Wade Baldwin IV is a point guard from Vanderbilt University. Baldwin is 6’4 and has a wingspan of 6’10. For the year, he averaged, 30.4 minutes per game, 14.1 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, 5.2 assists per game, 1.2 steals per game, while shooting 42.7% from the field, and 40.6% from three.
- Good NBA point guard height
- Incredible wingspan
- Does a great job pacing the game
- Extremely efficient player
- Devastating when attacking the rim
- Efficient at the free throw line
- Good shooting mechanics
- Three point marksmen
- Great passer
- Great overall defender
- Can defend multiple positions
- Average athleticism
- Struggled against tougher competition
- Developing court vision
- Needs to develop better handles
- Dribbles too much at times
- Point guard or shooting guard
- Shot selection
- Struggles at the rim
- Needs to seek out more contact
Baldwin has been labeled as having the potential to be the biggest steal in the draft, and that is quite possible considering his late bloom in basketball skill, and the remarkable potential he does have if the bloom is just the start off his skill set.
On offense, Baldwin is a big question mark. This is not his strong suit, and he does not ever stand out during games, but he is extremely efficient when he does contribute. When attacking the rim, there was almost no guard that could contain him. Baldwin does play a lot out of the paint, but struggles when it comes to finishing at the rim when contested. Baldwin also strays away from contact, even though he is a very good free throw shooter. Mid-range is a developing part of the game of Baldwin. He does a lower release, but the mechanics are there, and he has found great success for it, he will just more space to get his shot off. He has shown the ability to spot up from mid-range or off the dribble. Baldwin is one of the best three point shooters in this draft class, and with teams looking to follow the Warrior’s path to success from the perimeter, this has him as a top ten pick. A huge question mark for teams looking to draft Baldwin is whether or not he is a point guard or shooting guard. He does not have elite ball handling abilities, and quite often will dribble too much on the court, and force himself into bad situations. He does a great job of making efficient passes, but with a developing court vision, he can struggle to read a defense and find his open teammates, and this will lead to him taking a contested jumper. Part of this point guard dilemma lies with his late development into the basketball world, and he has shown a lot of improvements in the few years he has been at Vanderbilt.
Baldwin has developed into a defensive mismatch for opposing guards. He is not the tallest player on the court, but he utilizes his wingspan to contain and force bad shots from opponents. Baldwin is a great perimeter defender, as well as on-ball. He is a very strong player, so he does not get backed down easily. At times, he will rely on his length too much, and get lackadaisical. This is a rare thing to see out of Baldwin, as he usually performs at a high level on defense. As a rebounder, Baldwin is nothing special. He will dominate the boards, but expect to see him in the 5-6 per game at the next level. His wingspan and strength allow for him to compete with the big boys down low for the boards.
As an overall, Baldwin possesses an immense amount of potential, but it is betting on whether his late bloom is just the beginning or the final bloom from. If it is the latter, Baldwin will find a nice niche in the league, most likely as an average starter, capable of stretching the floor, or as a great backup point guard in the league. When it comes to predicting where Baldwin will be selected, depending on the mock draft you look at, Baldwin ranges from 10-35. I think Milwaukee is a great bet to selecting Baldwin, as they are in need of shooting, and could use Baldwin off the bench with the franchise looking at having Giannis Antetokounmpo as their point guard. I think the next team to take a hard look at Baldwin would be Memphis, who are desperate for shooting, and even more desperate for a lead guard if Mike Conley leaves in free agency.
Pro Comparison: George Hill
Baldwin is one of the hardest players for me to find a comparison for. He has the potential to be the best point guard for this draft, and potential to be a Russell Westbrook, but that all hinges on offensive development, so I went with the safer bet of a George Hill type player. You will see a lot of Cory Joseph comparisons, which is a safe bet, but I think that would be the lowest of floors for him, and a safer floor is Hill.
The timidness on offense is what brings these two together for me. Both players can go for 20 plus points on any given night, but do not have that consistency game to game to do this. As the primary point guard, neither player is an elite distributor. They are capable of making efficient passes, but nothing fancy. Ball handling is pretty average from both of these players. Neither will draw the highlight reel dribble move, but also are not turnover prone. When it comes to shooting Hill and Baldwin both like to attack the rim, have nice mid-range games, and the ability to step out and hit threes at a consistent rate.
On defense, both of these two players are stingy. Both players have great, lengthy wingspans. They use their combinations of speed and wingspans to contain their opponent, and force them into difficult shots. Hill and Baldwin also have great strength for players their size, which allows them to not get bullied by bigger players. In terms of rebounding, neither player is elite, but they are willing to get dirty and go for the boards, and help the transition offense.
When people talk about Baldwin being a top steal of the draft, many people will be concerned with seeing a comparison to George Hill, but mentioned many times above, it is all subject changed due to his potential. Hill is likely the bare minimal player you will get out of Baldwin, with the potential to be a great two-way point guard for a franchise to build upon.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17