Articles

DJ Stephens

 

DJ Stephens

 

Memphis Tigers                   Senior                                    Small Forward                      #30

 

6'5"                 190 Pounds                22 Years Old             From: Kileen, TX

 

7.6 PPG          6.6 RPG          0.7 APG          2.6 BPG          62.9 FG%       36.1 3P%

 

Overview: Stephens has made a name for himself as most likely the most athletic basketball player in the NCAA. He has filled up impressive highlight reels for himself with his amazing dunks and vicious blocks. He also improved his stock dramatically with a very impressive showing in the NCAA Tournament. He plays with a tremendous motor and is more than willing to sacrifice his body for his team. He was not invited to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament which means that he has a lot of work to do in individual workouts and interviews in order to garner second round interest.

Stephens' offensive game can best be described as raw. His best asset, as previously noted, is his athleticism. He has a very quick first step which he often uses to blow by his defender. He is explosive enough that he doesn't need much daylight in order to spring up towards the hoop. He is a great finisher at the rim, specifically above the rim, and he has been known for some absolutely spectacular dunks during his time at Memphis. Despite being a very great athlete, he has a tremendous amount of trouble with regards to creating a shot for himself. He doesn't have a very good jump shot. His mechanics are inconsistent and his elbows have a tendency to flare out when he's raising up to shoot the ball. He did shoot about 36% from behind the arc on 1 attempt per game. Make no mistake about it, Stephens' best chance at scoring is by slashing to the hoop. Despite his athleticism and his explosiveness, he doesn't have tremendously impressive ball handling skills, though they have improved during his time at Memphis. Stephens is very active off of the ball, typically cutting around and his athleticism and quick bursts often allow him to burn by his man and get an easy basket near the hoop. That said, in the NBA, until he develops a better jump shot, his matchup will simply sag off of him and force Stephens to punish the defense with a jumper.

On defense, all of Stephens' natural gifts benefit him greatly. First off, he is an extremely versatile defender. While he projects as a shooting guard/small forward prospect at the NBA level due to his size, he often defended the opposing team's power forward in college. He is a tenacious defender who likes to be aggressive. Occasionally this leads to foul trouble or occasionally getting burnt, specifically off the ball. That said, he can really contest shots and make life difficult for his matchup. He does a great job of keeping his matchup in front of him. He has a wide, low stance and his lateral quickness allows him to cut off penetration lanes. He ran into some issues at Memphis when he played the 4 and got posted up by significantly bigger matchups, but that won't be as much of an issue in the NBA. His athleticism and lateral quickness make him a very good help defender within a team scheme. He swatted 2.6 shots per game his senior season at Memphis; a lot of them came off of weak side rotations, where he helped one of his teammates defend a guy in the post. Lastly, he plays this side of the ball with full effort all the time. He is frequently diving on the floor and fighting for 50-50 balls. This is a good sign moving forward to the NBA level. He also rebounds quite well for his position. He gets a lot of his rebounds on pure athleticism and quick jumping rather than textbook boxing out form, but it works for him and he can be a high energy guy around the hoop, which can at times create second chances for his team offensively.

Overall, Stephens has transformed himself from a recruit that Josh Pastner took out of desperation to one of the most intriguing draft prospects entering this upcoming draft. He possesses out of this world athleticism, but doesn't have much in the way of any real offensive skills outside of his ability to jump out of the building. His shot has improved, but it still has a long way to go before it can become consistently effective for him. That said, he projects well as a defensive player given his aggression, length, and quickness. He's certainly a project, and the main question will be whether or not teams are willing to bring in a 22 year old project. He could be worth a shot as a late second round pick. More likely though, he'll be a player that most teams will covet for their summer league teams and training camp rosters, hoping he can develop into something more.

 

 

 

Key Strengths:

·      He is one of the most explosive players in the country. He may be able to win an NBA dunk contest right now.

·      His defense is very good. He plays extremely hard on this end of the court.

·      Stephens has improved dramatically during his four years at Memphis.

·      His athleticism allows him to be a very good on ball and help defender.

·      He is a versatile defender.

 

Areas to Improve:

·      He has no legitimate way to create scoring opportunities for himself. His jumpshot is not very good and he is not an ISO scoring threat.

·      His aggression can work against him on defense as he is foul prone.