Published on Mar 10, 2014
A highly unconventional player, Warren is as gifted a scorer as you'll find. He moves off the ball exceptionally well, finding gaps instinctually in opposing defenses. He is difficult to slow down because of the versatility he displays, being extremely effective at putting the ball in the basket in a multitude of ways inside the arc.
Warren has taken the 3rd highest amount of runners in all of college basketball this season according to Synergy Sports Technology, hitting over 50% of these attempts, tops among DX Top-100 prospects.
While not a traditional one on one player (most of his isolation plays come from the elbow or short corner), he's extremely tough to defend because of the quality of his mid-range game and how many different release points he has. Frequently used as a mismatch face-up power forward, He has terrific footwork, soft touch and a knack for throwing the ball into the basket, sometimes going high off the glass.
Warren does a great job of getting out in transition, as the biggest share of his offense comes in this fashion. While not exceptionally quick, a high flyer, or an amazing ball-handler, his scoring instincts really shine through here, as he shoots 65% from the field in these situations, 3rd best among Top-100 DX prospects.
One major question mark in Warren's evaluation revolves around his outside shot. He made just 29.5% of his 3-pointers on the season, although he does make over one per game. Some of this has to do with poor shot-selection, but his inconsistent shooting mechanics play a substantial role in these mediocre percentages from beyond the arc as well. Warren shows sloppy footwork and a significant ball-dip on the catch, not getting his feet underneath him and fading away badly on most of his attempts.
He's often talented enough to throw ball into the basket regardless, despite his poor mechanics, which leaves some hope that he'll be able to figure it out in the pros with better coaching and more practice time. His consistency has improved as the season moved on, as he made 35% of his 3-pointers in ACC play (17 games). NBA teams will likely want to get a better feel for this part of his game in private workouts, as his ability to space the floor effectively from the SF position will likely play a major role in whether or not he's ultimately successful.
Another question pertaining to his role-player potential revolves around his passing ability. He's dished out just 32 assists on the season in over 1000 minutes, or one every 33 minutes. His assist percentage ranks third worst among DX Top-100 small forward prospects, and things were even worse last season as a freshman with better teammates around him, as his 5.9% assist percentage was identical to Shabazz Muhammad's.
Mostly asked to guard PFs at the college level, Warren will likely see more time on the perimeter defensively in the NBA, which poses another set of questions he'll have to answer in private workout settings. His effort here can be questionable at times, as he doesn't always get low the ground in his stance, and gets beat frequently off the dribble, often preferring to simply swipe at the ball rather than playing a more fundamentally sound style. On the other hand, Mark Gottfried teams have never been known for their defensive prowess, so a change of scenery might help.
Warren's instincts and anticipation skills really shine through in the way he approaches his work at the top of N.C. State's press, as he gets a good amount of steals that way, which leaves some room for optimism. Still, his lack of length is somewhat concerning, as he measured a 6-9 ½ wingspan on two separate occasions at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in 2011 and 2013. Will he be able to guard SFs consistently in the NBA?
Measured 6-9 in shoes, or close to it, Warren is tall enough to spend a good amount of time at PF in the NBA as well, but his very poor defensive rebounding rate could make that difficult at times if he doesn't make a more concerted effort here. He only pulls down 4.4 defensive rebounds per-40 (last year 3.1), which ranks extremely poorly for a PF prospect, and still below average for a SF.
With that said, Warren has one valuable skill he can hang his hat on in his supreme scoring ability, and considering he's only 20, can likely still improve on his very correctable weaknesses enough to develop into a solid NBA player. Finding a role for him at the NBA player isn't a cinch, though, which is why his draft stock hasn't really taken off just yet despite the gaudy scoring numbers he's produced.