Nassir Little: Defense

Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.


 
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On-ball defense

Little’s strong frame allows him to stay in front of most players. He moves his feet well enough to contain most wings, but sometimes has trouble staying in front of smaller, quicker perimeter players. His foot speed suggests he could one day learn to contain these types of players, but his initial reaction time needs work in order to reach this level. If he does, he could be one of the better point-of-attack isolation defenders in the league.


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Off-ball defense

Little rotates well one pass away and applies pressure to the ball handler through doubling down or digging. His effectiveness off-ball wanes when he has to navigate rotations and communicate. He is much more effective as a strong side help defender than when on the weak side.


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Help defense

Little’s athleticism allows him to cover ground and closeout back to his man, but his technique needs improvement. While he does execute a few nice looking closeouts, it does not happen as consistently as one would like. He can be blown by easily, and sometimes stops short of his man. It appears as though he is overly wary of fouling his man and, as a result, gives up too much airspace.


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Switching

For the same reason he has potential as an isolation defender, Little has a high ceiling as a switch defender. His blend of lateral speed and strength will allow him to switch onto most wings and off-ball guards. He should be able to handle some lower level low-post players on switches because of his core strength and low base. He will need to improve his technique in order to reliably contain high-level post threats and lead guards.


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High impact plays

Little is not a playmaker on defense. He does not make many out of area plays other than the occasional double when one pass away. He has active hands when guarding his man, but this rarely translates to his off-ball impact. In order to improve this, he will have to improve his weak side awareness as a defender. He has the tools to become a terror off-ball if he can do so.