Trevor Keels entered Duke as a highly touted five-star combo guard out of Fairfax, Virginia, but he wasn’t originally considered to be a one-and-done prospect. However, he burst onto the college scene when he scored 25 points in his career debut against Kentucky, leading to Keels appearing in mock drafts as a first-round prospect, after not appearing on many draft boards (“Big Boards”) prior to his debut. While the massive jump in his draft stock seems to have been reactionary, Keels put together a very solid freshman season for the Blue Devils, which led to Duke product being the 42nd-overall selection in the 2022 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks.
For the most part, Keels’ freshman season was a success, as he was able to carve out a solid role, starting in 26 of the 36 games that he appeared in, alongside four first-round picks on Duke’s roster: Paolo Banchero, Wendell Moore Jr., Mark Williams, and AJ Griffin. Playing 30.2 minutes per game, Keels averaged 11.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists while shooting 42 percent from the floor. He also had a respectable player efficiency rating (PER) of 16.5, while making the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) All-Freshman Team.
|Wingspan:||6’7’’||Vertical:||24.5 inches (standing), 31 (max)|
|Shot Hand:||Right||Stats:||Click here|
Still 18 years old until late August, Keels is an excellent secondary playmaker, and has the potential to become a three-level scorer. He needs to get in shape to improve his athleticism, which will take time. However, New York can be a great place to oversee his development and conditioning. Keels already has a solid base with broad shoulders which he utilizes as a physical driver, so adding more of the right strength can bring that physical dribble attack to the pros. Additionally, he is a smart and solid playmaker who makes simple reads out of the pick-and-roll and can manipulate the defense. Given the Knicks’ plethora of young talent at the guard and wing positions, Keels will see time developing with their G-League team, the Westchester Knicks.
Keels has to improve his understanding of angles on defense. He generally plays aggressive and energetic on-ball defense, but is prone to getting beat off the dribble by quicker guards. However, he very much needs to improve his reads of and reactions to screens. Lacking awareness, he is consistently blindsided by picks. Additionally, in catch-and-shoot scenarios, he sometimes leaves too much room between himself and the shooter due to overstepping in the paint, making it difficult to recover and close out in time.
This July, Keels played on the Knicks’ Summer League team in Las Vegas and struggled mightily. Starting in all five of the teams’ games, the Fairfax native showed flashes of his defense by averaging 1.6 steals, but struggled in just about every other aspect. While he averaged 26 minutes a game, he produced just 5.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game while shooting a woeful 26 percent from the floor. Keels had an even worse showing from beyond the arc, shooting just 20 percent from deep.
The main concern about Keels is his conditioning. While he did not play in any scrimmage games at the NBA Combine, he did do the agility tests and went through all of the measurements, both of which were disappointing. He weighed in at 223.8 pounds, with a shocking 13.5 percent body fat, making him the heaviest guard at the combine. Likely as a result of being heavy, he tested poorly athletically, which is probably why he fell into the second round of the draft. Keels produced a 24.5-inch standing vertical jump and a 31-inch max vertical leap, both ranked last among guards. He also ranked last in the shuttle run with a time of 3.32 seconds.
Keels is a strong and sturdy combo guard who operates better with the ball in his hands as a secondary playmaker. Featuring a good motor, he runs the floor relatively well and can finish at the rim due to his strength. His main weakness is his below average athleticism in terms of speed, quickness and vertical explosiveness, but with a proper NBA training staff, it is something that can be improved. Keels also needs to work on his perimeter jump shot; he did not make a high percentage of his shots for any distance at Duke or in Summer League. Although his form looks pretty solid in general, he needs to get some more arc on his shots. Given his young age, it isn’t something that is too concerning at the moment.
As it stands, Keels has signed a two-way contract with the Knicks and will most likely spend a majority of his rookie season with their G-League affiliate. In the long run, Keels has a chance to crack an NBA rotation if he becomes a more consistent shooter and improves his awareness on defense. If not, he will likely spend most of his time as a star either in the G-League or overseas.
- Very effective as a scorer when handling in the P&R, ranking at the 88th percentile for PPP at Duke this past season; with the help of screens, he was able to have success as both a driver and mid-range jump shooter
- Willing to pass and has good vision:
- Had an assist-turnover ratio of 2.18
- Ranked at the 73rd percentile in points and assists per possession
- Ranked at the 96th percentile as a pick-and-roll handler for PPP, including the results of passes
- Hustles down the floor; ranked at the 74th percentile for PPP in transition
- Shows potential as driver; has the strength to absorb a lot contact and ranked at the 50th percentile for PPP with runners and floaters
- Plays with effort and aggression as an on-ball defender, and averaged 1.22 steals per game
- One of the younger players in his draft class (18), with lots of time to grow as a player
- Not very effective in ISO because he can’t create separation on his own; ranked at the 49th percentile for PPP
- Inefficient from three, shooting just 31 percent from downtown; ranked at 32nd percentile for PPP when spotting up
- Shot mechanics need improvement (jumpshot looks flat)
- Too heavy (13.5% body fat), which limits his overall athletic ability
- Lacks defensive awareness; struggles mightily with screens as a defender
- Very poor shot-blocker due to lack of length and verticality; averaged only 0.06 blocks per game at Duke
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements
Statistics used in our scouting reports come from RealGM.com (international stats), Sports-Reference.com (NCAA stats), and Synergy Sports Technology (special analytics), Other outside sources are noted with links to the source. Click here to see the statistical abbreviation key.