Could Taylor Hendricks be the 3-and-D forward to push the Spurs into the modern era?

Mar 10, 2023; Fort Worth, TX, USA; UCF Knights forward Taylor Hendricks (25) in action during the
Mar 10, 2023; Fort Worth, TX, USA; UCF Knights forward Taylor Hendricks (25) in action during the / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Our Lucky Lotería Month on Air Alamo is well underway, and we have explored a couple of potential prospects for the San Antonio Spurs. While the 2023 NBA Draft is in less than two months, fans are holding their collective breath as they wait to find out whether or not their favorite franchise will take home the first overall pick.

Landing Victor Wembanyama would drastically alter the landscape of this organization. But there is always a chance someone other than the Silver and Black has the coveted golden ticket in the lottery sweepstakes. Though that would be a bummer, this class still has several tantalizing teenage talents, including Taylor Hendricks.

Freshman, 19.4 yrs. Taylor Hendricks. 455. player. . . 6'9", 210 lbs. PF


Taylor Hendricks was one of the steepest risers in this draft class, and he showed immense upside as a stretch-four, nailing 40.9% of his 132 catch-and-shoot three-point attempts. He has a quick, fluid, and high release on his jumper, with rapidly improving footwork that allowed him to bury shots when backpedaling into the corners or drifting into space.

While he is not a genuine movement shooter, Hendricks might have some potential as a pick-and-pop threat. He was comfortable setting picks and ghost screens and flowing into openings beyond the arc. The 19-year-old doesn't need much time to set up shop, and defenders can't afford to sag off him, or he will make them pay for leaving him open.

The freshman also showed flashes of becoming an effective pick-and-roll scorer, ranking in the 98th percentile as a roll man. Despite only having 25 possessions in that play type, Hendricks is a reliable screener who should keep improving in that department as he adds much-needed muscle onto his slender frame and gains invaluable in-game experience.

His effortless explosiveness and ability to sprint the floor will provide him off-ball utility at the next level. Hendricks is a solid cutter, an excellent lob target in the dunker spot, and engaged on the offensive glass as he soars for tip-ins and putbacks. He is incredibly dangerous in the open court and placed in the 95th percentile in transition offense this season.

Hendricks should be better at attacking off second-side actions since his floor spacing draws aggressive closeouts, but he paused too often on the catch and struggled to separate on straight-line drives. Despite trying the occasional floater or midrange jumper as a counter when sensing a helper rotating into the paint, he made those looks at a subpar clip.

Though Hendricks is a tremendous finisher when he has a clear runway to load for a dunk, he was atrocious below the rim in the half-court, shooting a disconcerting 40% on layups. He demonstrated poor touch in traffic and lacked the upper strength to play through contact, issues compounded by his overdependence on getting to his right hand.

The teenage forward isn't projectable as a self-creator in the NBA. He has an elementary handle and lacks comfort performing dribble combinations. When facing tight ball pressure, Hendricks sometimes gathered in a panic and committed turnovers. Perhaps his most glaring deficiency is how slow he transitions into his pull-up shots when getting to his spots.

With that said, Hendricks had promising moments as a face-up scorer. He froze a handful of defenders with jab steps, pump fakes, and vicious left-to-right crossovers that generated enough daylight or him to get downhill. The Central Florida product periodically put the rock on the deck for a 14-footer, but those were typically inefficient ventures.

Hendricks didn't receive many facilitating responsibilities, and he missed reads and was a beat late or inaccurate with his deliveries when he tried to make plays. Though he must speed up his decision-making process in the NBA, he notched some encouraging sequences as a short-roll, high-low, and extra passer in his lone college campaign.