2022 NBA Draft Prospect Previews: Tyson Etienne could be a great shooting specialist in the NBA

Detroit Bad Boys

Tyson Etienne is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound guard out of Wichita State University. Known primarily as a shooter, Etienne tested the draft waters last season before ultimately deciding to return to Wichita State where he look to lead the Shockers to an NCAA tournament appearance. Etienne will be in the running for best shooter in this year’s draft and let’s dive into his numbers to start to see why.

Tyson Etienne by the Numbers

Last season at Wichita State Etienne averaged the following per game stats:

  • 16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.1 blocks

His shooting splits were:

  • 34.2% from two-point range, 39.2% from three point distance, and 75.7% from the free throw line

His advanced statline was:

  • 53.5% True Shooting, 16.1 Assist Percentage, 7.2% Turnover Rate, 24.1% Usage

I am certain some of you look at that two-point percentage and say, “OK, I’m out.” As Lee Corso says, not so fast, my friends! Etienne was not a complete one-man show at Wichita State last year, but he did shoulder an immense offensive responsibility that had him take some less than desirable shots because no one else on his team could.

This is not to excuse this poor shooting percentage from two-point land, but as I will show here there is certainly aspects to his game Etienne needs work on and he is not as bad or inefficient as the two-point percentage might suggest.

What Tyson Etienne He Does Well

Shooting. Shooting. And Shooting. To say Etienne is a long-range specialist is underselling the impact his three-point shooting can make on a basketball court. Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about a legit 30-foot-plus shooter. Etienne is able to sink shots far behind the three-point line. Please do me a favor, in every clip I post or link to PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE ETIENNE IS ON THE COURT WHEN HE SHOOTS. More often than not he is a good 2-3 feet behind the line and even makes some logo shots—just like he did on the game-winning shot for Wichita State’s first game this season.

Cade even got to see first-hand the impact Etienne can make on the court early last season at Oklahoma State. Cade pulled out the win at the end of that game, by the way.

In one of Etienne’s most complete games last season he dropped 20 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal on Temple shooting 2-of-4 from two-point range, 4-of-8 from three-point distance, and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line.

Etienne remains aggressive when asked to score or defend. While this can get him into trouble at times, I list this under his strengths because you want your leading scorer to be in attack mode all the time. And yes, while this did negatively effect his two-point percentage, let’s dive into his team context to understand just how much work Etienne was putting in last season.

Etienne took a total of 283 field goals and 166 three-point attempts. He scored 359 points and got to the free-throw line 111 times. He had one other teammate who had a similar offensive load in Alterique Gilbert who took 221 shots so it would seem he had major help from at least one other teammate, but Gilbert managed to score 227 points on those 221 shots. This inefficiency showed up not only in Gilbert’s shooting splits of 39.5/28.9/71.4 but also in his points per game which ended up being 10.3.

Etienne’s 166 three-point attempts were also 59 more than his next closest teammate in Dexter Dennis. And while 107 three-point attempts seem like it would help, Dennis only managed to shoot 33.6% on those 107 attempts. Etienne also had the second most assists on the team with 55. Gilbert lead the way in the playmaking department with 94 and the player in third place, Trey Wade, was a good 21 assists behind Etienne with 34. So to recap, Etienne had to be the focal point of the offense, provide consistent spacing with very little help, and be the secondary playmaker.

This is a ton of responsibility for any player to shoulder, yet Etienne managed to do a great job leading the way for the Shockers to post a 16-6 record and slot in the First Four at the NCAA Tournament. While the team cam up short, losing by a point to Drake it is a testament to Etienne’s offensive abilities that the team got this far. And really, there are very few shooters whose game effects their teams winning percentage as much as Etienne.

What He Needs to Improve

Some may say everything else (as in everything else but shooting) when it comes to the areas Etienne needs to show major improvement, but I do not think that is ENTIRELY fair. What I do think is fair is criticizing his shot selection inside the three-point arc and his over-aggressiveness on defense. Let’s take a look at some film against Houston to get an idea what I mean.

Let’s start with his defense. You will see in this film far too often Etienne is swiping at players trying to get the steal. It does not matter if that is his man or if they are in the zone he is supposed to be covering, he is going for that ball! While part of this is on the scheme as this is what he is asked to do, this is a bad habit that will lead to fouls and, more damaging to Etienne’s team, open shots as Etienne leaves his man to chase the steal.

You will also see Etienne become a turnstile on high ball screens, letting his man go and funneling him to the interior defenders, but I am more forgiving of this as this is how the scheme is built for the Shockers. However, I am forgiving of it mainly because you will see Etienne in one-on-one, man-to-man situations on point guards in this game and he stays attached and does not get shook. So we see he can do this, but needs more reps doing it. Also, in these situation he is not swiping for steals, but keeping his hands up to contest—both incredibly positive indicators for me that he knows how to play man-to-man defense.

So about his shot selection though…This is where the word over-aggressive applies the most. As I discussed in What He Does Well, most nights Etienne HAS TO score for his team to have any chance of winning, but that doesn’t excuse some of the things he does to try and get those points. Jacking up 3s with 25 seconds on the shot clock, driving into double and triple coverage and hoisting up attempts, putting his head down and going full steam off a pick his teammate hasn’t fully set yet—all of these you will see in the film above against Houston.

Every year in the NBA Draft there are guys where the No. 1 question is, “Can you adjust to being a role player in the NBA?,” and Etienne is definitely on that list this year. While Etienne’s usage last year was 24.1%, I think you can see by now he is THE man in Wichita. He’ll have to find his offense more within the flow of on offense if he wants to make through even year one of the NBA if he is to have any kind of NBA career.

How Will Etienne Fit with the MotorCade?

It would be easy to say any team needs a legit volume shooter who can consistently drain shots from 30 feet and out. So, Etienne’s fit is great for just about any team in my opinion, but for the MotorCade he would open up many more rotation possibilities.

“But Steve!,” you say, “don’t the Pistons already have this kind of player already on the team with Frank Jackson?” To which I would reply, No. Both Jackson and Etienne are guards who are thought of first and foremost as shooters, but that’s where their similarities end. Eitenne has shown WAY more point guard skills than Jackson. While he functioned more as the shooting guard next to Alterique Gilbert last season, he still posted 55 assists to 26 turnovers last year. If there is one area his over aggression does not show up is with his playmaking where he is more poised and measured as evidence by this 2.12 to 1 assist to turnover ratio.

Etienne also shows more intensity on the defensive side of the ball. Jackson fills his role admirably on the Pistons (his ability to attack closeouts is supremely underrated in my opinion), but Etienne has the potential to do more than just fill a role. Again, go back to both pieces of film and Etienne is never overmatched—even when lined up against guys like the 6’5” Quentin Grimes.

And it cannot be overstated enough how much Etienne’s ability to pull up from 30 feet and out changes the geometry of his team’s offense. Defenders will be pulled out further and his teammates have much more space to operate.

Etienne could be a volume shooter next to Cade to give him way more room to operate. If the Pistons wanted to go smaller, then Etienne, Killian, and Cade give a great three guard lineup with skills that actually compliment each other: Cade leading scorer, Killian spots plus drive-and-kick, Etienne bombs away shooter. And if they want to start Etienne’s career bringing him off the bench, then I feel confident he could fill a Bones Hyland role as a rookie.

As evidence in the game against Houston last season we see a lot of good and bad with Etienne, but what we don’t see a timid player who does not understand what his skills are and how they fit into his team. And more than anything, Etienne’s aggression would be just what Dee-troit Basket-ball loves and needs.

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