NBA Draft '19: Michael Weathers Season Preview
Photo Credit: Nick Graham/ Dayton Daily News
Changing horses mid-stream is a hell of a gamble.
If you attempt it while chasing the roster opportunities & paydays that come with being a professional athlete, that risk increases dramatically. For every athlete you hear of that gambles & wins, there are countless others you don't hear of that aren't so lucky. Oklahoma State sophomore point guard Michael Weathers has taken the bet, & is hoping that it pays off.
Unlike most of the other college prospects you'll read about here at OTG, Weathers has already played a year of NCAA ball with the University of Miami (Ohio), back in 2016-17; & just quietly, was being talked about during that season as a first round possible first round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Following a solid freshman year (16.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.8 apg) that included MAC Freshman of the Year & MAC All-Freshman Team honors, he ignored the Draft & decided to transfer to a different school (& redshirt the 2017-18 season), originally saying that he wanted to be closer to home. After considering Nevada, Arkansas, Xavier, and Miami (Florida - so much for “close to home”), Weathers chose to restart his college career in 2018 at Oklahoma State’s Stillwater campus.
(The decision to leave Miami of Ohio was also made at the same time by his twin brother & fellow RedHawk, 6'5 forward Marcus; he is now at Duquesne.)
At 6'2 & 170 when soaking wet, you wouldn't think that the point guard from Shawnee Mission, Kansas would be a physically imposing figure on the court – especially when you see the grin that seems to be permanently affixed to his face everywhere he goes. Fortunately, nobody told Weathers that. Blessed with both a lightning first step & an elite vertical leap, Weathers is always looking to use that explosive power on offense to either blow by opponents and finish at the rim (he can throw down a surprisingly powerful two-hander), or to cross guys over & hit the step back jumper. All of that energy can cause him to be more erratic than you'd like (his assist-to-turnover ratio is 1:1), but most college coaches would prefer the task of focusing over-motivated players to the task of coaxing energy out of unmotivated ones.
Weathers is a lot more of a driver than a shooter, especially from range (22% from three on 2.7 attempts per game at Miami of Ohio). However, this may have more to do with not needing to shoot than not being any good at it; he was clearly faster than everybody else in the MAC, which allowed him to drive like he was on the Autobahn. Facing a higher caliber of defenders in the Big 12 should give a better indicator of whether his 77% free throw rate can translate to a consistent mid-to-long range stroke.
On defense, that energy is still there to see (which is a good thing: you don't get a regular spot in the pros when you're under 6'4 unless you can either pass like Steve Nash, shoot like Steph Curry, or be a goddamned pest when you don't have the ball.) Weathers seems to be equally comfortable hassling defenders on the perimeter (1.9 steals per game) as he is in the paint, where he averaged 1.4 blocks per game - for comparison, “King of the Blocking Guards” Dwyane Wade has never averaged above 1.3 bpg (against MUCH better opposition, but still...) Of course, the higher the level of competition, the bigger the opponents, & it will be interesting to see whether he can maintain that defensive intensity against taller timber.
And, of course...there's still that year off.
While transferring to a larger market opens up opportunities for more substantial tournament play & increased media attention, the caveat is that those opportunities only really help you personally benefit if you are the one that makes it happen on the court. The Cowboys' lineup is still far from settled (only 6 players at time of writing), so it would seem that he'll be given the minutes; now it's just a question of whether he can keep up with the bigger, faster Big 12. And just like on the court, Weathers is choosing to bet on his pace.