2020 draft age: 22
Measurements: 6’6” / 195lb
Advanced Stats: 20.8 AST% / 13.7 REB% / 1.3 STL% / 2.0 BLK %
121.9 OFF RTG and 97.3 DEF RTG for a +24.6 NET RTG
61.3 TS% on 27.1 USG%
Background: Played in high school at Tampa Prep… All-State player… Played 4 years at North Dakota State… Only Bison with 1500 points, 700 rebounds, and 250 assists… Started all 33 games his senior year… Named All-Summit League first team…
Personality: Teammates voted him as the most talkative player on the team… Wears #24 because of Kobe Bryant… Extremely honest and self aware of his own ability… First player on the court to hype up his teammates…
Injury History: No injury history… Didn’t miss a single game at NDSU…
Athleticism: Needs to put on muscle if he wants to play small forward… Can get vertical when he has time to load… Finished 13 dunks this season… Laterally quick… Extremely long wingspan…
Projected Fit: 3&D shooting guard with potential to create out of the mid post…
Projected Draft Landing: Undrafted… Summer League signing…
High: Ward is a NBA sixth man and fringe starter. He excels as a 3&D player with the ability to create through passing. He puts on muscle and has the ability to exploit mismatches in the post with his spin move and hook shot. He has grown as an offball shooter who can run off screens. His added strength has helped him to improve defensively. He reads passing lanes well and uses his length to secure steals. He is a very good rebounder for a guard, with his DR% staying around 15-20% for his career. He can really push the ball in transition. He excels in the locker room as a glue guy who cares about his teammates. His game translates to most NBA rosters and can contribute to a winning team.
Medium: Ward is an NBA roleplayer off the bench who spent time in the G League initially. He is known for being a great teammate with a very versatile skill set. He may not excel at one specific skill, but is extremely well rounded. He is a wing who spends most of his possessions in catch and shoot or post up situations. Most of his value comes on defense as a versatile defender who can guard the 1-3. He reads passing lanes well, but doesn’t provide value as a rim protector. He rebounds well for a guard, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Ward excels as a G League success story.
Low: Ward is a career G League / International player. His shot doesn’t translate because of his unorthodox release, and his loose handle hurts his ability to create shots for himself. His role is more of a facilitating guard with lackluster scoring ability. His ability to find others for open shots is a vital part of his game. He is a high energy player who can clean up plays on the glass. Defensively, he’s good in isolation, but gets beat off P&R due to his frame. He doesn’t offer much as a team defender due to marginal rim protection skills and not being athletic enough to get steals in passing lanes. Ward is an excellent locker room player , but doesn’t have the shooting or athletic ability necessary to get baskets around the rim.
Finishing: Tyson is a good finisher around the rim. He can get above the rim in transition or when he has an open lane, finishing with 13 dunks this season. Over his 4 years at NDSU, he was a career 64.5% shooter at the rim. He has an array of moves from the post, including his left hand hook, baseline spin to a layup from either side, and fadeaway jumper from the midpost. His left hand hook is his go to when he gets a mismatch in the post. In the game against Marquette this year, Ward showed his ability to finish at the rim off ball screens against top D1 talent. He did this by getting downhill on straight line drives. Ward was also good at drawing fouls on drives. He had a FTr of 0.397, which is above average for a collegiate athlete.
Passing: Ward is an extremely underrated passer. He averaged 2.8 AST/G, but Ward led his team in AST%. His AST% increased from 9.6% to 20.8% from his freshman to senior year. He also managed to decrease his TO% from 20.9% to 12.7% over the same time period. This shows incredible growth over his time at NDSU. The best example of his passing was the game at Purdue Fort Wayne. He was double teamed during every possession in the post, and he consistently hit the cross court pass with pressure. He has great vision, with an eye for cutters and making the extra pass. In the P&R, he is good at finding the roll man with a pass over the top. One of the only downsides of his passing ability is that he will jump before looking for his pass at times.
Improvement in Shooting: Ward has a rather unorthodox shooting form, but he keeps it consistent. He doesn’t jump on his jumpshot, but he has an above average release speed. His TS% increased every season, ending at 61% in his senior year. His splits went from 50.0/37.1/67.9 (2PT% / 3PT% / FT%) to 56.3/41.0/77.8 from his freshman to senior year. He ended the season extremely hot from downtown. Over his final 4 games he shot 12 for 20 (60%) from the 3 point line and 23 for 24 (95.8%) from the free throw line. He projects as an above average to good shooter at the NBA level.
Areas of Improvement:
Ball Handling: Ward needs to improve his ball handling if he wants to be a lead guard at the professional level. He shared ball handling duties in high school, but spent most of his time in college as a 3 or 4 due to his height and ability to slash. He is capable of using his handle to get downhill in straight line drives, but didn’t show much in terms of being a professional lead guard, at least immediately. He has a good crossover and hesitation move with his left hand. He didn’t show off many complex dribble combinations during his time at NDSU. The majority of his turnovers weren’t from his ball handling ability, but from jumping on passes, offensive fouls, and poor footwork leading to travels.
Shooting In Motion: There was very little film of Ward running off of screens or really shooting off any motion. The few times he was ran off of screens, it was directly to the corners. This allowed Ward to sort of step back into the shot. His footwork may be an issue running off screens because he takes time to square up to the basket. His shooting ability relies a lot on his feel for the game and rhythm. This is one skill that we will need to see Ward show in workouts and Vegas Summer League.
Isolation: Ward is a good defender in isolation. He closes out well, chopping his feet with high hands while staying balanced. In my film breakdown with Ward, he gave credit to his AAU basketball team for this part of his game. He is great at recovering and bodying up his man if he gets beat off the dribble. The one negative about his ability is that he has a tendency to open up his hips at times. Putting on muscle will help him because he can take that contact and not budge. From a numbers perspective he wasn’t the best in isolation, allowing 0.95PPP. He did show great potential in this area and was always locked in. With some time in the weight room and learning NBA techniques, he could be a good on ball defender.
Rebounding: Ward is statistically one of the best defensive rebounding guards in this class, behind only Tyler Bey. He had a defensive rebounding percentage of 20.1%. He doesn’t rebound above the rim much, but has great timing and a quick second jump. He rebounds well in traffic. His rebounding percentage would translate to the best in the NBA for players under 6’7”.
Team Defense: Ward is an underrated team defender. His defensive advanced stats don’t jump off the page with 1.3 STL% and 2.0 BLK% along with 1.7 defensive win shares. His low steal percentage is due to the NDSU defensive philosophy of a pack line defense. They were one of the best rebounding teams in the country and one of the worst at getting steals. They do not gamble. He showed discipline in passing lanes, did a great job of digging on the post and forcing passes out of scoring position. Ward contributed as a vocal leader for this team as well. His teammates voted him as the most talkative player on the team. He constantly calls out defensive coverages and P&R reads.
Areas of Improvement:
Rim Protection: Ward just doesn’t have the physicality to protect the rim. He is only 6’6” and doesn’t have the weight to push in the post. If Ward gets switched onto a bigger forward or a center, he gets pushed under the basket. He has trouble at times falling for pump fakes in the restricted area. When forced in rotations to guard the rim, he needs to stay disciplined. He won’t stop a bruiser in the post and just needs to either hold them off until he can get help or just wrap up for the foul and live to see another day.
P&R: Ward gets stalled up by screens frequently. His issue is specifically going over screens. When he gets caught up, he gets stuck behind his man and doesn’t have the straight line speed to recover. At the collegiate level, he was a capable switch. At the professional level, that may be more of an issue for him due to his lack of size. He is a very good defender in these situations when looking at his defensive 0.74 PPP when guarding the P&R ball handler. He could be a player who excels in P&R actions from the wings, icing ball screens with his length and defensive tenacity.
Best Team Fits:
Spurs: Coach Popovich loves defensive minded wings and utilizes the G League pipeline frequently. This would be a great opportunity for Ward to learn from some of the most disciplined and hard nosed defensive players in the game. The back court is currently a log jam, but Forbes, DeRozan, and Bellineli are all free agents this coming off season. I could see Ward possibly splitting time in San Antonio and Austin as a two way player.
Portland: Ward could join Simons and Little as the next player from central Florida to make their way to the west coast. Three of Portland’s wings could be heading to free agency this summer with Bazemore’s contract ending along with Hezonja and Hood facing player options. Portland has consistently dealt with holes on the wing. Ward could develop into a low usage creator to help Lillard and McCollum.
Detroit: Detroit is going to look to trade Blake Griffin this summer for cents on the dollar, or possibly amnesty him depending on what the NBA decides to do with the salary cap due to reduced revenues. This will leave one of the worst rosters on paper in the NBA. This team needs to find talent in unique places. A 3&D guard who played in North Dakota is a great start.
Overall Outlook: Ward is an undervalued prospect who should get some looks over Vegas Summer League. He is a versatile offensive player with the potential to be a 3&D roleplayer. He can create for others and is an efficient scorer. Defensively, he wants to guard the best player on the floor. He excels in isolation, but struggles to guard the rim along with P&R. He has shown the ability to consistently improve every season at NDSU, especially his shooting and passing. He is known as a stellar teammate in the locker room and I believe that will translate to the NBA level. Don’t be surprised if Ward makes it on an NBA roster within the next few years.
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