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How Sixers Two-Way Player Marial Shayok Should Be One Of The Best Rookies In The G League

Writer Dakota Schmidt takes an in-depth look at Philadelphia 76ers rookie guard Marial Shayok and examines why he should be one of the best rookies in the G League

Detroit Pistons v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Earlier today, a plethora of NBA teams ushered in the start of the 2019-20 season by holding their annual Media Day. This event represents the first time that fans will have a chance to see the players that their favorite teams acquired during the summer in an official capacity, whether answering questions from media or rocking their new uniforms.

One of the players that will be participating in that Media Day experience is former Iowa State guard Marial Shayok. After graduating, he was lucky enough to get selected with the 54th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Shortly after that selected, the 6’6 prospect was signed to a two-way deal, where he joined G League veteran Norvel Pelle. With that deal, he’ll be at the team’s Media Day event alongside stars like Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid. Although that core and most of the 76ers roster will deservedly receive more attention at Media Day, it doesn’t mean that fans should overlook the former Big 12 product.

The guard’s time in that conference was limited as he spent the first three years of his college career with Virginia. In that time, he stood as an unspectacular rotation guy that averaged 5.7 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist on 45% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc in 17 minutes per game. With production like that, it made sense for the Ottawa born player to seek other collegiate opportunities. Fortunately for the guard, Iowa State was looking for help at the wing after Naz Mitrou-Long, Deonte Burton and Matt Thomas all graduated.

After spending the 2017-18 year on the sidelines thanks to the NCAA’s transfer rules, Shayok was immediately able to step in and shine for the Cyclones. In 33 minutes per game, he averaged 17.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2 assists on 50% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc. Those numbers allowed him to career-best 61% True Shooting Percentage.

Unsurprisingly, the combination of tremendous volume and efficiency as a shooter pushed Shayok to get named to the All-Big 12 First team and the Big 12-’s All-Newcomer Team. In addition to getting props from his conference, the 6’5 guard was also one of the dozens of prospects featured as an Honorable Mention for the AP’s All-American team.

Those accolades and tremendous numbers were the product of Shayok’s well-rounded offensive game that allowed him to score in a variety of ways. During his lone season with Iowa State, he showed an ability to shine as a mid-range shooter, on-ball driver and perimeter threat.

Along with those four traits, his work as a perimeter threat stands out as his most prominent skill. That’s evident from a statistical standpoint as 40% of 13.6 attempts per game came from beyond the arc (5.4). Shayok’s reliance on long-range jumpers makes sense when you watch him play, as the guard has success whether he’s working in the catch-and-shoot or using dribble moves to get one. Among those two traits, his off-the-dribble work is the most appealing as the Iowa State alum loves to use a slick step-backs to create instant separation from his opponent.

An example of that is evident in the clip below from Iowa State’s January 5th game against Kansas. Immediately after receiving the ball from his teammate, Shayok does a mean pump fake move that pushes the Kansas defender to go airborne. While that defender struggles to find his footing, the 6’5 guard moves to the right, takes a step forward, and then pushes back to hit the open perimeter shot.

Shayok’s ability to use dribble moves to create his own shot is also evident from inside the perimeter. During his lone season at Iowa State, he was a fantastic mid-range shooter that hit 48% of his shots from 13 feet to the NCAA three-point line, according to shot charts from The Stepien. In addition to step-backs, the 24-year-old guard knows how to use off-ball screens to create some real separation between him and his defender. The video below is an excellent example of that as he uses dribble moves to the left and right to temporarily trap the defender in that screen before hitting the mid-range jumper.

Another way that those handles help the Iowa State out on the offensive end is through driving to the paint. Of course, this process starts on the perimeter as he can utilize a quick first step or hesitation moves to work past that initial defender. Following that initial defeat, he can complete his drive to both the left and right side of the court. When he reaches that destination, Shayok seems most comfortable with finishing at the rim with his right hand. While it may be disappointing that he isn’t ambidextrous in this area, the 6’5 guard is still a fantastic finisher as he’s shown a tremendous ability to finish in traffic. That knack helped him out as he shot an efficient 67% at the rim, according to The Stepien’s shot charts.

The one area where Shayok will need to improve during his rookie season would be as a facilitator. When you look at his college career with both Virginia and Iowa State, the numbers don’t look good as he averaged 1.3 assists per game with a 1.0 Ast/TO ratio. Although those low numbers may be blamed on his lesser role with Virginia or being a score-first threat with Iowa State, they’re still concerning when you consider how most NBA/G League teams look for multiple players to share the facilitating load. That’s especially the case with guards like our current subject, whose offensive presence and ability to drive can create a lot of opportunities for the other players on the court.

While those numbers are causes for concern, the Iowa State alum showed flashes of being a solid facilitator. An example of that is evident in the clip below where he’s able to drive closer to the rim before throwing up a beautiful alley-oop pass to forward Cameron Lard. If he exhibits more players like that at the G League level with the Delaware Blue Coats, those worries could quickly go away.

Speaking of his future run with the Delaware Blue Coats, the 24-year-old guard honestly has a chance to be one of the best rookies in the G League. Because from day 1, he’ll be a threat that teams will need to keep an eye on due to the ability to consistently hit off-the-dribble or catch-and-shoot jumpers both from mid-range and beyond the arc. Moreover, once teams start to focus start to guard tightly to prevent open jumpers, Shayok can use a hesitation move or quick first step to drive to the rim.

Those skills are solid enough that he should remain effective despite his weaknesses as a facilitator and defender. In regards to his play on the other end of the court, he’s pretty solid when it comes to defending guards one-on-one as his quick feet and 7-foot wingspan can prevent opposing guards from getting a good shot. However, the concerns come off-ball as Shayok is prone to ball watching and simply losing focus on his assignment.

An example is seen in the clip below where his focus dissipates once the ball starts to get passed around. Him losing concentration ends up hurting Iowa State’s defense as they need to adjust to deal with the newly opened guard immediately. While they’re eventually able to put a man on him, that isn’t enough as Baylor can score at the rim due to taking advantage of Shayok’s lack of concentration.

Although those defensive issues are a concern, Marial Shayok should still be a great guard for the Delaware Blue Coats when the G League season begins on November 8th.