First Look at Billy Preston

February 26, 2018

by Alan Lu

I decided to take a look at BC Igokea’s 6-10 forward, Billy Preston, as he played in a February 4th Adriatic League game against Mornar, as I was able to see that online with thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d.  Preston was supposed to have played at Kansas, but he was being held out of games, and he left school shortly after.  He is an athletic big man that has been said to have intriguing offensive skills, so I decided to assess his skills by watching a full game of his.  Here is a breakdown of how well he played against Mornar that day, and how he may project as a prospect for the NBA.

Billy Preston did a good job of getting scores on quick drives to the basket.  He is a fleet-footed forward that handles the ball well, and he can use quick moves to swiftly get to the basket to garner scores.  He managed to score on an acrobatic switch of hands layup at the rim once, and Preston also managed to score on a high post drive on a fadeaway runner.  He also showed a decent ability to score on hustle plays.  He has a good motor and first step to the hoop, as he can draw free throws on fast break drives as well as off of offensive rebounds.  But sometimes, Preston may rush his shots in traffic, which can lead to misses.

He also tended to miss on pull-up jumpers inside the arc.  Preston had a tendency to dribble in to take long, two-point shots, and he did not show much of a proficiency for knocking those down against Mornar.  He did use a quick crossover to score on a pull-up shot on the baseline once, but Preston tended to miss on contested jumpers off the dribble.  Preston often would pass up open threes, but he did not knock down a long-range jumper from beyond the arc.  He did dribble off of a screen to take an open pull-up three, but he missed at that time from that distance.

Also, he showed off adequate playmaking skills.  Preston is a very good ball handler that can swiftly bring the ball up off of defensive boards to push the ball up the court, and he also can hit a cutter in transition to show off his passing skills.  He also will set numerous on and off-ball screens and he will usually pop off of them.  However, Preston can tend to be something of a ball stopper when it is in his hands in half-court sets.  When he gets the ball, he will tend to dribble around or back out to the three-point line for a while, in which he will usually settle for a long two or pass to a teammate, as he did so once just before the shot clock expired.  He did commit a turnover once, as he was called for setting a moving screen on offense.

Plus, he did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Preston was quite active at crashing the glass, as he is a solid athlete that possesses good leaping ability, quickness, and motor to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor.  He would usually push the pace after leaping up to get defensive boards, and he would outwork his opponents to get offensive rebounds.  He also managed to tip a ball to a teammate to help his team get a board on offense, but Preston did commit one foul going for an offensive board, as he ended up pushing an opponent in the back to try to do so.

Preston can make some good defensive plays when he is focused, and his best play on defense was when he rotated quickly to block a shot from the blindside to himself, as he also came away with the defensive board on that possession.  He also has the agility to stay in front of opposing ball handlers on drives, and he also contested a three-point shot late in the game to force a miss.  However, he can tend to have lapses defensively, as he may not always be the most focused defender.  Early on, he committed an off ball foul when defending a cut, as he grabbed an opponent that time.  He also had his hands down when defending his man out on the perimeter, which led his opponent to successfully throw an easy entry pass to a teammate.

Preston also had a tendency to be late on his rotations, as he would occasionally hang in a zone rather than pick up a man, and then he would struggle to defend his opponent, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  He also had a tendency to sag far off of his man, though his opponents didn’t usually make him pay for doing so, but he did allow an opponent to score once on a three-point shot after giving him the space to do so.

In general, Billy Preston is a talented big man that may have considerable upside, as he could project to be a versatile scorer that may be particularly adept at getting his own shot up off the dribble.  However, he also has a tendency to take questionable shots, to be a ball stopper, and he also will need to improve his concentration and positioning on the defensive end.  Preston may have the potential to be a successful player in the NBA someday, but he does not seem to be ready to play in the league right now, but with more seasoning and development, he could get there eventually.  He might not be the most polished player, but Preston is a talented big man that may have the skills, athleticism, and the upside to end up being a second round pick as a draft and stash candidate in 2018.

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