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KJ Simpson 2024 NBA Draft Profile

KJ Simpson is one of the most exciting guards in this year's NBA draft.

KJ Simpson is one of the most intriguing and exciting guards in this year’s NBA draft. Simpson’s incredible March Madness run shot him up draft boards. The Colorado product has a well-rounded skill set that could allow him to make an instant impact in the NBA. Let’s analyze Simpson’s game and figure out his place in this draft class. 

KJ Simpson 2024 NBA Draft Profile

College Career 

Simpson spent his entire college career playing for the Colorado Buffaloes. He quickly ascended to become one of the top players in the Pac-12. As a freshman Simpson averaged 7.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists on .438, .254, and .770 shooting splits. Simpson was a key reserve on a 21-12 Colorado team and he was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. As a sophomore Simpson took on the starting role and elevated his game. He averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on .457, .276, and .817 shooting splits. This massive scoring jump and all-around improvement established Simpson as one of the elite guards in the Pac-12.

As a result, Simpson was named to the All-Pac 12 team. In his junior season, Simpson exploded averaging 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists, on .475, .434, and .876 shooting splits. This was the most team success of Simpson’s college career Colorado went 26-11 and earned the 10 seed in the NCAA tournament. Simpson was surrounded by a seasoned core of consensus first-round pick Tristan Da Silva, and versatile big man Eddie Lampkin. Along with projected lottery pick and high-upside freshman wing Cody Williams. Colorado beat Boise State in their play-in game before upsetting Florida in a 102-100 thriller. Notably, Simpson hit a mid-range jumper to secure the win for Colorado. They eventually fell to Marquette in a close four-point game. However, Simpson was brilliant averaging 20.7 points, 7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in the tournament. 

Strengths

Simpson is a creative scorer and smooth playmaker who frequently operates out of the pick-n-roll. He is a pinpoint-accurate passer capable of making a variety of passes. Simpson is a high-level shot-creator who always takes what the defense gives him. This skill set allows Simpson to score in a multitude of ways including off-the-dribble, catch-and-shoot, at the rim. Simpson has lightning-quick speed which he uses to consistently pressure the rim. He is also a difficult shotmaker who hit tons of timely shots for Colorado. Simpson pairs this with a tight handle which benefits him as both a playmaker and scorer.

Impressively Simpson is an excellent rebounder for his size.  He is also a high-effort defender who plays the passing lanes well; he notably averaged 1.8 steals per game for his college career. Simpson’s knack for rebounding and hustle plays might allow for him to get consistent minutes. He is also an elite off-ball player capable of cutting and shooting off screens. Simpson simply does all of the little things right.

The constant improvement Simpson displayed throughout college will also make NBA teams optimistic about how his game translates. Aside from the raw scoring jump and massively improved shooting, Simpson’s playmaking improved each year. From his freshman to junior year, Simpson’s turnover percentage dropped from 22 to 11.9 while his assist percentage improved from 25.2 to 27.1. At the combine, Simpson had the fastest lane agility time and posted a 40-inch vertical. While he’s not a traditional jump out of the gym athlete Simspson’s combination of speed and bounce will serve him well at the next level.  

Weaknesses 

While he’s a high-energy defender at 6’0” and 185 pounds Simpson will constantly be targeted defensively. He has a high basketball IQ and is very agile. If these skills can translate Simpson could end up being a serviceable NBA defender. However, this remains a massive question mark given Simpson’s size.

Despite being a 43 percent three-point shooter as a junior, Simpson’s shooting is concerning given his first two seasons. He shot 27 percent as a sophomore and 25 percent in his freshman year. Simpson’s shot translating is a must for a successful career. There’s limited to no space in the NBA for an undersized point guard who struggles to shoot. Simpson is certainly a skilled passer but he also makes plenty of risky passes. At the NBA level Simpson will have to be more of a cautious facilitator. As a 21-year-old junior Simpson doesn’t have the same upside as some of the higher-end prospects. 

NBA Comparison 

While it’s not a perfect comparison, a smaller point guard version of Brandin Podziemski is fitting. Both Simpson and Podz are well-rounded guards with a knack for rebounding. Additionally, Simpson’s shifty speed and playmaking abilities are similar to that of Dennis Schroder. These two players are vastly different however, shades of Simpson’s game can be found in both. It’s unclear if Simpson will even reach this level of production. Nevertheless, the play styles between Simpson and these players are quite similar. 

2024 Draft Projection 

Early-second round.

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