Tyler Lydon's arrival came unexpectedly when it was announced that the Sacramento Kings had signed the former Denver Nugget to a minimum deal. However, it made more sense that they were looking for additional deep threats and they potentially have one if Lydon works out.
It’s fairly difficult to dive deeply into Lydon’s NBA game because through two seasons in Denver, he’s accumulated only 96 total minutes and that’s too minute of a sample size to accurately dictate how he’ll turn out in Sacramento - but we’ll make it work.
Out of 18 total shot attempts this past season, 10 of those materialized from deep and he converted four of them. The math easily calculates his three point percentage out to 40 percent. Despite the extremely low volume as he only played in late game situations, he was actually a straight 40 percent shooter from three in two college seasons at Syracuse (on 3.5 attempts per game).
Lydon loved to display his threatening range in college and glimpses of that were expressed throughout his minimal NBA attempts.
That range allows him the potential to succeed as a pick-and-pop player in the NBA like he does here.
In college, Lydon failed to cause havoc as a pick-and-roll big and one of the reasons for that comes down to his size. He stands at 6’10” but his wingspan doesn’t surpass 7’0”, which holds concerns on both ends of the floor.
His offensive arsenal tended to deteriorate once he rolled to the rim as his passiveness led to floaters and overall wasn’t a reliable roll big. In his final season at Syracuse, he was the roll big for 32 possessions that resulted in 0.469 points per possession, slotting him in the abysmal 2nd percentile, per Synergy.
Additionally on defense, his size was easy for bigger centers and forwards to muscle through and he lacked the fluid lateral movements to stay in front of smaller and quicker players. This led to troubles and questions regarding his defensive identity because who does he guard?
But Sacramento doesn’t need Lydon to showcase his roll skills that haven’t developed or stout defense - just his shooting and then you go from there.
When Lydon was unguarded in catch and shoot situations (36 poss.) in his last season at Syracuse, he scored 1.611 points per possession, elevating him into the 93rd percentile, per Synergy.
You couldn’t afford to leave him open in college because he was deadly from anywhere as he held a well-balanced stroke that released quick and that could possibly bode well for him playing on a team that plans to shoot numerous threes.
If Lydon isn’t occupying space beyond the arc, he typically capitalized on offensive rebounds. In his final season in college (lots of these due to lack of NBA samples), there were 44 possessions in which Lydon got in position for a putback and it resulted in 1.386 PPP, good for the 90th percentile.
His movement fluidity on defense was a problem but offensively, his motions are more smooth and he had a nice bounce around the rim as shown in the clip. His athleticism is an underrated aspect of his game and there could be moments where that is illustrated on the court like it was previously in his career. If you recall, his first basket this past season came on a cutting dunk against the Kings.
The bounce also proved to be handy on defense, where he averaged 1.6 blocks in his college career and a block percentage of 5.8.
If Lydon works out well and makes the team, it’ll be great for him monetarily (he gets more guaranteed money the longer he’s on the squad this year) and the team will add another sharpshooter. In the case that the experiment fails, there’s no major downside because the rotation won't crumble without him.
Attempting to allocate minutes to the loaded big man situation in Sacramento is challenging, but utilizing Lydon as an end-of-the-bench sharpshooter when necessary could be beneficial if he impresses enough. And if that impression continues, his size and shooting can be key in small ball play.
Lydon is a highly self-aware player and despite those issues with size and creation of offense inside the arc, it’s simple to see why the Kings enjoyed his shooting potential.