Obscured briefly by his decision to attend Mississippi State and overshadowed at times as Jabari Parker’s partner in crime at Duke, Rodney Hood heads into the 2014 NBA Draft as one of the more intriguing prospects and could land on either side of the lottery.
If looks really could kill, Hood might be a top-10 pick.
He has tremendous positional size at 6-foot-8 and possesses all of the prerequisites required of a polished wing in the NBA: smooth stroke from deep (third in the ACC with 42 percent proficiency from three-point range), solid mid-range game (43 percent on pull-up jumpers), attacking prowess, an ability to handle the ball in the halfcourt, not to mention a knack for scoring on isolation plays and getting to the charity stripe (eighth in the ACC with an 80.7 free throw percentage).
While Hood might not be an elite shot creator just yet, he definitely displayed the necessary IQ and selflessness to efficiently create offensive chances for both himself and his teammates at Duke.
Hood was asked to play out of position during his lone campaign with the Blue Devils, as Coach K favored a small-ball lineup on numerous occasions in 2013-14.
While his length and athleticism made him an absolute load to handle at the four, defensively bigger and stronger teams tended to exploit him on the block or in the paint.
In the NBA, that won’t be much of an issue, as Hood will likely be asked to defend against opposing shooting guards and small forwards.
The only problem is that the Meridan, Miss. native has yet to illustrate an adeptness to patrolling the perimeter. Although his frame would suggest otherwise, as a defender the short-armed Hood simply struggles to hold his own.
For a prospect that shows plenty of both at the offensive end, motor and toughness are not among his assets when it comes to the other side of the court.
There’s no reason to believe he can’t improve as a defender, but that growth might come down to desire more than anything else.
Hood checks off most boxes when it comes to being a lottery pick: experience against top-notch competition, understands the game, ready to play right away, notable length and impressive offensive mechanics.
Ultimately, though, to excel at the next level, Hood needs to grow into his body. The former Duke product could afford to add 15-20 pounds of muscle onto his somewhat lanky frame.
Combine that with a newfound appreciation for defense, and the former Duke product could really transform into a formidable, two-way player.
How he would fit with the Suns
Like a glove.
For now, the Suns would be more than wise to take a chance on Hood, even if he is more or less a one-way player at this point.
Assistant coach Mike Longabardi can certainly groom the 21-year-old into a useful defender in time, so that deficiency shouldn’t keep the organization from selecting Hood if he’s available at No. 14.
While this draft class has plenty of scoring swingmen — T.J. Warren, K.J. McDaniels and James Young — Hood would be an ideal selection in a system that celebrates credible shooters and talented transition players.
Hood undoubtedly is both of those things and has the tools to mesh with the backcourt dynamic of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic right away.
If a ready-made wing is what Suns general manager Ryan McDonough seeks in the 2014 NBA Draft, Hood should be considered a prime candidate.