2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Tony Snell

Today’s featured draft profile will be on the University of New Mexico’s mellow sharpshooter, Tony Snell. Nicknamed the “Silent Assassin” by the Lobos faithful, Snell prefers to let his game do the talking, enforcing that reputation with his impressive showing last season against George Mason where he ignited for 27 points on only 12 shots; including the game winning 3-pointer with 01.2 left in the game. What did Snell do after? Get right back on defense.

Birthday: 11/10/91 – Projected NBA Position(s): Shooting Guard/Small Forward - Class: Junior - Ht: 6-7 - Wt: 198 - Hometown: Riverside, CA

2012-13 Per Game Averages: 12.5 Points – 2.9 Assists – 2.6 Rebounds – 42.2 FG% – 39.0 3P% – 84.3 FT%

Snell's Pre-Draft Combine Results

Snell’s Pre-Draft Combine Results

Strengths

- Smooth shooting stroke with a high release that’s next to impossible to block

- Exceptional in catch and shoot situations

- Forces off-ball defenders to work/Skilled at using screens to get himself open

- Solid ball-handling and passing ability

- Deceptively athletic

- Impressive on-ball defender

Weaknesses

- Doesn’t look to attack the rim as much as he should

- Must add mass to prepare for the physical wings he’ll encounter in the NBA

- Isn’t much of a force on the boards

- Passive to a fault/Often guilty of deferring to teammates when he should be taking the shot

When Snell decided to forgo his senior year at New Mexico and declare for the draft, the response was overwhelmingly negative. Lobos fans were clearly upset to see their 2nd leading scorer walk out the door, but more than that, many believed that Snell simply was not ready for NBA level competition and was looking at this year’s weak draft class as his best shot at a 1st round selection.

While I’m usually the guy advocating that young players should use their collegiate careers as an opportunity to mature their games and bodies instead of leaving early, I don’t believe Snell is as much of a long-shot as most would have you think. After a strong showing at the pre-draft combine, teams are beginning to pay attention to Snell, and he’s steadily moving up draft boards into the late first round after initially being projected as a second rounder.

Snell’s shooting is his bread and butter, and when he sets his feet, can be absolutely deadly. His offensive game is surprisingly sleek for a guy his size, wasting no motion in spot up situations. Snell catches, squares up, and elevates in smooth succession. He also has fluid handles and uses them in combination with his shiftiness to get defenders off-balance. Snell doesn’t seem too keen on drawing contact and does most of his damage outside of the paint, but is dependable when he does go to the line.

But what really has NBA GM’s harping on Snell is his defensive upside. At 6’6, with a 7-foot wingspan and great reach, Snell already has most of the physical tools to be an upper echelon defender. With his quick feet, superb lateral quickness, and solid instincts, he can harass guards on the perimeter and if he continues to fill into his somewhat lanky frame, will be able to guard small forwards as well, although his rebounding will have to improve.

When I look at Snell and think of his ceiling, I see Oklahoma City’s Thabo Sefolosha. He’ll never be the guy that carries you, but he can be an excellent piece to the puzzle and build a career as a dependable role player. For a Knicks squad that loves the 3-point shot and struggled with their perimeter defense this season, Snell can definitely contribute as an always useful “3 & D” player at #24.

Follow Brandon on Twitter @Ayo_Rush