I don't think there was any player who saw their stock plummet more than Brandon Boston Jr. this year. Coming into the year, Boston was in that top-tier for many, mentioned in the same breath as Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga. But a woeful start to the season, generally underwhelming play and inefficient numbers have cost Boston dearly.
Nonetheless, Boston announced he's leaving for the NBA and won't return to Kentucky. He's going to have the opportunity to workout in front of teams in personal workouts, where just one good showing could rejuvenate the talk about his upside.
Boston's upside is as an incredibly long guard who can create his own shot. His raw tools -- length, ball handling, fluid-looking jumper -- always will give the intrigue about him becoming an isolation scorer and potential three-level option. There are, mechanically speaking, some small impediments in his way from achieving that level.
First is the first step. Boston struggles to create separation from his man. His first step is pretty long, but he has no burst to him. He needs screens, movement into handoffs or a runway in isolation to get his momentum at full speed carrying him past his man. It limits his ability to get to the rim, to create enough space for a mid-range pull-up, and to draw extra defenders so he can get others involved.
Second, the length of his jumper. Boston has a high release, and with a 6'11" wingspan, that makes it really hard to block. But off the dribble, it means it takes longer to get off. That, combined with the lack of separation, really limits some of the one-on-one upside to his arsenal.
Finally, Boston is really thin right now. A wiry frame doesn't typically deter me from drafting anyone, but his finishing numbers are really poor. The lack of strength shows up in those tangible ways, and he's built more like Brandon Ingram where there's functional strength that can be added, but he'll always be on the thinner side.
To some extent, all of these can be corrected or minimized. Strength can be added so he becomes more confident finishing at the rim. He can rep his pull-up so frequently that he gets quick with it in tight spaces. Offensive sets can put him in motion to minimize the lack of burst he has one-on-one. The combination of all three factors needing serious growth is reason to drop his draft stock a fair margin, though.
Boston has a ton of bloom still on the rose in other areas. Calipari rarely used him in ballscreens at Kentucky. He is a competent passer who should be much better with a spread floor in the NBA. Two things are true of the situation he faced in Kentucky. One: his team suffered from a major lack of shooting, so the lane was collapsed (further stifling his finishing or time for pull-ups) and they faced a lot of zone. Two: other Calipari products who are combo guards have been far more capable out of ball screens than many thought during their pre-draft processes. Jamal Murray, Tyler Herro, Immanuel Quickley... all three were more floor spacers and secondary handlers who are really capable as the primary option operating in a spread pick-and-roll. Both bode well for Boston at the next level.
He has a fairly productive baseline, too. If he can be a solid shooter who is at around 33%, like he was after December 1st, and a cagey defender in the backcourt/ wings, he can hang around in the league. That baseline, with upside to be a good scorer in bunches, could put him as a mid-to-late first-rounder still.
Boston could end up having an NBA role similar to Xavier Henry, the former Kansas prospect picked in the lottery who never found his footing despite being a solid low-volume shooter and long-armed defender. Or Boston could turn himself into a Jeremy Lamb type of bench scorer. To me, the reward is worth the risk when you get to the 20s, if not a tad sooner. I'm a big believer that a lot of Kentucky combo guards find their footing with the freedom they're given at the next level. Boston's stats might pop and skill become more evident when he gets there, even if there's a lot to be corrected to turn him into a lethal scorer.