Projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick, Josh Christopher is a dynamic shooting guard who has a strong frame and very good length. As a freshman this past season with the Arizona State Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.0 combined steals and blocks per game.
Prior to his stint at Arizona State, Christopher played at Mayfair High School, and entered college as the 12th-ranked high school prospect in the nation. With the prestige of an elite shot maker, he garnered excitement nationwide for his elite play in high school. At Mayfair, he averaged 29.4 points per game (PPG), 11 rebounds per game (RPG), and more than five combined steals and blocks per game.
|Position:||Shooting Guard||Team/Class:||Arizona State (Fr.)|
|Height:||6’4’’ (6’3.25” w/o shoes)||Weight:||215|
|Wingspan:||6’9.25”||Vertical:||29.5” Standing, 37.5” Max|
|Shot Hand:||Right||Stats:||Click here|
Christopher at ASU
Christopher was too quick for PAC-12 wings and too strong for guards, while demonstrating encouraging offensive touch from all three levels. He is a powerful athlete that excels in transition situations, ranking at the 91st percentile for points per possession (PPP) this season. The freshman has one of the more advanced offensive toolboxes in this year’s draft class, featuring wild reverse layups, confident floaters over multiple defenders, and hop steps through double-teams. Overall, his shooting numbers leave a lot to be desired (.432/.305/.800), but his free-throw percentage is encouraging. He played only 15 of 24 available games due to a back injury according to TheAthletic.com, which certainly hurt his chances to improve on those percentages.
Shot Selection and Team Context
Given his ability to consistently get to his spots, shot making off of self-creation is where Christopher’s potential lies. This season, his numbers for off-the-dribble jumpers were at the 29th percentile for PPP, averaging 0.648 points per possession. Simplifying his game is the key for better efficiency, as there was a consistent correlation between shot selection and total dribbles; in other words, the more dribbles that he took typically led to a tougher look. Finding a happy medium between maximizing his shot creation and limiting overdribbling will be essential for whichever NBA team selects him. To be fair, Arizona State did not have much cohesion between their backcourt creators; Alonzo Verge and Remy Martin are anything but pass-first guards. There was minimal off-ball movement to pair with drivers, and many half-court possessions stagnated within the first eight seconds. The same could be said of Christopher, a product of his environment, who rarely looked to create for others, posting 1.4 assists to 1.7 turnovers a game (A/T of 0.81).
Christopher would benefit more than most prospects with more half-court space, where he can more efficiently get to his spots. Mid-range jumpers are what Christopher tends to settle on, even though his greatest strength is getting inside. While he converted a more-than-respectable 55.6 percent of his at-rim attempts via drives, I believe that congested driving lanes made his shot attempts tougher. On paper, he should excel around the rim given his powerful frame. In transition is when his strength around the rim pops; he finished this season at the 99th percentile as the lead ball-handler in those situations.
On the opposite end of the court, Christopher should be able to handle bigger guards and smaller wings. He is not an elite overall athlete, and smaller guards will get by him, as his hips do not open quick enough to match their speed. Another issue is navigating around screens to the degree that you would like for someone as strong and coordinated. His plus-six wingspan can bail him out on the late recoveries and even creates turnovers when he is tuned in. On the other hand, he tends to gamble for steals, often leading to interior penetration. However, his greatest issue is consistently committing to defend. Many times, he gets blown by and accepts the fact, rather than fighting to make the extra impact on the live possession.
Off the ball, Christopher has great potential as a weak-side help defender. Due to his frame and vertical pop, he can be a brick wall for incoming drivers. What kept him from being elite here is his consistency with awareness. Far too many times, he ball watched, leading to a wide-open backdoor cut.
Christopher must mitigate the awareness and effort issues if he wants to make a legitimate impact at the next level.
There’s the possibility Christopher will be only a bench rotation piece, but he has the upside of a legitimate starting wing. The key to success for the freshman is two objectives, along with three ancillary skills. He needs to simplify his game by minimizing overdribbling, resulting in tough jumpers. Secondly, he needs to improve his defensive off-ball awareness; due to his quick vertical leap and long wingspan, he could be a legitimate defensive presence. At times, he does fall asleep on backdoor cuts or blowing a rotation. This can be due to a few things, typically miscommunication, but other times lack of effort. It really depends on the coaching environment; within the right culture, he could develop into a consistently alert player. There are three other lesser goals that will open his game even more: lowering his hips on crossovers, maintaining transition pressure through securing defensive rebounds, and attacking the rim more consistently.
- Transition scoring due to a strong frame and smooth handle; in overall transition, averaged 1.373 points per possession, ranking at the 91st percentile (59 possessions), and as the lead ball handler, averaged 1.552 PPP (99th percentile)
- Isolation scoring — a crafty ball handler who can get to wherever he wants on the perimeter; it’s just a matter of becoming more efficient with his moves; averaged 0.842 PPP in isolation (51st percentile on 19 possessions)
- Rim attacking potential — on drive attempts within seven feet, made 56 percent of his shots this season
- Pick & Roll handling potential — does fine perceiving what is directly in front, but could use more repetition; overall as pick-and-roll handler averaged 0.78 PPP (60th percentile on 41 possessions), and was even better when including the results passes (86th percentile, 1.019 PPP on 54 possessions)
- Touch on short jumpers is very encouraging when he turns the corner; on jump shots within 17 feet, he averaged 0 .84 PPP (63rd percentile on 25 possessions)
- Productive from the free-throw line; fouled on 14.2 percent of his possessions, and converted 80 percent of his foul shots
- Defensive upside — has a great frame (215 pounds and a six-inch difference in wingspan to height), and when locked in, he is fearless using his chest contesting at-rim attempts
- Spot-ups — much more comfortable dribbling into a shot than off the catch; on no-dribble jumpers in spot-up situations, averaged 0.821 PPP (24th percentile on 28 possessions) vs. 1.091 PPP on dribble jumpers via spot-ups (81st percentile on 11 possessions)
- Off the catch — this is related to the item above; in guarded situations, ranked at the 80th percentile (1.172 PPP on 29 possessions) vs. ranking at the 0th percentile when unguarded 0.231 PPP on 13 possessions), going 1 of 13 on field-goal attempts
- Jumper efficiency from the mid-range and beyond — in the half-court, must improve, which ultimately comes down to how he reads the floor; on jumpers between 17 feet and the 3-point line, averaged 0.455 PPP (12th percentile), and on 3-point attempts, averaged 0.882 (34th percentile)
- Off-ball efficiency — cut, hand-off, and off-screen plays accounted for 15.5 percent of his possessions, and he struggled being decisive on these off-ball actions, making a measly 25 percent of his shots
- Offensive decision making, combined with sub-optimal team spacing, hurt Christopher’s raw percentages — needs to get better at making decisions under pressure
- Defensive effort and awareness — tends to lack awareness on cutters, must mitigate situations where he is caught ball-watching, and has to fight harder to stay with his man on screens
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements
Stats used in our scouting reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Some background information and the photo were courtesy of Arizona State Athletics. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.