Skylar Mays Scouting Report
By: Alex Brown @AhbAnalytics
With Insight Via InStat.
Age: 23 Years (September 5th, 1997).
Measurements: 6’4, 205lbs, 6’6 wingspan.
Background: A 3 star recruit hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Skylar Mays joined LSU after a very successful high school career – securing two state championships. Throughout his four year collegiate career with LSU, Mays distinguished himself as a leader on and off the court. After teammate Wayde Sims was killed in late 2018, Mays and the Tigers made a memorable sweet-16 run, showing exemplary mental toughness & winning drive. Mays was also awarded the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in both 2019 and 2020, as well as the McWhorter Award. Off the court, he especially values sports science, medicine, and his very large family.
Injury Report: Nothing Major Publicly Available
Personality: Reviews have been rather glowing regarding Skylar’s locker room presence, work ethic, and dedication to the team. He is certainly the type of player that will buy in to getting better, playing his role, and learning a new system. On top of this, he is a comfortable leader that takes pride in the relationships he develops with his teammates and coaches. He has a history of winning over coaches and teammates rather quickly, and is sure to make fans in front offices. Personality is a legitimate differentiating factor for Mays, and will be a major part of him carving out an NBA role.
Athleticism: Mays is a pretty average athlete overall for a guard. Burst is fine, but not something worth betting on for consistent advantage creation in the halfcourt. However, he can create athletic advantages in space where he can employ advanced footwork and finishes when downhill (HC) or in transition. He has shown that he can move well enough laterally to stick with some 1’s and smaller 2’s. Vertically, he can occasionally finish above the rim in space, but is not a notable vertical athlete overall on either end. He will be the type of player that relies on footwork & IQ to beat opponents. He will pick his spots well regarding finding ways to use his athleticism to create advantages, such as transition when logically applicable.
Projected Roles: Screen Assisted Driver – Spot Up Shooter – P&R Ball Handler – Guard Defender
Projected Draft Landing: Second Round
- High: Low-Mid Rotation Linking Guard – Guard Defender
- Mays ends up as a plus shooter that adds value off spot ups, movement shooting, and the occasional dribble pull-up due to shooting improvements. He provides value as a pick and roll creator by getting to the rim, finding teammates, and making intelligent reads. He will be a role player with a winning impact offensively (for a low usage role), and a defensive neutral.
- Medium: Low Rotation Linking Guard – Off-Ball Guard Defender
- Mays is a good shooter (league average or slight plus), with average value off movement or off the dribble. He is at his most efficient in a low volume, linking combo guard role. He is not a true lead guard, but a linking piece due to his ability to score off the ball and initiate in P&R. Defensive neutral to slight negative.
- Low: Two-Way or Overseas Lead Guard – Off-Ball Guard Defender
- If he doesn’t stick in the NBA after two-way stints, Mays is sure to have plenty of overseas interest as a potential lead (or linking, depending on construction) guard who buys in. Defensive neutral in these scenarios.
- Pick and Roll Ball Handler: Finishing in the 98th percentile as a P&R BH, Skylar is quite effective as a P&R BH. High IQ guards that can manipulate the pace, react quickly, and rely on craft excel here in the modern game. Mays is no exception, as he employs an advanced feel to pick apart aggressive coverages. Typically without having a deadly pull-up and/or elite burst makes it quite hard to be a major P&R threat, but Mays makes it work by creating advantages using his superior feel.
- Screen Assisted Slashing: Mays does a good job of recognizing and attacking broken defenses, especially as the P&R BH. While he does not create NBA level advantages for himself (at volume) off the dribble, he can make up for it as a plus finisher as the P&R BH. These situations help him get to that second level of finishing, as he has more room to operate in space and employ moves like his eurostep. He is good with his right hand and not afraid of contact, but is lacking ideal versatility at the rim. 5/15 with his left hand in P&R per InStat’s sample.
- Range Shooting: When Mays is really shooting the ball well, he shows off a compact, balanced jumper that extends to the NBA 3pt line. While he is not a pure shooter and still has many improvements he can make, his .622 True Shooting this year (54.8/39.4/85.4) emphasizes his low usage shooting value. While not a true volume threat, his 1.6 made 3’s per game is sure to suffice for a lower usage role. Not the most natural touch, rather manufactured.
- Spot Up Value: Despite some lacking relocations, I like the base Mays has to build upon as a spot up threat. He is comfortable and balanced, even when contested. This helps mask some of his off-ball movement lapses, and helps him retain off-ball value. He will be a good spot up shooter, just not a notable off-ball creator for now. 76% of his 50 threes were assisted. See Skylar’s ’19-’20 C&S Shot Chart below – via Instat.
- Free Throws: Career 84.5% on 478 attempts on a .409 FTr. Not much analysis needed here, just a plus to know you have a strong and consistent free throw shooter that can execute at the line while getting there at a good rate for a guard.
- Ball Movement: Mays has good instincts for playmaking, and he is not a black hole by any means. One of the reasons that he is such a great linking guard is his propensity to keep the ball moving in the halfcourt and exploit breakdowns (especially P&R). While he is not a guy I would run the offense through, he is a player that I would be happy to use as a P&R initiator and secondary playmaker (and general ball mover). Strong feel for the game is certainly evident here and when operating in P&R.
- Off-Dribble Shooting: While Mays has shown that he can (occasionally) get to a pull up from deep, I would really like to see him improve here, especially since he is so comfortable initiating P&R. When watching all of his shots this year, I noticed a few mechanical inconsistencies that need to be repped out. It does not seem that natural for Mays, and a major swing factor. He seems much more comfortable shooting without employing his handle in some capacity. Luckily for Mays, the fact that he can get to these shots off the dribble is a good start. There is a base to build on here.
- Off-Ball Activity: Mays does not create much for himself off the ball. He does not have the propensity to cut often or relocate frequently. He tends to find an open spot and stay there, so not much advantage creation here. It can be taught, but doesn’t appear to be as natural as you would like. In Instat’s sample, Mays shot 7/10 for the season on cuts. They looked good too, so would like to see him improve his activity.
- Average Finisher: I do not expect Mays to be a plus finisher at the next level. He does have some great eye-test flashes, but he is quite inconsistent and the numbers back that up. He finished just under 57% at the rim, and 100/227 in the paint. Skylar is one of those players that will occasionally wow you with an excellent hop step or euro-step, and then occasionally blow easy ones and open dunks. I do not really see Mays being anything more than average here at the next level.
- Left Handed Finishing: A detriment to Skylar’s finishing package is his lacking left hand. InStat’s sample had him finishing only 27% of his left handed shots around the rim, which is far from ideal. The eye test supports this, as his comfort level and touch noticeably deteriorates when using his left. Mays clearly preferred his right hand around the rim, and could obviously benefit greatly by working on that left hand. Not something you like to see in a 23-year-old prospect that is a feel-orientated advantage creator.
- Turnover Generation: Mays finished with a career 3% steal rate, and while obviously bound to regress, it is still strong for this level. He does a good job of playing proactively in passing lanes, and he can get some on ball strips as well. While his gambles occasionally look bad, when he makes the right read he executes. He will certainly regress due to lacking burst, but should generate some extra possessions.
- Decent Team Defender: Mays does not provide anything special as a team defender outside of his solid turnover generation. Like many collegiate players, he makes mistakes like getting caught ball watching and getting disengaged when not involved. Luckily, he is not a total liability off the ball like some of the other guards in this class. Mays will be passable, position himself well, and communicate, but he won’t be a very impactful team defender. I expect him to get better in an NBA system too, and I expect him to buy in to getting better here. Reminds me a bit of the value I expect Justinian Jessup to have. Limited athletically, but not a liability, and not a plus.
- Decent Point of Attack Defense: I do not expect Mays to be a plus on the ball. He doesn’t always trust his footwork enough to play tight on shooters, and can get shredded by NBA level slashers like Mason Jones. I worry about his physicality on defense as well. He is a smart defender, but does not provide enough on ball value to hang his hat on for a 23 year old. I expect him to just be a linking off-ball defender that can get a steal here and there, not your primary POA guy.
- P&R: Mays can get caught up on screens rather easily. In the ball screen heavy league, I just worry he won’t provide notable value or mitigate advantages created on ball in P&R or POA.
- Interior Defense: With his tools and athleticism, Mays is obviously not a major deterrence around the rim. Not a huge issue for guards of course, but do not expect Mays to add much (if any) value in the paint defensively.
- Second-Level Defense vs Slashers: Mays does a passable (to plus) job of containing slashers outside the paint. However, when slashers do get to that second level, his defense has the tendency to disappear. He does a good job of staying vertical and not fouling, but he could stand to be much more physical with slashers. He needs to focus on finishing the play. Below is an average example of what will happen with him most plays, not an extreme example. He seems to just hope his bigs bail him out.
Overall OutlookWhile I have seen Mays all over boards and mocks, I would take Mays in the second round if I wanted to bring on a linking guard that will work hard, be a great locker room guy, and provide spot up and secondary P&R initiator value. I currently think he will be a complementary low rotation guy on a good team. Should he develop his off-ball game and movement shooting, he could have the ceiling of a 7th/8th man that can initiate in P&R, spot up, and shoot off movement off the bench. Definitely worth taking a shot on in the second round and developing him into a quality low-mid rotation role player. Regarding his development, I would certainly reduce the amount of isolations he has been put in and focus on maximizing his value off the ball while continuing to maximize his play in P&R. At his value maximization point, I would imagine him being a stout guard defender that can initiate in P&R and be a plus spot up threat on low-mid volume. Major Swing Factors: Movement Shooting, Finishing Versatility