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Aaron Epps is the Stretch 4 Teams Pine For

By Jacob Withee | June 11, 2020

Many front court players hold a high field goal percentage because most of their shots come around the rim. So, when you see Northern Arizona Suns forward Aaron Epps shot 49.3 percent throughout the 2019-20 NBA G League season, you might think that’s pretty standard. What you wouldn’t realize is Epps took half of his shots from the three-point line, and almost 60 percent of his attempts were from outside the paint, so his 49.3 FG% is actually quite incredible.

Epps, a 6-foot 10-inch player who came out of LSU, is the pure definition of a stretch 4. Owning a smooth shooting stroke, he draws his defender out of the paint, which opens up room for the offense. Epps made 39.7 percent from beyond the arc, the third best clip on the team. Among fellow 6’10” or taller players in the league, Epps had the highest three-point percentage (min. 20 3PA) and was one of five to attempt 100+ shots from distance. In fact, only one player 6-feet 8-inches or taller had a better three-point percentage with at least 100 attempts – Dean Wade, a Two-Way player with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Canton Charge.

This was Epps’ second year on the NAZ Suns after being drafted sixth overall in the 2018 NBA G League Draft. He’s played in 86 career games, third most in team history behind Josh Gray (95) and Eric Stuteville (93).

Year-over-year, Epps’ numbers largely stayed consistent. His averages in scoring (10.2 PPG), FG% (.493) and rebounds (6.5 RPG) were near identical to what he averaged in 2018-19. His biggest improvement was his efficiency from deep, improving from a 36.4 percent outside clip last year.

Before the season was suspended and ultimately canceled, Epps was playing his best ball of his career. He was on a career-long streak of scoring 10+ points at seven games with three double-doubles in the span, averaging 15.3 points and 7.6 rebounds. On March 6, Epps recorded his 16th career double-double, the most by a player in team history. He also has the most career rebounds (566), defensive rebounds (421) and blocks (66) in team history as well.

He scored three 20+ point games on the year, including a 22-point, 10-rebound outing vs. Texas on Dec. 10 in which he made 9-of-11 shots, 4-of-5 from deep. That game was one of three in which he shot 75+ FG% with 10+ FGA, one of 16 players in the league with three or more such games all season.

In his 11 starts this year, he averaged 14.0 points and 7.7 rebounds, compared to his 8.7 PPG and 5.9 RPG averages when coming off the bench.

So, it’s pretty easy to see that Epps is the definition of a stretch 4. The 6-foot 10-inch forward shoots 39.7 percent from distance while averaging 6.5 rebounds. He has the most rebounds in team history and the fourth most career three-point makes (129). The tape shows he has the inside moves, the midrange game, and the blocking ability, in addition to what’s already been mentioned. Epps is a secret weapon that should certainly not be a secret anymore.

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