to play the 2, he doesn’t really stand out athletically. He’s not all that quick, nor is he a flashy dunker. In fact, he tore his left meniscus in February, but he bounced back well enough to put up comparable numbers to his lone college season while in Summer League.

I’m going to go ahead and give Vaughn the benefit of the doubt here with his shooting. He’s probably rusty when it comes to serious minutes in actual games, his other stats translated to be just around the same as they were in college, and he had to adjust to a new system which included assuming more defensive responsibilities (UNLV played a fair amount of zone). His efficiency isn’t the problem, however. Vaughn already has a knack for creating open shots with a fair amount of tools at his disposal, but he’s just as prone to settling for some atrocious looks when he is open. Now, he’s pretty adept at actually making those sub-par shots, but if he was a little more judicious with his shot selection, his efficiency would skyrocket.

You can witness the disparity between his talent and his decision making here.

Vaughn takes a lot of shots from mid-range. Sometimes they work out like in the first clip, and he puts his offensive acumen on display, but sometimes he works himself into a corner and takes weird, rushed fadeaways like the second clip. Shooting from mid-range is great if you’re particularly adept at it (see: Dirk, Paul, Afflalo), but otherwise you can find yourself a better look, and Vaughn isn’t on an elite tier of mid-range shooting. At least, not now.

One shot that Vaughn likes is the floater. Some people will cringe upon hearing this because they know the floater is more-or-less the most inefficient shot one can take, unless your name is Tony Parker. Again, Vaughn is more talented than most at making floaters, but it usually isn’t the best shot he can take.

As prolific a shooter as he is, Vaughn gets both defenders in the air with a pump fake. He can go straight for the hoop and probably force whoever is desperately rotating to foul him, but instead opts for the floater and is promptly swatted by Jerian Grant. Luckily for Vaughn, he’s bailed out by a foul call which Walt Frazier finds most dubious.

So far, I’ve talked about the shots Vaughn takes when he initiates his own offense. He actually tries to defer to his teammates by playing off-ball for a fair amount of the offensive possessions in which he is on the floor. This mostly consists of standing in the corner or wing, and cutting to the top of the three-point line. When slashing, he rarely mixes up his speeds or directions, but he’s fine in a straight line. He also doesn’t do a whole lot in terms of pushing the fastbreak. Sometimes it works out, but you always get the sense that Vaughn could do more.

He might have missed, but that’s a prime example of a good shot for Vaughn when coming off the hand-off.

Vaughn makes the extra pass here, despite having a good look, and Gregg Popovich is smiling, somewhere.

When you trap him and force him to get rid of the ball, though? This pass from an awkward angle isn’t so hot.

Vaughn also has some issues with keeping track of the shot clock which are, quite frankly, baffling. Many times throughout the game, he shoots rushed shots with ample time left on the clock, and, well, there’s this.

Seriously, what?

Vaughn could have also scored a few gimmes, but he bobbles some easy passes. Take this backdoor cut, for example. The end result of this play should be an open layup, but things go awry.

I would say Vaughn is at his best when he stops overthinking and just plays basketball – when the game turns up a notch in intensity, he takes it straight to the rack with some good results.

Defensively, Vaughn is a major work in progress. Having played in a system that utilized so much zone, it’s not entirely his fault; after all, he shows occasional flashes of putting his length to use, and can probably become an average defender at the very least with enough work. Right now, though? Yikes.

The biggest problem I have with Vaughn on the defensive end is that he just doesn’t show off enough of a motor. He often lags a step behind his man, which might be because he doesn’t want to overcommit to a direction, but this leads to being flattened by picks. Vaughn’s help defense is also inconsistent – there’s a lot of hovering in the high post between the player he’s assigned to, and whomever he chooses to double team. His timing is also suspect when going up to contest shots, and is prone to unnecessary fouls, like right here.

Here, he gambles on a steal.

Finally, here is Vaughn wandering in the general void of nothingness, he’s not really in a position to make any meaningful action. Shades of Monta Ellis in the worst way.

Things can click for Vaughn on this end, though. He has some good rebounding instincts, knowing when to collect the board after his teammates have made an attempt at boxing out. Like this play, where Maurice N’Dour is in prime position for a putback until Vaughn comes into the scene.

Here’s a great example of Vaughn putting his length to use by letting his defender go past him, which actually sets up a perfectly timed block.

Ultimately, I think Rashad Vaughn can be a steady contributor at the NBA level. In a few years, after having grasped the nuances of higher level play (especially when being coached by a basketball genius in Jason Kidd), he could be an integral part of a team’s offense whilst not sinking its defense at the same time. His game is absolutely suited for the modern NBA, and while the Bucks were heavily scrutinized for selecting Vaughn with the 17th pick when he could’ve slid to the second round, I don’t think they reached with this pick. Being just nineteen years old, and the second youngest player in the draft, Vaughn certainly has his fair share of upside.

Verdict: Vaughn will be everything the Bucks wanted out of OJ Mayo and he’ll reach that level sooner, rather than later. At his peak, he could be a super sixth man on any contender, and a decent starter anywhere else. As long as he is receptive to playing in a team-first environment that emphasizes smart choices instead of trying to rack up points, I think he’ll succeed where the JR Smiths and Nick Youngs of the league haven’t. Just don’t expect a whole lot out of him as a primary option on offense.

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