2022 NBA Draft Profile: Trevor Keels

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Semifinals-North Carolina vs Duke
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Keels is one of the many Duke prospects in this year’s draft class. He separates himself from the others with his defense mainly. It’s his calling card, and while he has skills on offense — he’s more raw on that end. He’s a two guard with a thick and bulky frame. He is 6’5” in shoes and with his build he uses it to wall up well against ball handlers. He’s someone with point of attack defensive chops, so he’s someone the Nuggets will likely take a look at. Let’s take a look for ourselves and break down what makes him tick.


Trevor Keels, Guard, Duke


Vitals

Height (w/ shoes): 6 foot 4.75 inches

Weight: 224 pounds

Wingspan: 6 foot 7.25 inches

Age: 18 (08/26/2003)


College Career Stats


Strengths

Perimeter Defense

The Nuggets are sorely lacking in perimeter defenders, especially in the guard or wing department. Trevor Keels is one of the better defenders in this draft class, and while his height might say he would struggle against forwards. However, he’s very strong — he is built like a truck. His physical frame reminds me a bit of Gary Harris or Eric Bledsoe. Keels can use his strength to keep even forwards in check. I wouldn’t ask him to guard forwards super regularly, but it’s not something that he would necessarily struggle with either.

He has good footwork and instincts on defense. His lateral quickness can use some work, but it’s not awful either. He can play passing lanes well and often is able to translate defense to offense. With his physicality and feel on the defensive end of the floor, he will bring value immediately.

Examples

Playmaking

Trevor Keels as a playmaker isn’t going to make any super impressive passes, but he’s a good connective tissue on offense. He swings the ball well, and is a willing ball mover. Keels had moments of good reads in pick and rolls. Simpler reads come naturally to him. He won’t be making passing windows, but he’s good at going through windows that the defense provides. Being a primary ball handler is likely not in the cards for Keels; though a tertiary playmaking role is pretty likely for him if he’s developed in that area of his game.

Examples

Strength

His biggest physical strength is his, well, strength. It is utilized in nearly every aspect of his game. Finishing? Yep, makes it a lot easier for him to absorb contact. Shot creation? Sure, he gets downhill easier because of it. He can knock guys around and get better looks at it. Defense? You betcha! Walling up against defenders and knocking them off their spots is a frequent feature of his game. Being just 18 years old and that built is a great start for him physically in the NBA. He can probably develop his tools even further and get quicker too.

Examples


Improvement Areas

Shooting

Trevor Keels isn’t a non-shooter, but it’s the biggest part of his game to work on. Being a guard in the NBA that is a bad shooter makes it very difficult for a player to be productive. Even Ben Simmons who is damn near elite in every other aspect of the game is seen as a laughing stock because he is targeted when closing games — especially in playoff scenarios. He shot 31.2% from the three point line on 4.8 attempts a game. It wasn’t like he was taking the most difficult shots either — shooting just 28.3% on unguarded catch and shoot attempts.

There are positive indicators for his shooting upside though. He’s very confident off the catch — the release is quick and he was very comfortable taking them. His form looks rather square, but when he lines up it goes in just fine. He had stretches in games when he would get hot and looked comfortable as a pull up shooter. Shooting is an area that players often can improve at, and he’s just 18. I can buy into him as a league average shooter in a couple of seasons.

Examples

Shot Creation

Trevor Keels does not project to be a great shot creator at the next level. He doesn’t have a very good first step, isn’t the most explosive, and creating space is very reliant on his strength. That worked fine at Duke, but in the NBA he will be going against top of the line athletes. Even when he does create space, it just isn’t pretty and doesn’t go in all the time. He’s not a very reliable shooter and only an average shooter at the moment. He can get better in this aspect, but don’t expect him to be a scorer by his own volition.

Examples


Expected Outcome

Projected Draft Range: Late first/early second

Denver Stiffs Big Board: 42nd overall (though honestly I could easily have him at 30 or so, about 25-45 is one big tier so don’t read into this ranking too much)


Verdict

For the Denver Nuggets, I do think I would consider drafting Trevor Keels. He would provide immediate defense and next to Jokic, players can figure it out easily enough — until he developed real skills on that end he’d be fine just cutting and passing. With the Nuggets’ development staff he could probably develop into a decent tertiary playmaker and a fine shooter. With his youth — being just 18 years old — he is someone the Nuggets could mold into their image. He wouldn’t be my first pick there, but not someone I’d be upset at the Nuggets taking.

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