Everything You Need To Know Grant Riller

Grant Riller is an elite three-level scorer who will be able to make an impact in a rotation from day one.

There have only been four players, three who were drafted, from the College of Charleston to ever play in the NBA. Grant Riller aims to be the fifth to do so as his scoring prowess makes him a lock for the first round in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Targeting older players from small basketball programs in the draft can be tricky. Often, they have a stunning season because they are mentally and physically more mature than their opponents. This advantage can misrepresent how they will translate to the NBA.

Frequently, players who fit this description drop to the second-round or even go undrafted because their future development is limited, and dominating lower-level talent as a grown man rarely impress the right people. However, we have seen plenty of examples (Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Fred VanVleet, etc.) of legitimate rotation contributors and sometimes stars.

Before you get too excited or aggressively roll your eyes or just stop reading altogether, no, I do not think that Grant Riller will reach the level of Damian Lillard. Ok, are we good? Wonderful. While Riller likely won’t achieve that rarified stratosphere where only the stars reside, he is one of the most lethal scorers in this draft who will have a long NBA career.

I frequently harp on the level of competition draft prospects face. I think it is important to factor it into the equation when evaluating a guy. This mindset has me cautious of guys like Aleksej Pokusevski and Leandro Bolmaro and even Riller, to some extent.

With Riller, though, the hesitation due to his opponents is fleeting. Once you move past the name on the front of the jersey, it is obvious how offensively talented Grant Riller is.

This season, Riller scored 1.03 points per possession (PPP) (89th percentile) and 1.279 PPP (91st percentile) when you factor in his assists, per Synergy. The situation is irrelevant for Riller; the odds are that he is going to score.

There were few players in the country this season who were better at navigating the pick-and-roll, and only two better with similar volume, this season than Riller. As the pick-and-roll ball-handler, Riller ranked in the 97th percentile with 1.109 PPP.

His ability to create space for a jumper or get to the rim or find an open teammate is astounding. He is masterful at manipulating the defense, change his pace, and controlling his body. His high level of comfort in these situations alone will get him playing time from the start.

In the below clip, we see Riller punish the defense for their lazy pick-and-roll coverage. Riller scored 0.963 PPP (83rd percentile) on all dribble jumpers and 1.167 PPP (85th percentile) from three this season. Essentially, that means the defense played this about as poorly as possible. As Riller dribbles off the screen, he recognizes that the defender is playing drop coverage and has zero intention of hedging. He knows his defender gets held up on the screen, so Riller promptly knocks down the three.

Riller’s scoring versatility and touch are not limited to his jumper. He was one of the best at-rim finishers in the country as he scored 1.357 PPP (88th percentile) around the rim and 1.069 PPP (92nd percentile) on runners.

As we can see below, Riller can get to the rim regardless of the situation using a myriad of moves. He has elite body control and change-of-pace dribble moves. He is both patient and deliberate in his movements, which continually keeps defenders a step behind.

Riller’s touch around the rim and ability to attack the rim will translate immediately and are magnified when he is operating out of the pick-and-roll. The way Riller uses a screen is akin to NBA veterans. When he dribbled off the screen and attacked the rim, Riller scored 1.378 PPP (93rd percentile).

Here, Riller immediately attacks after using the screen to perfection. After tightly dribbling off the screen, Riller attacks the screener’s defender, who is late to step up. This deliberate drive puts the defending big man off balance and on his heels. Riller quickly slithers back to his left hand, which forces the defender to switch his hips, slowing him down. Riller then hangs in the air, absorbs the contact, and finishes with his left.

Even when Riller doesn’t directly use the screen, he effectively uses it. I promise that’ll make more sense in a second. When Riller attacks the rim after dribbling away from the screen, he scores 1.647 PPP (96th percentile). He manipulates the defender’s positioning and expertly reacts if they beat him to a spot.

The below clip shows how Riller correctly reads the defense. As the screen comes, Riller’s defender tries to go over the screen far too early. Riller fakes that direction before quickly cutting back to his left to attack the lane his defender foolishly created. Once Riller gets into the lane, he is nearly impossible to stop. With a burst of speed, Riller attacks the rim and gets into the body of the defender. This move negates the defender’s shot-blocking ability and draws a foul while Riller uses his body control and touch to finish.

Whether he is looking to get to the rim or pulling up off the dribble, Riller’s scoring threat out of the pick-and-roll is incredibly high. Even though Riller is mostly viewed as a scoring guard, he is a quality playmaker out of the pick-and-roll as his team scored 1.028 PPP (70th percentile).

Riller won’t make the passes we will see from LaMelo Ball or Tyrese Haliburton or Killian Hayes, but his scoring gravity will create open chances for his teammates. When Riller passed to the roller, they scored 1.111 PPP (72nd percentile) and 1 PPP (71st percentile) when he found spot-up shooters.

Here, Riller does a perfect job of engaging both defenders after dribbling off the screen. As the opposing big man rotates too high to Riller, Riller calmly accepts the double team and turns back towards the lane. He reads the weakside defender who never tags the roller, instead rotates back to the wing, and then Riller feeds his big man for the dunk.

Again, Riller is engaged by both defenders after dribbling off the pick. He continues to attack, so the defense can’t reset and reads the weakside defender the whole time. This time, the weakside defender stays in the lane, eliminating the pocket pass or lob to the roller. However, he correctly identifies his open teammate in the corner and delivers a perfect pass to his shooting pocket for the open three.

This level of playmaking is all Riller will need to have a consistent roll. He doesn’t have to be an elite playmaker, but by making the right reads and using his scoring gravity to find open teammates, he will be much more than just a scoring guard.

Speaking of scoring, Riller is deadly when he’s given a screen to work with, but he’s almost as lethal in isolation. This season Riller scored 1 PPP (88th percentile) in isolation. He is very skilled at creating space off the dribble, attacking mismatches, and using high-level ball-handling to get to the rim.

From the start of the below clip, Riller’s defender is skittish. Riller initially uses a series of shot fakes and jab steps to destabilize his defender. He then feigns a drive before executing a step-back, which creates acres of space for him to knock down a jumper.

Riller’s defender was rightfully frantic about containing a potential drive. We saw numerous previous examples of Riller’s artistry of finishing at the rim. This ability doesn’t change in the slightest when he is in isolation situations.

Here, Riller sizes up his mismatch like a tiger lurking in the brush before a kill. Riller first uses a hang dribble and then a lightning-quick crossover that freezes his defender. This move gives Riller a nearly unobstructed path across the lane. Riller proceeds to absorb the contact and finish at the rim.

Most of Riller’s offensive impact will come when he has the ball. However, the beauty of his game is that he can play off-ball as well if he goes to a team with an already established larger playmaker. He rarely ran off screens in college, but he scored 1.256 PPP (96th percentile) when spotting up and 1.2 PPP (85th percentile) when shooting off the catch.

Riller’s offensive fit and scoring ability will translate naturally to the NBA. He is a great three-level scorer who is also a quality playmaker. Unfortunately, that is the only side of the floor Riller shines.

Defensively, Riller leaves a lot to be desired. His effort is minimal, he ball watches, and he has sloppy mechanics. Many of his inefficiencies can likely be linked to the massive offensive load he had to carry. Still, he will be continuously targeted on defense if he continues to bring the same level of effort.

In the below clip, Riller completely gets burned on a back door cut. From the start, Riller only has eyes for the ball. By the time he finally tries to relocate his assignment, his man has already vanished.

There are numerous examples of Riller getting beat in this fashion, which is concerning. This isn’t a fundamental issue correctable through coaching. It is purely a lack of effort which can’t be coached. Feel free to roll your eyes at that as you picture all of your past overenthusiastic youth coaches.

Here, even though the ball-handler makes a decent pass, Riller shows little to no effort. He is so slow to slide with his man that he never gets to the screen. As he slowly recovers to his man, he keeps his hands down the entire time, making the pass all the easier.

Finally, Riller combines his sloppy on-ball and off-ball defense into the same possession. The ball-handler initially drives, and instead of helping with a rotation or digging at the ball, Riller stands still and watches while spinning around. As the ball rotates back to his man, Riller lazily closes out with a very upright stance. This high stance makes him off balance and easily influenced by a simple jab step that sends him the opposite direction.

Going forward, Riller is going to help a team’s offense. His combination of three-level scoring and individual shot creation is one of the best in this class. Due to his age and defensive inefficiencies, Riller will likely go in the middle or late first-round.

Some great fits for him would be Philadelphia, Orlando, and Utah. He may be able to break into a few of those starting lineups because of his offensive prowess, but at the very least, he’ll provide a major spark off the bench.

Riller will cause a lot of headaches on the defensive end. He has lapses in effort and just tunes out for entire possessions. His offensive profile, though, is undeniable. His elite scoring and quality playmaking will keep him in the league for a long time. As far as first-round point guards go, there are few better than Grant Riller in the 2020 NBA Draft.

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