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- Measurables: 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, senior guard from Ohio State
- Key Stats: 14.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game, 43 percent shooting, 35 percent 3-point shooting
- Projected: Second round
- Hickory High Similarity Score
Why I like this guy
I’ve always been a William Buford fan. He’s never been Ohio State’s ‘star’ player, but over his four year career, there have been plenty of moments when Buford has shown a flair for the big moment and had huge plays at crucial times for OSU. I got to see one of those moments in person this year, when Buford hit an incredibly difficult contested jumper in the final seconds at Michigan State to give Ohio State a win a share of the Big Ten regular season title.
Pros for the Pistons
As I’ve mentioned in other profiles, the Pistons need depth at essentially every position, including in the backcourt. The main positive that Buford would bring to the backcourt that players like Scott Machado or Tyshawn Taylor would not is just his physical size. A strong and athletic 6-foot-6, Buford has the prototypical build for a NBA wing. Of its guards under contract for next season, Will Bynum, Brandon Knight and Ben Gordon are all on the smallish side. Adding a player like Buford, who defends well and has size, would take some pressure off of Rodney Stuckey to primarily be responsible for guarding the opponent’s biggest backcourt player.
Another weakness for the Pistons has been 3-point shooting, something Buford should be able to help with. His percentage was down to 35 percent as a senior as his role in the OSU offense increased and he took more contested shots, but he shot 38 percent from three as a sophomore and 44 percent as a junior. Currently, Gordon is the only Piston player who is what anyone would call a natural 3-point specialist. Stuckey has finally started making enough threes (37 percent) to make defenses honest against him, Tayshaun Prince can hit threes and Knight is streaky but effective from three as a rookie, but 3-point shooting is also probably not the strength of any of those players’ games. Buford, on the other hand, has played with a dominant big man in Jared Sullinger as well as a star, versatile wing in Evan Turner, so spotting up from three and making defenses pay for giving those guys too much attention is a role he’s used to and one that could help Greg Monroe avoid double-teams in the post or make teams pay too much for sagging in the lane to stop drives by Stuckey and Knight.
Because of his size, Buford would be a candidate to take some over Austin Daye‘s role as well. The Pistons reportedly still like Daye, but also can’t afford to have no insurance in case his shooting issues this season continue.
It’s also no secret that the Pistons would like to rid themselves of Gordon’s contract. Being able to replace one of Gordon’s most valuable skills — stretching the floor — for a fraction of what Gordon costs would undoubtedly benefit Detroit as it tries to add pieces.
Cons for the Pistons
Unlike Machado and Taylor, Buford doesn’t offer the versatility off the bench of being able to play the point guard spot. The Pistons could also use help behind Knight, as Walker Russell is a free agent and Bynum is a candidate to get traded. Because the Pistons have so little depth at most positions, players who are versatile enough to play more than one position are really valuable, and Buford is pretty much solely a wing, whereas several other second round prospects should be able to handle minutes at either guard spot. Buford played some PG at OSU due to injuries, but his ball-handling makes it questionable whether or not he could give competent PG minutes in the NBA.
Buford also could project as more of a specialist than a regular rotation player. He certainly has the size and athleticism to do more than just shoot, but his all-around game at OSU didn’t develop to the extent many thought it would when he was a heralded freshman (he was Mr. Basketball out of high school in Ohio and a McDonald’s All-American). Although Buford has the ability to finish and has gotten stronger during his college career, there are still wing players in the NBA who will be much quicker and stronger than him. His long arms and height should make him a capable defender, but he could also get pushed around a bit by the league’s bigger twos and threes.
What others are saying
- Excellent shooter with deep range
- Always looking to attack
- Strong, physical guard
- Very competitive
- Unusually unselfish for a scorer
Buford continues to project favorably as a NBA role player, something he’s already proven to be capable of at the college level on a number of very successful teams. He’s averaging a career high 4.2 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted this season, which is near the top amongst true shooting guard prospects in our database.
Extremely agile and explosive. Athletically he appears to be a cut above and just beginning to tap into his upside … Buford has a pretty jumpshot with excellent form and developing range. Gets good lift and has a high release point, that along with a quick release and long arms make him an efficient shooter … He has gained a lot of confidence in his shot … He is most effective when he can create a rhythm by shooting off of one dribble but is also adept catching and shooting … He gathers and sets quickly and can shoot without much space, effectively … Shows a preference to go left and shoot but is effective pulling up going in either direction … Understands the offensive side of the game well, coming off screens and shooting off curls.
“In the long run, he’ll be a prime example of a player that benefited from four years,” Jim Jackson said. “Hopefully, he can come back after a 10-, 12-, 13-, 14-year NBA career and say the best thing that happened to him was that he stayed four years.”
But while Buford’s inconsistent play has been a source of frustration for the Buckeyes, it is only because followers of OSU basketball realize how good the senior player can be. Buford has scored 20 or more points in ten games this season, including 21 points versus Florida, 20 points versus Duke, 21 points in a tough loss to Kansas, and 29 points to lead OSU to victory in a close three-point win against Purdue.
What is the best thing William Buford does for his team?
William Buford provides a perimeter threat with a variety of options in which to score. Buford’s mid-range game with the ability to curl around screens for jumpers is second to none in college basketball. That skill alone should allow him to stick around for 10 years in the NBA. He’s an excellent foul shooter, and he goes through stretches of being an excellent three-point shooter. There have been times this season where the 6’5″ guard has taken the Buckeyes on his back and single-handedly carried them across the finish line with hot shooting. Buford’s battle at the next level, just as at this one, will be to remain consistent, avoiding the 2-for-13 shooting nights that have plagued him at times. However, if you’re talking about an early second round selection, there are few that have as much scoring ability from the wing as Buford does.