Assessing Tyler Cook

June 14, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup, as they are the 2019 NHL champions in the sport of hockey.  This time around, I decided that I wanted to watch another player from the St. Louis area, and so I set out to watch Iowa’s 6-9 junior big man, Tyler Cook play in a January 24th game against Michigan State.  I was able to see this match, with thanks to YouTube via Sports Arena.  He is an early entrant that is eligible to be selected by an NBA team in this year’s draft.  With that in mind, I took the time to assess his skills to see how well he would likely fare in the association.

Tyler Cook is a fairly mobile, skilled big man that can get numerous points for his team in the paint.  He can score on hustle plays, as he was able to score on a quick put back after grabbing an offensive rebound, and he also managed to score on a powerful two-handed dunk after being left wide open around the basket another time.  However, he doesn’t seem to roll hard to the rim, and there were a few occasions where he would miss the chance to roll off of screens to receive passes where he could then get open looks at the rim.

Cook also posted up a lot, and his team often would use him as the primary low post scoring option down low.  In this game though, he produced mixed results as a scorer from the block.  He struggled in the first half, as he would tend to miss on jump hooks, and he would sometimes struggle to find his shooting touch from that range.  He did a much better job of scoring in the post in the second half, as he has good strength to back down his man, and he would tend to use a quick shoulder fake to score on jump hooks, as he can do so with either hand.

He also flashed the ability to score off of drives to the basket.  Cook was able to drive hard to the rim to score on a pull-up jumper off the glass, and he has an adequate first step that allows him to take bigger players off the dribble, but sometimes he may be prone to taking tough, contested shots, and he would occasionally struggle to score in traffic off the dribble.  Cook also used a pivot and a jab step move to take a mid-range jumper in the second half, but he ended up missing as he couldn’t quite find his mark that time.

Also, Cook displayed decent playmaking skills.  He is a patient player that sees the floor well, as he will throw sharp passes from the post to find cutters in order to set up quick scoring chances for his teammates, and he also handles the ball fairly well for a big man.  Cook will sometimes bring the ball up, and he even can utilize a behind the back dribble move.  He also will set screens, and he can help a teammate get open for a jump shot every once in a while.  However, sometimes he can struggle to protect the basketball, as opponents may poke balls away from him when he takes it to the rim on offense.  His lone turnover was when he posted up, but he lost the ball out of bounds, as he tried to make a move too quickly but he didn’t take great care of the ball on that possession.

However, he will need to improve his ability to rebound the basketball.  For the positives, Cook has good motor and strength, and he will leap up to get boards as he can get a handful of defensive rebounds.  He also spun to box out his man as he leapt up to get an offensive rebound while drawing the foul late in this contest.  However, he can be late to get in rebounding position, and he also can be late to get to basketballs, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow put back scores.

Defensively, he looked to be about average.  In this game, Cook was able to catch an errant interior pass from an opponent that was thrown right to him to get a steal, and he will also rotate up on opposing ball handlers.  He was able to force a pass that indirectly led to a passing turnover, and he also helped a teammate defend a three-point shot to force a miss.  Early on, he also rotated on a drive as he successfully drew a charge to get a stop for his team.  Cook has adequate mobility and footwork, and he seems to show some potential to guard players out on the perimeter.

However, sometimes he may be late on his rotations, and there was one play where he didn’t get back on defense, which led his team to allow a fast break score.  There was another occasion where he didn’t rotate over to cover for a blown teammate on a drive despite being able to, as his team allowed the basket.  On a separate play, he over-helped on a drive and left his man open at the rim, which led his team to allow the score.  Cook doesn’t really seem to have great instincts to block shots, and he can sometimes struggle to defend in the paint area.

Right now, Tyler Cook may be a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft.  He is a fairly mobile big man that put up fairly solid numbers this year, but he will still need to improve on both ends of the floor to improve his odds to make it to and succeed in the NBA.  He will need to improve his face-up game and position defense, and he will have to show that he can consistently knock down jumpers to help space the floor for teams at the next level.  He may need to adjust his game to be able to make the transition to the league, but in a favorable scenario, he could end up reliable role player in the association.