In the modern day NBA, the game is won and lost on the perimeter. Guys who can space the floor have become a critical part of nearly every high functioning offense in the league. University of Kansas wing Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk embodies that like few other prospects the Pistons could be looking at. The senior guard shot nearly 41% from three over his college career, including 44% as a senior where he averaged 14.6 points per game for the Jayhawks. This 21 year-old European has all the tools to play both shooting guard and small forward; with the fluidity and skill of a guard and the 6’8 size of a forward.
Mykhailiuk is a shooter, first and foremost. He excelled at catching and shooting the three as well as being able to put it on the floor to avoid closing defenders and resetting for three. This skill set was on display often, having made five or more threes in nine games (which was more than 25% of the games he played) as a senior. By the end of his career he finished 4th in Kansas’ history in three-pointers made. This ability to shoot the ball should keep him in the league for many years.
In terms of his other skills, Mykhailiuk is solid across the board. He is a decent athlete as shown at the NBA combine where he ranked 6th among small forwards in standing vertical leap, 4th in the three quarters sprint, 4th in max vertical leap, 7th in lane agility and 8th in the shuttle run. In short he isn’t great in any one area athletically, but he isn’t bad either.
While Mykhailiuk doesn’t create a lot of opportunities for his teammates, he’s a decent passer who will not stop the ball. And despite not being the ball handler to be a point forward type, he can handle pressure fairly well. He’s not flashy, but he’s a very capable passer and that should translate to the next level.
Additionally, Mykhailiuk has much more experience than the typical NBA prospect. On top of spending four years at Kansas, one of the nations most prestigious basketball schools, he also played for the Ukrainian national team as a teenager. This means he has a more advanced knowledge of the the game and what it’s like to play on the big stage more than most of the younger prospects in the draft.
Mykhailiuk is not a strong defender. He will have trouble staying in front of quicker shooting guards and his wingspan, at only 6’5, is too short to bother the shots of most lengthy small forwards. This is a weakness to his game that will never go away due to his physical limitations.
He also leaves a lot to be desired as a rebounder. Despite being a fairly good leaper, he still struggles on the glass when matched up with longer forwards. He may improve some in this area, just based on the effort he wants to put into his rebounding, but he will again always be limited due to his physical tools.
Offensively Mykhailiuk is pretty good across the board with great shooting ability. However, he only averaged 8.7 points per game over his career. This tells me that he lacks the aggressive scoring nature to take over games. As a result he may never be more than a good role player.
How does he fit?
It’s no secret that the Pistons need a backup small forward and Mykhailiuk would fit that role well. He brings a very different skill set than Stanley Johnson (the Pistons starting small forward) and could take minutes away from him when the team needs scoring on the floor. He could also see time sub in for Luke Kennard in the future as a backup shooting guard, depending on what the Pistons decide to do with Reggie Bullock who is entering the final year of his contract. Either way, the Pistons could always use a sharp shooting wing.
The projection for Mykhailiuk ranges. I have seen him predicted to go towards the top of the second round, but more commonly in the mid to late part of the second round. So it’s not a lock that he’ll still be on the board when Detroit picks at 42, but it seems likely based on what most experts anticipate.
Based on what I’ve seen from him, Mykhailiuk would be great shooting depth off the bench. With Bullock’s future in Detroit uncertain and Johnson failing to really find his niche in the league, an additional forward with a good offensive skill set makes a lot of sense. He’s a low maintenance player who knows his role and who he is. I project him to be a Kyle Korver-type guy who should have a long NBA career.