2024 NBA Draft scouting report: Reed Sheppard

Four-star recruit Reed Sheppard has been Kentucky's best player, but is he their best NBA Draft prospect?

Reed Sheppard, Kentucky Wildcats basketball
Reed Sheppard, Kentucky Wildcats basketball / Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NBA Draft class is riddled with question marks up top. That is what makes Reed Sheppard such an interesting prospect. The Kentucky two-guard was a four-star recruit. He entered the season with minimal expectations, at least from the NBA perspective. Kentucky is loaded with five-star talent, as always. Especially in the backcourt. All eyes were on D.J. Wagner, Rob Dillingham, and Justin Edwards — not Reed Sheppard.

It just so happens that Sheppard has meaningfully outperformed all of them to date. Sheppard continues to come off the bench for John Calipari's squad, but he is a strikingly positive influence every time he steps on the court. Few players in college basketball process the game better than Sheppard. He's razor-sharp with each decision, and he's currently setting nets aflame from 3-point range.

Sheppard's BPM (13.7) ranks seventh among college basketball freshmen dating back to 2008. Only Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Chet Holmgren, and Kyrie Irving land higher (h/t Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report). He impacts the games both ways and his skill set appears imminently translatable. With no obvious high-end stars to bank on, do not be surprised if teams are drawn to Sheppard's surefire stability earlier than one might expect for a 6-foot-3 shooting guard with a plus-zero wingspan.

As of this writing, Sheppard is averaging 12.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists on .563/.541/.838 splits in 26.5 minutes.

Reed Sheppard NBA Draft bio

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 187 pounds
Birthdate: June 24, 2004
Position: Shooting Guard
Offensive Role: Spacer and connective playmaker
Defensive Role: Off-ball pest
Projected Draft Range: 5-25

NBA Draft highlights


Let's start with the obvious calling card — shooting. Sheppard is attempting 4.1 3s per game and making them at a 54.1 percent clip. There is obvious time and space for regression, but Sheppard is plainly one of the best shooters on the board, if not the best. He can get to his spots in different ways, too. He fires without hesitation off the catch, he can move into shots off of screens, and there are flashes of pull-up juice to keep defenders honest.

What makes Sheppard stand out, aside from his ludicrous efficiency, is how quickly he reads the floor. He is a reactive player, capable of making split-second choices without piling up mistakes. He doesn't predetermine. He doesn't let the defense dictate his decision-making. Sheppard is elite when it comes to taking what the defense gives him and operating selflessly to elevate the team around him. At 19 years old, Sheppard plays with the poise we typically indentify in four-year college vets. It's easy to see him learning the ropes quickly at the next level and impacting winning from day one.

Sheppard doesn't necessarily qualify as a point guard, but he's a tremendous connective passer. He's comfortable handling out of pick-and-rolls and creating off drives, but most impressive are Sheppard's rapid-fire passes that keep the defense rotating and the ball movement popping. There are examples aplenty of Sheppard catching the ball with momentum toward the basket and immediately locating the open shooter. He will rocket cross-court skip passes, but he also makes the simple plays, too. Rather than getting bogged down in his own ingenuity, Sheppard focuses on making the best decision for the team.

He doesn't profile as a No. 1 creator, but Sheppard can put up a healthy assists number (4.1) without turning the ball over (1.5). He is ready-made for a supportive role in the NBA, chucking 3s off the catch, attacking closeouts, and aiding ball movement. Sheppard is master of the little things.

That goes for the defensive end, too. Not many 6-foot-3 guards with 6-foot-3 wingspans are great defenders, but Sheppard might break the mold. He's averaging 2.5 steals per game. His instincts are off the charts and he competes hard at the point of attack, relying on textbook footwork and an insatiable appetite for stops to offset his limitations as an athlete. Sheppard knows how to operate within a team context and he is going to generate turnovers. NBA teams will target him in isolation because of his size, but there's much more to defense than guarding Kevin Durant on a switch late in games.


Despite his great fundamentals and unyielding effort, Sheppard will run up against natural limitations due to his small frame and okay athleticism. Again, Sheppard will be a target on switches, especially once the playoffs arrive. He is going to struggle at times with the increased size and physicality of NBA scorers. The speed of the next level could require an adjustment period, even with Sheppard's infinite basketball I.Q.

On the offensive end, there are valid concerns about Sheppard's ceiling. He's a tremendous shooter, but he doesn't exactly profile as the J.J. Redick brand of movement sniper. He needs to set his feet before firing and his 3-point volume at Kentucky (8.2 per 100 possessions), while solid, isn't on par with the greatest shooters of the last few draft cycles.

Sheppard will also be limited to off-ball duties and secondary contributions. He just doesn't have the burst to consistently pressure the rim and his lack of length will make finishing in traffic at the next level rather difficult. He can hit pull-up middies or even lean on floaters, but Sheppard's ceiling does rest below many of his lottery-bound counterparts. His appeal is rooted in his floor.

Final summary

All signs point toward Sheppard contributing right away at the next level. He's a winning player, through and through. The question is whether or not he's more than a bankable bench shooter. Teams typically want star or at least high-level starter upside in the lottery. Sheppard has a strong case for the latter, but it's difficult to chart a viable path to stardom.

That said, with no traditional high-level prospects blanketing the lottery conversation, Sheppard's obvious floor could be quite appealing to teams. He is going to accentuate the talent around him and his skill set is highly malleable. Even if he does run headlong into a brick wall of athletic shortcomings and physical limitations, Sheppard's 3-point efficiency, sharp passing, and heads-up defense should be enough to impact winning.

No matter where he lands, Sheppard has all the hallmarks of an instant fan favorite. Expect the Kentucky product to endear himself fans, coaches, and teammates at the next level.

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