Theo Maledon is one of the three top European prospects in this draft and has officially declared for the NBA draft. The lengthy combo guard has been a starter for a EuroLeague team this season which is a feat only Luka Doncic has out of all European NBA prospects since 2010. Here is a breakdown on who Theo Maledon is and what he could become in the NBA:
Maledon is an awesome athlete. He has good size and explosiveness as a player but what really makes him stand out is his overall coordination. His coordination makes him so difficult to guard when he is a fast break situation. When he’s in the open court, he can practically do whatever he wants.
Maledon has potential as a three-level scorer. He has the athleticism and frame to get inside, has a tremendous floater that opens him so much for his game, and he as a pure looking jumper. He made nearly two threes night on 36.7% while being a career 82% free throw shooters also suggests he could become a good shooter from downtown.
Maybe not always the most engaged defender, but when engaged… Maledon plays defense at a high level. He has really good instincts and a strong defensive base which many young don’t have early on. His overall physical tools give him a chance to be a tremendous defender someday.
Lastly, he has tremendous vision. His 7.7 assists per 40 minutes is more than Luka Doncic in his MVP season (6.6 assists per-40). He is great at attacking vulnerable defenders, he is a smart playmaker in transition and thrives at finding players in pick and roll situations. He could develop into one of the high-end NBA passers in the future.
The biggest concern that stands out for Maledon is consistency. He’s a guy who’s performance tends to be dictated by confidence. He has a tendency to get down on himself after moments of struggle which usually leads to a continuation of poor play. When he’s feeling it, his talent comes to display… he needs to become emotionally leveled before he can make a big impact on an NBA team.
Maledon is a coordinated but not explosive athlete. He’s never gonna go all Russell Westbrook on anybody but wants to be. He needs to learn how to use and maximize his physical attributes as he develops.
Maledon has the tools to be a good defender but engagement needs work. There are times where he gets exposed due to having a high-stance or doesn’t utilize his physical tools which makes his opponent’s job easier than it should be.
1. Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics have one of the best cultures and coaching in the league. Exposing Maledon to a winning culture that doesn’t need to rely on him much would do wonders for him. He would also be given the opportunity to compete for the primary backup point guard position against Wannamaker while learning from one of the best point guards in the game in Kemba Walker. If there’s anybody that can maximize Maledon’s potential, it’s Boston.
2. New Orleans Pelicans
Maledon maybe wouldn’t get the playing time he wants right away, but he has the opportunity to earn it. He has the chance to grow with one of the best young cores in the league with one of the better coaches in Alvin Gentry. Whenever Jrue Holiday is unable to contribute, Maledon could eventually become Lonzo’s backcourt mate.
3. Portland Trailblazers
The Trailblazers don’t have an established backup point guard which gives Maledon to get minutes right away. He also gets to learn from one of the best leaders in the game in Lillard which would help his development.
Both are combo guards with great size and feel. They are great in transition and consistently make good reads. They also show the ability to score at a decent level from all three dimensions and can make a 2-way impact. Shai is a little bigger and a little more athletic but Maledon is still a tremendous athlete that holds up well physically. If Maledon ever because as Shai, he would be more than worth selecting in the 1st round.
Mid-late first round