Scouting Report & Film Review: Moses Moody

Moses Moody is one of the best two-way wings in this draft. His combination of defense and shooting make him an enticing pick for any team.

Strengths: Shooting, defense, feel for the game, decision making, getting to the line, rebounding

Weaknesses: Ball handling, shot creation, athleticism, foot speed

Consensus Expected Draft Range: 10-20

Where I'd Draft Him: Mid to late lottery

Shades Of: Mikal Bridges, better shooting Royce O'Neale, Kevin Huerter

Best Team Fits: Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards

Moses Moody left a bad taste in fan's mouths with a disappointing tournament, but the Arkansas wing had one of the most productive seasons among all freshmen in the country. This season, Moody averaged 16.8 points, 1.6 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and one steal on 42.7/35.8/81.2 shooting splits. The young wing is a deadly shooter, excellent rebounder, and intelligent defender.

On the surface, Moody is a prototypical 3-and-D wing. However, that label is an injustice and limitation on what Moody can develop into. Moody is one of those players that the game naturally comes to. Moody likely won't turn into a perennial 20+ point-per-game scorer, but he will execute every level of the game at a high level and constantly make the right decisions.

Unfortunately, Moody's lack of athleticism and ball-handling limit how high his ceiling could be. Instead of developing into a perennial All-Star, Moody projects more as a high-end starter. In no way is this meant as an indictment because high-level role players are frequently what propel teams to championship contenders. While Moody has a lot of work to do to reach All-Star potential, he has all the tools to be a positive contributor on both ends for a long time.

Team Defense

While not the sexiest of traits, team defense is one of the most important areas a player can excel at. Good team defenders don't miss rotations, clean up their teammate's messes, and disrupt the opposition's offense. When you look at the best defenses in the league, they aren't filled with elite point-of-attack defenders. Instead, they are brimming with intelligent team defenders who execute defensive schemes at the highest levels possible. This later bucket is where Moody falls as a defender.

This season, Moody ranked in the 85th percentile of defenders overall in points per possession (PPP) and the 89th percentile defending spot-ups, per Synergy. He closes out well, is almost always in the right place, and has tremendous footwork.

Like all players, though, Moody isn't perfect with his off-ball defense. However, when Moody does make a mistake on a rotation, it is due to timing, not negligence. 

Below, Moody makes the rotation, but it allows his man to get an uncontested dunk. This is the correct rotation for Moody to make; he just went too early for it. Moody begins to rotate to the drive before the ball-handler has even crossed the three-point line. Moody's early movement gives the ball-handler an extra couple of steps to identify the open man in the dunker spot. It also doesn't help that Moody's teammate completely misses his rotation to the block to help cover for Moody.

Again, Moody is just a fraction late rotating down to the block. He makes the proper read and has the correct instincts; his timing is just slightly off.

Occasional missteps like these are inevitable, but with Moody, they are scarce. Instead, we usually see plays like the one below. As Baylor runs the middle pick-and-roll, Moody is guarding the corner shooter. Moody perfectly tags the roller, which takes away any at-rim threat, and Baylor responds accordingly by swinging it to Moody's initial man. Moody then closes out under control and runs his man off the three-point line without flying by. Moody proceeds to cut off two drives by staying between the ball and the rim and then contests an off-balance floater.

For most young players, executing the tag and then running their man off the three-point line would be sufficient. It would be good off-ball awareness combined with an excellent motor to ensure not giving up an open three. Moody overachieves, though, because he is unwilling to give up anything easy.

Again, Moody does an excellent job of disrupting what the offense is looking to do. The ball swings to the top of the key, and Missouri looks to drive. The ball-handler has an angle, but Moody is playing gap defense and takes it away. The ball-handler is forced to kick it out to Moody's man. Moody closes out, and the ball-handler attacks against Moody's momentum. Typically, this results in something positive for the offense. However, Moody's quick hip flip and perfect footwork allow him to rapidly recover and force the travel.

Here, Moody shows off how natural a disruptor he is given his instinctive positioning. Moody is initially positioned at the nail playing gap defense. The ball-handler comes off the screen, and Moody's man begins to clear out. Instead of abandoning their defensive philosophies and running tightly with his man, Moody stays in the gap while positioning himself to see and move with his man. Moody takes advantage of his man's poor sense of spacing and rotates at the last second to disrupt the lay-up.

Moody's defensive positioning is impeccable, but he isn't much of a defensive playmaker. Moody posted a steal percentage of 1.6 and a block percentage of 2.0. For reference, the NCAA leaders in both were at 5.4 and 15.3, respectively. Once you account for inflation given college competition, these numbers will likely be even lower for Moody in the NBA. 

A significant reason for these low numbers is likely due to Moody's lack of explosiveness and tendency to focus on positioning. We frequently see defensive playmakers are some of the more athletic players on the floor. They can gamble and recover better than most. Moody is not afforded this luxury, but that doesn't mean he can't wreak havoc with his length, positioning, and timing.

Fans often overlook team defense, but it is an essential trait to winning basketball. Moody will be a positive team defender from day one. He has excellent awareness, positioning, and instincts that any NBA defense will welcome.

On-Ball Defense

Moody's off-ball defense is exquisite, but his on-ball defense is more of a mixed bag. His instincts and fundaments are exceptional, but his athleticism limits his effectiveness. I know it's a played-out trope that "said prospect couldn't keep up with the fastest guys in the league," but it is a legitimate concern with Moody. Not the fastest guys, but any quick guards will give Moody some issues. He moves his feet really well and frequently beats ball-handlers to the spot. However, as we see below, a quick first step can leave Moody in the dust.

Another concern with Moody's on-ball defense is his screen navigation. Moody will be tasked with guarding some of the best opposing wings, which will mean he'll be put in a lot of pick-and-rolls. At Arkansas, Moody was tremendously inconsistent defending the pick-and-roll ball-handler as he ranked in the 50th percentile. Not an alarming number, but much worse than you'd expect for someone of his caliber. When the ball-handler dribbled off the pick, Moody's defense ranked in the 38th percentile. He excelled when the ball-handler attacked the rim in these situations (93rd percentile) because he used his length to recover and contest. However, when the ball-handler took a jumper, a decision requiring Moody to get through the screen quicker, Moody's defense ranked in the 6th percentile.

Moody doesn't currently have the strength to fight through screens effectively. He also hasn't mastered the craft of getting skinny to avoid them consistently. It's frustrating to watch because, as we can see below, he can do it. Moody mostly avoids the screen, which allows him to quickly recover and cut off the drive, forcing the kick out.

While Moody will be a limited defender due to his lack of explosiveness and will struggle on screens, there is a lot to be encouraged about. Like his team defense, Moody's instincts are sublime. He does a great job of anticipating where ball-handlers are going and frequently beats them to the spot. From there, Moody does an excellent job of walling up and always finds a way to get a decent shot contest.

Moody's lack of explosiveness is a concern, but there isn't much to be done about it. The most exciting part, for me at least, about Moody's defense is his footwork. As far as elite skills in this draft go, Moody's defensive footwork is near the top of the list. When combined with his instincts, it creates a menacing defender. 

Scoring

Moses Moody doesn't project to be a volume scorer, but Moody was a highly efficient scorer in his lone season at Arkansas. Overall, Moody scored 1.004 PPP, which ranked in the 83rd percentile. The majority of Moody's scoring came in an off-ball role.

Moody spent 29 percent of his possessions spotting up, where he scored 1.06 PPP (78th percentile). Overall, Moody shot 36.1 percent off the catch and scored 1.075 PPP (63rd percentile). These numbers dropped when Moody was guarded as he shot 33 percent and scored 0.98 PPP (54th percentile). When defenses were foolish enough to leave Moody open, he shot 45.3 percent and scored 1.364 PPP (80th percentile). 

Moody has an excellent shooting form with a stable base and a high, smooth, consistent release. The only gripe is Moody's tendency to dip the ball after catching it. This motion prolongs his release, giving defenders more time to close out, and increases the chances of variance in his mechanics. It is a tough habit to break but can make a world of difference. Just look at Duncan Robinson and Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting off the catch.

Besides haven excellent mechanics, Moody also has excellent spatial awareness, which allows him to relocate and find open pockets on the perimeter. Here, Moody executes the dribble handoff and settles on the wing. As his teammate initiates the drive, Moody recognizes that his defender is playing gap defense to help deny the drive. Instead of staying on the wing where his defender could easily recover, Moody quickly sinks to the corner for the open three. 

When Moody spotted up, he typically took a no dribble jumper and scored 1.298 PPP (83rd percentile). However, Moody also proved that he could attack closeouts, albeit on much lower volume, as he scored 1.038 PPP (76th percentile) when taking a dribble jumper after spotting up.

Here, Moody is probing the baseline, trying to find a weak spot in the zone defense. Moody slides to the corner, where he receives a kick out. Instead of taking a heavily contested jumper, Moody shot fakes which gets the rotating defender to bite. Moody takes a few dribbles in and knocks down the baseline jumper.

Again, Moody gets an easy basket by attacking the close-out. After receiving the post-kick-out, Moody shot fakes to dispose of the reckless close-out and then attacks the vacated space. As the help defender rotates for the charge, Moody jumps to the side and finishes with a floater.

Moody's spatial awareness and ability to shoot off the catch also shone when he ran off screens as he scored 0.949 PPP (57th percentile). He has a good pace running off screens. Moody also does an excellent job of squaring his shoulders and hopping into his shot.

A surprising area in which Moody struggled as an off-ball scorer was his cutting. Moody only cut 6.7 percent of the time and scored 1.029 PPP (30th percentile) when he did so. A significant reason for the lack of success is Moody's lack of bulk and explosiveness. He does an excellent job of timing his cuts and finding the open spaces, but he struggles to finish through contact once he gets to the rim.

Besides struggling to finish through contact, Moody also struggles to create off the dribble. His ball-handling is very rudimentary, and he rarely creates much space off the dribble. Moody lacks counter moves and doesn't have the strength yet to bully defenders. Moody is an excellent shooter, but his offensive impact will be extremely limited if he can't consistently create space. 

 Last season, Moody scored 0.823 PPP when shooting off the dribble (58th percentile). Moody recorded 62 possessions in this category and shot 38.7 percent. On the surface, these are ok numbers. However, given how good of a shooter Moody is, the hope would be for these to be higher. Moody struggling to create space against lesser athletes and defenders in college doesn't portend well for his on-ball creation in the NBA. Moody fails to bump defenders off their spots, picks up his dribble early, and doesn't have counter moves when defenders beat him to a spot.

Here, Moody again struggles to create a decent shot despite multiple attempts. The defender initially cuts off Moody's drive to the left, and Moody immediately picks up his dribble once he meets resistance. Moody finds an outlet, flares out to the wing, and resets for a second drive. Moody again gets into the lane, meets resistance, pivots away from the defender, and throws up a heavily contested jumper.

Even when Moody has a mismatch, he struggles to execute. Moody uses an awkward stutter-step step-back which should have created enough space for him to get the shot off. However, Moody's movement and shot release are incredibly slow, allowing the defender to recover and block the shot.

While Moody usually struggles to create space or relies exclusively on his length to get shots off, he has shown some flashes of on-ball creation. Here, Moody gets his defender backpedaling and counters with a step-back. He quickly organizes his feet, shoots with a quick release, and knocks down the jumper.

Moody is an excellent shooter and off-ball scorer. Unfortunately, his limited ball-handling limits how significant his scoring impact will be. Until his ball-handling improves, Moody will be limited as an ancillary scorer.

Passing

Moody doesn't project as a primary initiator, but it is becoming more critical for all players on the court to be good passers. This skill allows for a more creative and free-flowing offense. While Moody won't rack up many assists, he will make the extra pass and find open teammates. 

Moody sees the floor well and, like his defense, has an excellent understanding of floor spacing and player movement. Moody won't manipulate defenses with his eyes, but he is excellent at passing on the move and leading teammates to the rim when they cut off his drives. By attacking closeouts and rotating defenses, Moody will create many easy scoring opportunities for his teammates.

Outlook

Moses Moody is one of the most intelligent basketball players in this draft. He is an excellent all-around defender and efficient offensive player. Moody's combination of team and on-ball defense alone will make NBA teams intrigued. He makes the proper rotations, communicates well, and has excellent footwork. When you add in Moody's prolific off-ball shooting, you get a player NBA teams are desperate to add to their rotation.

The only limitations on Moody's ceiling are his lack of explosiveness and his rudimentary ball handling. Both of these flaws limit him the most on offense as he struggles to create off the dribble. Moody will never blow past defenders, but if he can add a few counter dribble moves to his arsenal, his scoring effectiveness will skyrocket.

Moses Moody's worst-case scenario is being a quality rotation 3-and-D wing. NBA teams are constantly searching for these players to round out their rosters. Given Moody's extraordinary basketball IQ, I expect him to be a high-end starter for a long time. If he can significantly improve his ball-handling, then an All-Star appearance or two isn't out of the question. Moses Moody will return lottery level production and should be taken in the lottery of the 2021 NBA Draft.

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