Blake Hinson confident he can help teams immediately with floor-spacing and defense: ‘I feel like I could be like a Klay Thompson’

David Akerman
8 Min Read
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, tons of NBA draft prospects go under the radar for a variety of reasons.

Forward Blake Hinson might be among the best lesser-known prospects available in the 2024 NBA Draft, and the 24-year-old is ready to make his mark in the league immediately.

“I don’t really wanna just be there just to be there and just be gone, but I really wanna be there and play a part in winnin’,” Hinson told Ahn Fire Digital in an exclusive interview. “Ultimately, get a ring, put yourself, stamp yourself in history in the league.”

His college career took him many places, finishing out with two years at the University of Pittsburgh, where he averaged 16.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while knocking down 40.1 percent of his shots from deep. He credits his time at Pitt for helping him become secure in who he is, something he stresses is important as he enters a league full of notable stars.

Sometimes, players who were college stars have difficulty transitioning to lesser roles in the pros. That doesn’t seem like it will be the case with Hinson.

One drawback that’s likely playing a big part in Hinson not being talked about all too much is his age. Some teams might be hesitant in using a draft pick on a 24-year-old rookie, but Hinson isn’t worried about that, pointing to his positivity in the locker room as one of his best attributes.

The self-proclaimed “simple dude” is also “extremely confident” that he’ll be able to make an immediate impact, and being an older rookie is something that might help in that aspect.

“Somebody who can space the floor and relieve pressure on defense is – I think is the role that a lot of teams are looking for, and I think I can fill that role,” Hinson said regarding what type of role he sees himself fitting into immediately.

Perhaps the play of Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Ben Sheppard (both 2023 first-rounders that were 22 years old when the 2023-24 regular season started) will convince teams to take more chances on older prospects in the first and second rounds.

Fans might not be all too accustomed with Hinson’s defense due to the role he played at Pitt, but that’s something that he understands and seemingly doesn’t have any issue with. He feels that his reputation as a defender will grow during his time in the pros.

At around 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, he’s definitely got a solid build that should help him stand out on defense. Furthermore, he’s got a wingspan of nearly 6-foot-11.

Hinson has been having a positive predraft process, mentioning that he’s been showing teams his talent and progression in his body, with the latter being a focal point for him this summer.

He’s worked out for teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors. Both squads have aging stars and definitely could use players like Hinson who are ready to contribute now.

Other teams he’s worked out for include the San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers.

There’s no doubt that Hinson will mainly make his mark in the league via his shooting. During the 2023-24 season, he made at least five 3-pointers on seven separate occasions, reaching a season-high of nine 3s twice.

Don’t get it twisted, though, because he can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim as well as hit some midrange shots. He’s got some solid three-level scoring that could be very useful for a team off the bench right now.

He doesn’t really model his game after anyone, but there’s a certain star he thinks he could end up being like.

“If I was to try to reach my ultimate ceiling, I feel like I could be like a Klay Thompson if I met my just utmost ceiling in this basketball stuff,” Hinson said. “I would love to affect the game like he does. The gravity of his shootin’ without many dribbles is somethin’ I feel like I could do.”

Thompson is a five-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA selection and generally viewed as one of the better defenders of his generation. Most of all, he’s a four-time NBA champ. While Hinson would surely be happy with the types of individual accomplishments Thompson has, he’s definitely focused on doing whatever it takes to win once he gets to the league.

Whatever team ends up acquiring Hinson will be getting a player who isn’t just satisfied with making it to the league. For a lot of players, that might be the ultimate goal. However, the Florida native has bigger things in mind.

“Honestly, as my older self now, I have bigger dreams than just gettin’ some minutes in the NBA,” he said about what it would mean to play at least one game in the NBA. “Just like I said, I really do feel like I can play and compete and be a contender, one of the better players, but that’s an older me dream that I wanna fulfill. But a younger me dream is puttin’ on the jersey and gettin’ in the game, and that’s what that would mean. It would fulfill that dream for the younger me.”

Hinson doesn’t have a specific team he wants to play for, but he’s definitely excited to play in Orlando, Fla., which is pretty close to his hometown. The two-time All-ACC selection admits that his family might be more excited about him entering the NBA than he is since his dreams are different from when he was younger.

As he put it, all his family is concerned about is “that childhood me, which is the person they know best.” Even so, the fact that his family is more excited than he is is “great,” according to Hinson.

Despite his last two seasons in college being very productive, Hinson doesn’t appear on many mock drafts. While he could be a second-round pick, he might be looking at having to enter the league on a two-way contract or fighting his way through Summer League and training camp to make it onto a roster.

Proving his way through Summer League and preseason likely wouldn’t be a tough task for him at all. Two of the things he’s looking forward to the most about being in the NBA are being competitive and winning. Hinson mentioned that being “secure in who you are is very important.”

It’s more than clear that he is just that — and ready to take on whatever is thrown at him in the NBA.

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David is a Miami native and University of Maryland graduate who has experience in writing, editing and video production. He has been following the NBA and NFL for as long as he can remember.