LJ Figueroa is one of the most underrated players in the country. He has had some major contributions in big games and put himself on NBA radars. While he is only a sophomore, it is possible he could keep his name in the draft. Regardless, it is a difficult time to evaluate yourself as a prospect because of the difficult societal times.
LJ Figueroa 2020 NBA Draft Profile
Figueroa is a 6’6 forward from Massachusetts that found a nice home at St. John’s. While the team has had intermittent success, Figueroa has been mostly steady. He averaged 14.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game for his career. Last season, he shared the wealth with Shamorie Ponds, but this season he put up nearly identical numbers. Figueroa is uber-talented, but he is not put in a position to showcase those abilities as much as he could be.
In college, Figueroa spent most of his time off the ball in a spot-up position, but that does not seem to fit his skill set. Realistically, he is a player that needs to ball in his hands and would work better in an isolation type system. Luckily, that is ideal for the NBA systems.
Figueroa is a solid shooter from distance. For his career, he averages 37 percent from three on about five threes per game. Being relegated to his spot-up role means that he had to increase his number of attempts and he became a volume scorer.
Another one of Figueroa’s main strengths is his handle. He is a bit of a “tweener.” Basically, he is half a forward and half a wing. Since he always finds himself on the wing, Figueroa can put the ball on the ground and get to his midrange game. Typically, he played the four in college so he was often playing bigger players and could utilize his handle advantage.
Figueroa is only listed at 6’6, but he has ridiculously long arms. He can use his length to get off tough shots and make plays. On the other side, his length should get him a ton of deflections and blocks leading to transitions buckets. As it was, Figueroa averaged 1.9 steals per game, but only 0.5 blocks.
Figueroa’s shooting numbers plummeted this year. In his freshman season, Figueroa shot 52 percent from the field. As a sophomore, those numbers dropped to 38 percent. He took about two more shots per game this year, but they were mostly three-point attempts. Also, the twos he took were often very difficult causing that average to drop to 39 percent.
These shooting numbers are directly related to poor decision making by Figueroa. When the ball does not move frequently in an offense, players can feel like they have to force. It appears that is what Figueroa felt this season. He is a far better shooter than 39 percent from the field. He needs to have a better feel for the game and situation and that should come with a better situation.
The other concern for Figueroa is his tendency to be invisible for stretches of games. Again, it could be related to the situation, but he can still be better. It would be nice to see him go get rebounds and make an impact in ways other than scoring.
NBA Player Comparison
Jerami Grant. Grant is definitely a better defender right now. They both played similar roles in college and LJ Figueroa should try to emulate Grant again in the NBA. He should be a knock-down jump shooter that makes plays by rebounding and providing a ton of energy.
NBA Draft Projection
Late second round to undrafted.
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