Scouting: Jeremy Saffold

Name: Jeremy Saffold
Date of Birth: 3rd of September 1991
Nationality: USA
Height: 1.98m
Weight: 88kg
Pro Since: 2013
Last Club: Büyükcekmece Basketbol
Role: 3&D Wing
Key Skills: Defense, Offensive Rebounding, Shooting
Stats: 8.5 PPG (43.8/31.1/80.6), 4.8 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.8 TPG


Background

Jeremy Saffold is a 28-year-old Forward from Illinois, who had quite a unique career so far. He played for Büyükcekmece in Turkey last season and only made the team because Osiris Eldridge (also Büyükcekmece) saw him in a summer tournament in Chicago and convinced him to give the overseas life a second try. Saffold had to impress in a one week tryout before he signed a deal for the remainder of the season and in the end averaged 8.5 points and almost 5 rebounds per game for the Turkish club. The 3&D forward played in Georgia (13/14) and Italy (14/15) before a torn patella tendon changed his career in 2015 and tried minor league basketball next to coaching before he made his way back to the pro level. Saffold wasn’t in the easiest situation last year playing for a loosing team with some money issues, but nevertheless convinced decision makers, that’s he’s more than able to make an impact at the highest level.


Strengths

Defense. Saffold is a tweener at the 3/4 spot and a really good defender. The 28-year old possesses the ability to defend multiple positions and while his primary matchup might be the opposing wing at the start of the game, he can switch out onto guards and PF’s and hold his own. He isn’t superb at guarding heavier 4’s, but definitely versatile enough with his size and his super long arms to impact the game! He contests and alters shots thanks to his elite wingspan and is a really good defender when he locks in. While his impact isn’t directly linked to the system that’s in place, Saffold can really flourish in a switch-heavy system and guard whoever is in front of him. He can improve his defensive positioning and has to get lower when he’s chasing guys around screens, but he showed more than once that he’s capable of doing that. If he continues his steady learning curve he will more than validate his reputation as a quality halfcourt defender and should continue to embrace his role as a multipositional stopper with great potential.

Offensive Rebounding. Saffold is not only a really versatile defender, but also a good offensive rebounder. He’s really active and energetic and crashes the offensive glass on a regular. He always tries to get second chance points and really works his butt off to come up with the ball. He gets himself in position early under the rim and beats opponents to their spot. Thanks to his motor and his wingspan he’s able to get 50/50 balls and if opposing teams don’t box him out they are in for a rude awakening. He’s always a threat no matter if his shot is falling or not and can easily grab one or two offensive boards each game.

Offensive upside. Saffold might not be a dominant scorer at the highest level (yet), but at worst can move the ball and knock down open threes as a spot-up shooter. He can surely let it fly either as a floor spacer or in isolation or pick and roll situations and mostly tries to shoot over the defense with one dribble pull-ups. The US-forward attacks closeouts either looking for the midrange J or the straight line drive and can punish defenders that aren’t fully locked in. Saffold loves to score around the rim with cuts, power dribbles and putbacks and is always somewhere near the cup to pick up some points. Overall he has to be more consistent as a shooter and more creative as a finisher inside the paint, but possesses room for improvement even at this age and has the potential be more than “just” a 3 and D guy.


Weaknesses

Lack of elite athleticism and quickness. While his size and his wingspan are certainly great, Saffold lacks elite quickness and athleticism to be even more of a factor on both ends. He’s not a good driver and finisher on offense and has to rely on his jumpshot a lot. He regularly stops in the midrange area after attacking the closeout to shoot a (contested) pull-up two and while he can attack the rim here and there, he clearly prefers the jumper. In isolations he almost exclusively takes the pull-up shot and has trouble scoring when the defense is in his grill. His shot selection isn’t the best at times and his %’s aren’t always where they need to be. He’s also not good in transition, where he isn’t able to quickly accelerate and rather struggles with his unique/awkward looking running style.

Shooting consistency. While the potential to become a really solid shooter is definitely there, Saffold in fact only shot 31% from the three-point line last season and at times struggled to convert from downtown. Most of his attempts, especially at the beginning of the season, were (semi-)open spotup’s and while he did a decent job there, it’s absolutely vital that he hits them at an even higher clip to take and make the next step. While he’s somewhat streaky from long range, Saffold has untapped potential as a midrange shooter and has shown on some occasions that he can get buckets against any kind of defense thanks to his high release point. He can knock it down in isolation situations but has to become a true master there in order to hide the fact that he’s not really dangerous with the drive. If he ups his accuracy to around 35(+)% from three and continues to get better as a midrange pull-up guy, he can definitely overshadow some of his deficencies and make opposing teams pay for leaving him open.

Finishing against contact. While there’s reasonable optimism when it comes to his shooting, there’s some scepticism when it comes to his finishing at the rim. Although he plays with good physicality, Saffold struggles to convert against contact and has problems at times when the layup gets contested. He loves to use power dribbles near the rim and tries to bully through guys, but struggles to lay it in. He’s not a good leaper nor a creative finisher and really is predictable at times. The biggest reason for that might be his reluctance to leap off of one foot. He almost always goes up with both feet and tries to finish with both hands on the ball, resulting in bad misses and under the rim finishes. He should also look to gain some more strength to absorb contact better and should boost his somewhat lanky frame. Saffold shot below 50% at the rim and has to improve in that area if he wants to be a solid inside-out scorer.


Outlook

Jeremy Saffold is one of the most interesting under-the-radar guys this summer. Although he’s already 28 years old, he’s still far from a finished product and clearly wants to proof that he belongs to the highest level. He had to accept a tryout deal in Turkey to even get a deal again and definitely plays with a chip on his shoulder. While his percentages on offense aren’t outstanding, he could be a sneaky signing for a team that wants an unselfish glue-guy that can pretty much do everything on defense and convert open shots on offense. Saffold could be a great addition for a mid-level BBL team like Braunschweig or Göttingen and brings a certain DNA to the table that can’t be taken for granted. He needs to consistently lock in on defense and improve a little bit on offense to fully reach his potential, but if that happens there’s a pretty good chance that his next team will be more than happy to have him.

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