Clayton Shields finished his career as New Mexico's
all time leader in three point shots made. He was a relatively
good distance shooter, hitting over 40% from behind the arc in
his collegiate career, including his high-water mark of 42.5%
his junior year. He has been bounced around between the power
forward and small forward positions. He played small forward,
his more natural position, for his sophomore year and the first
half of his junior year. He played power forward his freshman
and senior years and the second half of his junior years. He's
not really made to go inside, being only 210 pounds, so New Mexico
used him in a unique method his senior year. Because he was
a power forward, he was often guarded by the other teams slow power
forwards. He would then use his speed to beat his defenders to the
top of the key where he would shoot a 3. Unfortunately, against
other small forwards, he is not as quick.
Shields reportedly had a poor showing at the Desert
Classic because he had a hard time with the new, longer range
for the three-pointer. However, Shields has very good shot
technique and I expect him to be able to adapt to shooting the
NBA 3. Because Shields is more of a shooter than a banger, he
may have to move from the small forward to the off guard position
in the NBA. There are two questions there. Is he quick enough?
Will he be able to play off guard with his lack of ball handling
skills? Although he can certainly beat slow college power forwards
around the court, NBA off guards may be another matter. Because
he plays forward, he never really learned ball handling skills and
does not have a game off the dribble. Some NBA scouts have
suggested that he will be able to get away with that at off guard.
Other people have suggested that his lack of ball handling skills
will force him to play forward.
He is tall enough and leaps high enough with good
athletic ability to play the small forward spot. The question
at the small forward spot would be his lack of body strength
and his unwillingness to bang bodies, which could cause problems
against some NBA forwards. I'm still convinced his main
strength is shooting and I'm one of those that would try to
put him at off guard (although I think I'm in the minority).
The bottom line on Shields is that I expect him to be a
late first round or early second round draft pick and have a
successful NBA career as a backup at either small forward or
shooting guard or maybe even both.