Two seasons ago, Nuni Omot barely stayed in Baylor’s rotation. But after some marked improvement his senior season, the former junior college player will get a shot to make an NBA roster during summer league play.
There are several reasons to believe he could actually make an NBA roster and last in the league.
We’ll take a look at Omot’s strengths and then turn to his concerns. Finally, we’ll close with a take on his NBA potential.
Omot revamped his shot from his junior to senior season. He simplified his form and didn’t quite turn as much on his shot. That allowed him to do a better job replicating his form. During his junior season, he hit just 33% of his 40 3-point attempts. He was even worse during conference play, with a 27% mark from deep. The form and arc led to some bad misses:
A man can change a lot in one year. And Omot did. With a simplified form, he made 112 triples at a 41% rate. Nobody shot better from beyond the arc in Big 12 play. There’s not much doubt he should be able to hit 3-point shots:
Omot’s shown three other nice 3-point skills. First, he does a wonderful job getting open. He exploited Kansas State’s focus on tagging the roller in pick-and-rolls. That left him a bevy of opportunities, and he moved well to ensure Manu Lecomte could find him, finishing the day 6-of-9 from deep. Second, he can hit shots that are contested. He’s not just somebody who needs space to get his looks; he found a way to make shots over Kansas’ well contested defense. Finally, he’s been able to make some looks off the dribble. Omot won’t just be a stand-still guy:
Omot’s best bet is as a small ball four. Baylor didn’t play him a ton at that position because Terry Maston, Jo Lual-Acuil and Tristan Clark gave the Bears a quality front-court. He’s likely to play a lot more power forward as the NBA focuses more and more on spacing.
That will make his screen setting important. The most popular action in the playoffs has been setting screens until a team can force the worst defender to get switched onto their best player, either off the ball or on the ball. At power forward, Omot should be in a good spot to set screens to force weaker defenders onto better offensive players. He can quickly set screens and communicate with teammates about off-ball action:
Omot also moves well after screen setting. He does a nice job hitting the defender when he needs to and springing open for looks. But he can also slip screens as well. Regardless of how teams want to defend the pick-and-roll, he has a plan, including flipping the screen:
Omot has a couple strong 2-point scoring skills. He hit 75% of his shots at the rim, per hoop-math, and was not afraid to put the ball down and try to score against or around contact:
Close out hard on him, and he’ll meet you at the rim:
The man also has a unique skill: a quality 2-point shot when well contested. Sometimes in life everything goes wrong. The second action on a play gets blown up or a player is wholly unaware of the shot clock. In those moments, there’s not much time to create. That’s where Omot can shine. He drilled 2-point step-backs against everyone:
Also, I will never not share this play. This man can score:
The night Nuni Omot became President: pic.twitter.com/j7OnYNP65g— Kendall (@kkaut) November 14, 2017
A few teams might worry that Omot lacks the lateral quickness and instincts to be a true 3-and-D wing in the NBA. His block and steal rates ranked relatively low, and he wasn’t asked to guard quicker guards too often in Baylor’s pick-and-roll schemes.
Omot’s advantage is that he has solid tools to defend. He does a nice job staying in a defensive stance and not biting too often on pump fakes. He led the Bears in win shares per 40 minutes and had the second best defensive rating among Baylor’s wings.
The biggest NBA concern I have is that Omot has to tighten his handle. At power forward, he won’t have to create against smaller players. But he’s struggled with pressure and creating in space. He had 12 turnovers in back-to-back games against Kansas State and West Virginia near the end of the season.
Almost all of Omot’s turnovers relate to his handle. He has to get better there and pass when facing pressure. I think there’s a good case that problem relates to creating way more as a senior than he did as a junior. But he’s going to need to show he can greatly reduce his turnovers during summer league.
Omot has a real shot to break into the NBA. Despite turning 24 this season, he’s only played a season and a half (he missed the first semester of his junior year after transferring from junior college) of major high school or college basketball. As a late developer, his feel and adjustment to the speed of the game leaves him some room to grow, even at his older age.
The NBA has become a 3-point league. An 85% free throw shooter that makes 41% of his 3-point shots is incredibly valuable in today’s game. With his 6—foot—9 height, and ability to make against tough closeouts and off the dribble, he should be able to rain threes at the next level.
Predicting who makes it professionally is always difficult. Omot won’t be drafted on Thursday, but he’s shown real tools to one day reach the NBA. That day may not be too far away.