Nuggets Draft Profile: Wendell Moore Jr.

On June 7, the Denver Nuggets received six college candidates who are qualified for the 2022 NBA draft, which is taking place later this month. Among those six prospects was Duke University forward Wendell Moore Jr.

Moore spent three years with Duke and showed significant development in his game each season. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, there were concerns about his offensive efficiency as he was widely viewed as a defensive player.

But in his junior year, he took a giant leap in his shooting ability. A six percent increase in his field goal percentage — and 11 percent from beyond the arc — restored confidence that he’s an NBA-eligible prospect.

All the while he maintained the fierce defense that made him such an intriguing player in the first place. Three-and-D wings are among the NBA’s most valuable archetypes, which is worth keeping an eye on for Moore.

To start a series that breaks down 10 prospects in the June 23 draft, let’s take a look at Moore’s strengths, areas for improvement, and how he might fit in with the Nuggets if he ultimately lands in Denver.

Strengthen

While his 6-foot-5 frame isn’t typical of an NBA wing, Moore’s 7-foot span should allow him to defend multiple high-level positions. Moore averaged 1.6 steals per 40 minutes over his three collegiate seasons, coupled with an uncanny ability to skip fast lanes and pressure ball handlers.

When guarding smaller players, he will frustrate them with his length and energy. He can often force guards to make bad shots or attempt difficult passes.

Against wings and power forwards, he uses his active hands and impeccable timing to change shots on the rim or periphery.

He earned ACC All-Defense honors in 2021-22 and has arguments for being one of the better wing defenders in the 2022 class.

Moore won’t have the same ball-handling and playmaking responsibilities in the NBA as he did at Duke. But in a way, this could even better lead to an immediate secondary playmaker.

During his junior season, Moore averaged a career-high 4.4 assists per game. He was instrumental in Duke’s pick-and-roll offense by making quick decisions and being selflessly willing to bring others on board to keep the Blue Devils offense going.

Moore’s playmaking chops don’t just end when the ball is out of his hands. Court Vision also helps him as an editor where he can get to the rim and finish with ease.

Splits of 50.0/41.3/80.5 on shooting in 2021-22 showed what type of player he can be when sharing the pitch with attention-grabbing superstars. He thrived alongside Paolo Banchero, a planned lottery pick.

His true shooting percentage — which accounts for shot quality and frequency — ranked him ninth in the ACC during his junior season.

areas of improvement

Scope Consistency:

Moore shot a career-best 41.3% over the arch in his final collegiate season. However, it took him two years to reach that number, scoring 21.1% and 30.1% in his first two years at Duke.

Those numbers might look worrying on the surface, but the sharp improvement in his third year reflects a player who has shown the will – and ability – to improve.

Creation from the Dribble:

An unearthly span allows Moore to remain competitive on defense by disrupting shot timing and passing paths. But on offense, Moore has — sometimes — struggled to dissuade defenders from dribbling.

A role change from primary to secondary playmaker should mitigate this as his view of the court and basketball IQ are strong enough to overcome any perceived burst issues.

Fit with nuggets

Should the Nuggets use their 21st overall pick to select Moore, they’re getting a player who would fit the Michael Malone system absolutely seamlessly.

A secondary playmaker who has the ability to shoot 40% from three and defend at the wing at an elite level is hard to come by in today’s NBA. And alongside Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., it would be hard to beat.

Moore, likely coming off the bench to Porter’s relief, could help players like Bones Hyland initiate offensive sets for the second unit. The Duke Junior has been criticized for his passive offensive approach, but that could be maximized alongside an aggressive player like Hyland.

And since the Nuggets need less of Moore offensively than Duke does, he can direct more of his focus and energy to defense where he would be a game changer on the wings.

With Porter injured in 2021-22, the Nuggets had no suitable wing-back. It’s possible they’ll have two next season should Moore be the pick.

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