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Wade Baldwin – 6’4″ Point Guard, Vanderbilt University, 20 Years Old
After getting the starting job at Vanderbilt, many believed that Wade Baldwin would soar throughout the mock drafts of many experts. The 6’4″ point guard is one of the most intriguing prospects because of his combination of size and length for the point guard spot. He has an extremely long wingspan and is one of the best passing guards in this year’s class. Averaging 14.1 points, 5.2 assists, and 4 rebounds per game in college, Baldwin is a complete point guard with untapped potential. Needless to say, he is a diamond in the rough that is waiting to be polished by the right team. His sophomore year in Vanderbilt was a success as the Baldwin-led team finished the season strong, winning 19 out of its last 31 games. He is a physically well-built point guard that is looking to make an immediate impact in the league as he declares for the 2016 NBA Draft, where he is projected to go somewhere between late lottery to mid-first round pick.
Let’s start with his physical build. He is somewhere between 6’3 and 6’4 and he has a wingspan of 6’10, which is a pretty rare combination even amongst the elite guards in the NBA. That length is not only for show, though, as he uses his advantage to get to the line at least 7 times a game or finish above defenders on the fastbreak. He has a strong 193 lb. frame that allows him to absorb contact against bigger defenders. Even though he is not a great finisher around the rim, he more than makes up for it with his free throw shooting as he shot 80 percent from the line. He is certainly physically ready for the NBA.
Another thing that stands out is his potential as a defender. His size and strength are things to worry about for opponents as he can move his feet extremely well and can defend both guard positions, something that will prove to be very valuable for any NBA team. He has great feet and can close up extremely well. He’s disciplined defensively and can bother shooters with his length. With his wingspan, he can definitely force a couple of turnovers, even in the NBA.
The best part of his game is definitely his passing skills. He averaged 6.8 assists per 40 in the college level, and he has shown to be able to pass the ball with either hands. He is deadly when it comes to the pick and roll because of his natural ability to pass in different angles, although he needs to work on his scoring ability in the pick and roll to be a threat in the NBA. Defenders will sag off of him every chance they get.
The first question in mind is his shooting. Although Wade Baldwin is a very capable shooter, he is also very streaky. In his last couple of games for Vanderbilt, he shot a poor 28 percent from beyond the arc while shooting questionable shots from time to time. Also, his shooting skills do not translate well when it comes to creating a shot for himself, which is another one of his weakness. He cannot create a shot out of a broken play because his ball-handling is subpar compared to other guards, usually using basic crossovers to elude his defender.
As was said earlier, his ball-handling is something he needs to work on. Although he is respectable with the ball in his hands, he easily gets rattled against any type of pressure, especially with his left hand. The ball always bounces high whenever he attempts to drive to the rim with his left, and this welcomes incoming steal attempts. He is not flashy whatsoever, and he doesn’t need to be. He needs to add more moves to his arsenal, because a simple left-to-right crossover will not cut it in the NBA, especially against the great perimeter defenders in the league. As a point guard, he needs to work on his handles, because they will prove to be a liability on his part.
Although he is a beast in terms of his physical build, Wade Baldwin is not the most athletic guard out there. He is not quick enough to get to the basket without a screen, and even if he gets there, he doesn’t have the leaping ability to finish above defenders. Yes, he is effective on the fastbreak, but that is because the guards usually get back on defense before the big guys. With a lack of advanced moves with the ball and a very limited speed, he might struggle in the NBA where most guards can create their own shot when the shot clock is winding down.
The biggest thing he needs to work on is his decision making. He is turnover-prone because he usually goes in the teeth of the defense without thinking of a plan once he gets there. That won’t be good for his stock moving forward. Another thing is he is very out of control at times in transition, making careless passes that results in turnovers. He also makes very telegraphed passes whenever he sets his team’s offense, something he needs to work on if he wants to stay in the league for a long time.
He’s potentially a starter for a young and upcoming team, but don’t expect Wade Baldwin to be a star. He has all the right tools to be an impact player, but the weaknesses indicate that he won’t be the focal point of an offense, and he should accept that. He is still very young and has time to work on his skills, but for now he’s going to be a backup point guard for a team that’s looking to sneak into the playoffs, like the Bulls. He could be a starter, but that’s not going to happen in the near future unless a team like the Sixers, Nets, or Knicks trade for him. Plus, a point guard with his frame is always welcome to any NBA team, so he will last long in the league.
The safest bet is Kirk Hinrich as Hinrich had the same skillsets coming into the league. They’re both first point guards that rely on the team’s offense to be effective. But that doesn’t mean that’s Baldwin’s limit as a player, because if he steadily improves, he could be an impact player like Chauncey Billups, a knock-down shooter that was also a very capable passer.
Wade Baldwin is an intriguing prospect. Expect a team like the Chicago Bulls to snag him late in the lottery and develop him into a nice backup point guard until he is ready to lead as a starter. For now check out all of our NBA Draft player profiles.