Cason Wallace is a freshman guard out of the University of Kentucky. Wallace averaged 11.7 points, 4.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.0 steals on 45/35/76 shooting splits at Kentucky. Kentucky finished third in the competitive SEC with a 22-12 record.
Cason Wallace 2023 NBA Draft Profile
Kentucky secured a bid as the sixth seed in the NCAA Tournament, ultimately losing in the second round to Kansas State. However, Wallace played exceptionally well in his final game as a Wildcat. He scored 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals while shooting an efficient 81.8 percent from the field.
Head coach John Calipari had Wallace step up as a point guard when starting point guard Sahvir Wheeler suffered an ankle injury on February 7th that ruled him out for the remainder of the season. As a result, Wallace was more aggressive as a player. He became a primary ball handler, distributing and looking to score more often.
Scouts have always been enamored with Wallace’s defensive abilities. But, that last month and a half at Kentucky shot Wallace’s draft stock even higher. He proved he’s a versatile player that can play both sides of the ball and either guard position.
Wallace is arguably the best defensive guard in the draft and a great two-way player. He is a 6-foot-4 guard with good length and athleticism. Wallace is a pest defensively with his quick hands and feet, as evidenced by his two steals per game at Kentucky. In addition, Wallace can provide impactful minutes, locking down the opposing team’s best backcourt player. Wallace’s length allows him to be a versatile defender and guard positions one through three at the next level. He’s also a good rebounder for his position and can push the pace when he grabs a defensive rebound.
Offensively, he is a good playmaker who sees the floor well and often makes the correct read. While not a sharpshooter, he shoots well enough to be a threat from deep, making him a good floor spacer.
He’s an ideal complementary piece to bring energy off the bench, particularly early on in his career. Wallace is one of those players that knows how to impact the game even without scoring the ball. He does all the intangible things well, which certainly translates to winning. Because of this, he should be viewed as a relatively safe pick in the draft with a high floor.
It’s challenging to find a weakness in Wallace’s game, as he’s such a well-balanced two-way player.
However, the one thing that stands out is that he could be a more efficient shooter. If you’re drafting a guard early in the draft, you’d ideally like to see him shoot a few percentage points higher from three and the free-throw line. It’s fair to question whether Wallace can create (and make) shots for himself in the NBA.
Because of his passing and defensive abilities, Wallace can still be valuable in the NBA while averaging only ten points a game. However, this may cap his upside and All-Star potential if he cannot become a reliable go-to scorer.
Wallace has shown flashes of being able to carry the scoring and playmaking duties, but he needs to do it consistently for an entire NBA season. If he doesn’t, Wallace could become a solid role player.
That doesn’t make him a bad pick. But, some teams may prefer to swing more for the fences, especially early on in the draft.
NBA Player Comparison
Jrue Holiday. Holiday, 6-foot-5, has a similar frame and is defensively stout like Wallace. Both players are lockdown defenders and lengthy enough to switch to other positions when needed. Wallace and Holiday are combo guards with experience playing either guard position. At UCLA, Holiday played in the same backcourt as Darren Collison.
Holiday’s resume and accolades don’t give his talent enough justice, as he’s one of the most underrated All-Stars in the NBA. He’s a two-time All-Star, two-time All-Defensive First Team, two-time All-Defensive Second Team, and 2021 NBA Champion with the Bucks. In his NBA career, Holiday averages 16.4 points, 6.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.5 steals on 46/37/78 shooting splits.
Holiday only averaged eight points per game during his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers and has steadily progressed his offensive skill set since. Wallace could follow a similar NBA trajectory as someone who immediately impacts the defensive end but may need a few years to develop his offensive game, at least to the point where he can be considered a starter in the league.
Like Holiday, Wallace also has an underrated offensive game and improved throughout his season at Kentucky. However, he must continue progressing as a scorer and facilitator at the next level. Wallace projects as a point guard at the next level who can lock down the other team’s best guards. Having a lockdown defender at the guard position is crucial. Jrue Holiday displayed this in the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns, where he defended Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
NBA Draft Projection