Teams looking for an elite playmaker should be looking at Gonzaga’s point guard.
With 115 starts in 131 collegiate games at Florida and then Gonzaga, Andrew Nembhard is one of the most experienced prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft pool. Of course, in the twisted eyes of the NBA, those figures could also be seen as a negative because they indicate that at 22 years old, Nembhard is on the “older” side and closer to being a fully realized basketball prospect with less potential to be unlocked. While that may be true, it definitely should not be a negative in the case of Nembhard.
The tape doesn’t lie—Nembhard is a clinical operator of the pick n’ roll with the vision, basketball IQ, and passing ability to rival any of Gonzaga’s vaunted line of point guards. That skill alone should elevate his draft stock to first round consideration in light of the importance of capably running that action in the NBA and Nembhard’s legitimate claim as the best pick-n-roll point guard in his draft class. I’d be stunned if coaches and scouts at the next level didn’t love what they see from Nembhard in terms of his pure point guard play, particularly after he stood out in scrimmages at the NBA Combine.
Nembhard isn’t an elite shooter, but he also made enough strides in that department after arriving at Gonzaga where it’s no longer a liability (30.8% 3PT% on 104 attempts as a sophomore compared to 38.3% on 133 attempts as a senior). He also bumped up his free throw conversion rate by more than 10% as a senior (87.3%) compared to his first three years in college (76.5%). He definitely took a major step forward over the last 12 months although critics will see his low release point and inconsistent arc and be skeptical about how his mechanics play at the next level.
Nembhard was fundamentally sound on the defensive end but he also wasn’t a defensive stopper. Perhaps we’ll see natural improvement from him in that respect since he won’t be tasked with playing 40 minutes a night and running the offensive show when he gets to the league. Of course, he’ll be defending much better athletes too, so he’ll have to step up his game and be more consistent at that end to earn playing time as a rookie.
From a physical standpoint, Nembhard has good size for the point guard position at 6’5” though he doesn’t possess an absurdly long wingspan (which NBA scouts love) or the explosiveness and finishing ability at the rim which made former running mate Jalen Suggs a bona fide top-5 pick. But those things won’t hold him back from getting drafted and he should be squarely in consideration for teams drafting late in the first round or early in the second based on his placement in various Big Board rankings.
The Athletic recently polled executives on the guards in this draft class, and here’s what two executives had to say about Nembhard:
Western Conference Executive No. 5: Gets drafted for sure. He’s a good player and would be surprised if he didn’t end up as a winning NBA player. (Malcolm) Brogdon would be the high-end comp. Andrew is good.
Western Conference Executive No. 3: He played well in the second game in Chicago. Does what he does. Crafty guy. If you want the crafty guy who can make some shots, you probably take Nembhard.
Nembhard most recently worked out for the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors, which hold picks at No. 30 and No. 33 respectively, and could be intriguing landing spots. But any team looking for an elite playmaker who is mature and ready to play right away should be taking a hard look at Nembhard, and we’ll find out soon enough which jersey he’ll wear next when the draft takes place on June 23.