Wing | 6’7” | 235 lbs. | Freshman (used extra year of eligibility | Age: 20
2021-22 stats (32 games): 16.8 PPG | 7.9 RPG | 1.7 APG | 1.1 SPG | 44.0 FG% | 34.9 3P% | 53.9 TS% | 19.9 PER
Length, length, and even more length:
With multiple of the Heat prospects I’ve already looked at, one thing is common: They all have plus length. But it’s perhaps the most evident in Lewis, standing at 6-foot-7 with a near 7-foot-3 wingspan! That’s approximately a plus-seven reach and certainly his makes all the more intriguing as a prospect when determining his potential.
Given his size, Lewis might be one of the best rebounding wings in this class, hauling in nearly eight per game. He tallied six double-doubles and was the top rebounder for a poor rebounding team, though don’t let that last bit deceive you. His effort and will to battle on the glass is there. He’s not super vertically athletic, but will run into a few because of his length, strength and constant motor.
Offensively, Lewis did a bit of everything: He was utilized as a screener, floor spacer (with his vastly improved shot), post-up threat, in the dunker spot, etc. Defensively, he could spearhead Shaka Smart’s full-court press; he could switch on the perimeter and carries the potential to guard 2 thru 4 at the next level. He’s a versatile player. And we both know a team that starves for versatile two-way talent.
Can his shot keep improving?
As I talked about with Wendell Moore, one very good shooting season makes me irrationally nervous when looking at a prospect. It shows signs of an improving player developing his game, and I guess it can’t hurt Miami too much since they’re at the tail-end of the first round — but it would still make me go “Hmmmm....?” Lewis particularly grew from the free-throw and 3-point line. He shot 34.9 percent from distance on considerably higher volume than he did as a freshman, when he shot 21.9 percent. He also upped his free-throw percentage by nearly 20 percentage points — from 57.7 percent to 76.1 percent. That’s incredible improvement and should continue developing at the next level, but it’s a question nonetheless.
The current consensus on Lewis is that he’s a late first-round, early second-round prospect. So I expect he’ll be available at No. 27, barring something unexpected in the picks leading up to Miami. Lewis is a modern-day forward that can score both inside and outside and is good defensively and on the glass. Should he get selected at 27, he could definitely slot in as a stretch-4 off the bench with a Miami Heat squad that needs wing/frontcourt depth. He’s a good fit.
Highlights/Games to watch:
What others are saying about him:
Justin Lewis is a wide-bodied forward with a low center of gravity and a high skill level. At 6-7 he fits the mold of a modern-day combo forward who has versatility on both ends of the floor.
Lewis has a nice mid range game and is showing promise as an outside shooter. He’s not a high volume 3pt shooter but is developing his shooting range and should become a reliable threat to stretch the floor.
Lewis moves well for a player his size and is a fluid athlete who obviously has a lot of power as well.
He’s a good decision maker with the ball and shows good instincts on both ends of the floor.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman:
Shooting is key for Lewis, and he shot noticeably well during drills. He also measured in at around 235 pounds, roughly 10 less than his in-season playing weight, which is a good sign for his potential to move more easily while defending the perimeter.
Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo:
Lewis’s outstanding physical tools make him an intriguing developmental pick: he’s a good rebounder with a huge wingspan who is working to make his game more perimeter-oriented. He’s a good set shooter already, and if he can get more comfortable playing off one or two dribbles, he should have functionality as a combo forward. Lewis has already slimmed down a bit and needs to continue working on his mobility, but if he’s able to guard either forward spot in addition to spacing the floor competently, there’s a pathway to value. He’s not going to create a ton of shots for himself or teammates, but guys with his type of body and skill set tend to play up and find minutes, particularly if he buys into doing the small stuff more consistently on the defensive end. There’s some untapped upside here if a team develops him creatively.
The Athletic’s John Hollinger:
Lewis can be frustrating at times: A little too chilled out on defense, a little too jump-shot dependent on offense. I just can’t see how I could rank him any lower than this. He’s 6-6 with an enormous 7-2 wingspan, has a strong frame that should allow him to play four in almost any matchup if his team wants to size down, and he had a 32.5-inch standing vertical.
The basketball stuff went OK too. Lewis shot decently and on relatively high volume, and is very comfortable shooting off the dribble against smaller defenders. He rebounds well and can be a very good defender when in a stance and engaged.
The big thing that puts him at the tail end of my first-round grades, however, is that every team needs switchable forwards who can make an open shot. Lewis doesn’t even need to get that much better to fill in a back-end rotation spot, and he has upside to be quite a bit better.