In Thursday’s NBA draft, the Bulls selected Tony Snell with the 20th overall pick. What do we know about Tony Snell, and how does he fit in? Let’s review what we know, and speculate his short and long-term roles on the Bulls roster.
Height: 6’6″ (6’7 1/4″ with shoes)
Weight: 198 lbs
Snell’s position is a SG/SF, which is basically the kind of 2’s that the Bulls seem to love under Thibs. When asked, Tony said he is more of a SG, and is more comfortable as a two-guard in the NBA. After reviewing his game style, you can easily see why he considers himself more of a guard than a forward by his footwork and roles played.
Defense: Snell is a long player. Good hands, has the ability to stay in front of his man. His defense is pretty standard at this phase, but what makes him stick out, is his ability to read passing lanes well. He tips a lot of balls and does an excellent job of defending ball movement above the waist.
His zone ability needs a lot of work. But to be fair, any rookie coming into Coach Thibodeau’s scheme will have to start from scratch. The Bull’s are hoping his solid work ethic will allow him to absorb the Bulls culture. He moves well on both sides, but neither at an NBA level. Also, Snell has tendencies to lean into his opponent, which could result in a rough rookie year of getting into foul trouble quickly.
His defensive movement in traffic is sub-par and a contributing reason for his weak rebounding numbers. While he has the height and length of an NBA player, he lacks the strength to be reliable on both ends of the court. He does make up for his lack of strength, with good decision making and moments of explosive athleticism.
Offense: He can make any shot on the court as long as he has some space. As of now, he grabbed national attention for being the best catch and shoot player in the tournament. His consistent shooting continued throughout the combine and in pre-draft workouts.
Snell’s ball handling has many fundamental flaws that will be exposed early and often. However, he can handle the ball when needed. His ball handling issues can be corrected, such as rhythmic patterns, high dribbles, and an elbow tuck that is seen as a ‘tell’ which gives away some of his direction changes.
As a passer, he has good hands. He can adjust his passing direction in motion, throws catchable balls, and has good awareness of player movement. However, as a rookie and a guy that is going from a system that passes out before in, to a system that passes inside much more often, expect Snell to make a lot of mistakes.
If Snell gets comfortable in the NBA, we should see some exciting 4th quarters from him. He is a decent shooter early in games and he heats up late in close games.
Among teams showing interest in Snell, were the Sacramento Kings. According to interviews with their staff, Snell was one of their targets. Why is this important? I don’t want to read too much into it, but one point, the Kings are very good at scouting talent at the guard position. Another interesting consideration, Tyreke Evans being a RFA. I wouldn’t read too much into the second point, but if the Bulls were considering options then Snell could wind up being a trade chip.
Welcome to Chicago, Tony.