By Max Rosenberg
As of May 22th 2022
#1 Chet Holmgren – Gonzaga F/C – 7’0” 195 lbs – 14.1 ppg/9.9 rpg/1.9 apg/3.7 bpg/ 60.7 FG%
Strengths – Skilled shooter for 7-footer. Fluid motion and form. Wingspan is almost 7’4”. Coordinated and mobile for a big. Very efficient floor spacer. Can knock down mid-range, 3 ball and be useful in pick and pop situations. Ambidextrous around the basket even though is a right-handed player. His bounce for rebounds and “second jump” spring is helpful in securing the board as well as shot blocking. FT shooting can be improved from 72% during the season as he is a career shooter closer to 78%. Good vision in high-low game to make correct reads/pass. Also adept at hitting cutters on the move in motion to allow them to finish or draw contact. Plays with intensity and is highly competitive but remains in control of his game.
Weaknesses – Frame definitely needs to be added to. While Holmgren isn’t afraid of physicality in the paint, he can easily be thrown off balance with contact due to lack of strength in his frame. Needs to learn to find base/center of gravity in post ups and defensively. Slow feet as a defender, especially on the perimeter, length does make up for some of this. Makes mistake of bringing ball down in midst of traffic where other players can pop it out and force unnecessary turnovers. Also has difficulty making correct read in double-teams, which can be helped as his game and vision develops further. Has Chet truly faced next level talent in the WCC? The Zags were atop the standings through most of the year and had a good mix of players around Holmgren so he didn’t have to carry the load. Personally, I feel his growth will be heavily intertwined with his commitment to transforming his body. There are similar players now in the league or on the radar overseas that may be in the league in the coming years, so while Holmgren still has some unicorn allure, to last and deliver on the potential many people see in him, he must commit to adding muscle to this frame and working on his foot speed on the perimeter.
Comparisons – The obvious choice here is Kristaps Porzingis from a height, shooting, skill and defensive projection. They certainly share the most in common in recent memory of any prospects but as Porzingis’s career has shown, a tall, yet (too) lean player could potentially become injury prone. His reach on defense and mobility with bounce can show flashes of Marcus Camby type development if properly fostered and worked on. Another recent player that was immediately impactful as a rookie and challenged for Rookie of the Year honors that shares similarities with Holmgren is Evan Mobley. In today’s NBA, offenses will not be running through many post players, but Mobley is able to lead the break and handle the ball securely enough that it isn’t a major worry. High level finishing, general basketball IQ and defensive skillset are also shared with the Holmgren/Mobley comparison.
#2 Jabari Smith – Auburn PF – 6’10” 220 lbs – 16.9 ppg/7.4 rpg/2.0 apg/1 bpg/1.1 spg/42.9 FG%
Strengths – Smith has an extremely smooth offensive game for a freshman who was relied upon this year as a focal point. Always seemed to play within his game and rarely got flustered by opposing defenses. Versatile enough to play and defend multiple positions and aware of weak side and help defensive positioning in greater schemes. 7-foot-1 wingspan allows him to be a disruptive defender as well as shoot over defenses. At one point during the year had a streak of 44% from beyond the arc on over 5 attempts during a 17-game stretch. Finished season connecting on 42% of attempts. High motor and always engaged on offense and defense and an intelligent decision maker with the ball in his hands. Quick first step offensively with ability to finish at the rim with high efficiency. Effective FT shooter as well at 80% clip during the year.
Weaknesses – While talented passer, improvements can be made here. Average ball-handler at this stage. Still could use more strength added to frame which would allow him to play more physical at the rim. Sometimes relies on long 2-point attempts or lower percentage mid-range shots due to losing place in offense at times. Rebounding can improve as well and should at next level if Smith can buy into scheme and not let an elite pivot man be relied upon for boards. Drives favoring right hand, while when he does sporadically drive to his left, Smith usually resorts to a turnaround jumper move.
Comparisons – Smith cuts a section from a multitude of players who’ve had very lengthy and successful careers. Obviously if he locks in and focuses on his craft, he can achieve similar heights. Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett come to mind watching Smith’s fluid play and skillset. Both Bosh and Garnett were high motor players and power dunkers. The extended range for a big man is more and more becoming the new normal. He also flashes part Rashard Lewis and Andrew Wiggins due to his perimeter game and height. While it seems Wiggins finally has come into a comfort level on the Warriors, Smith possesses more of an instinct to build around as a potential #1 or #2 option.
#3 Paolo Banchero – Duke F – 6’10” 250 lbs – 17.2 ppg/7.8 rpg/3.2 apg/ 1.1 spg/47.8 FG%
Strengths – Physically ready to step on to an NBA floor and can be expected to be able to hold his own at least. Consistent three level scorer and versatile enough to become an impact player at the next level. Wingspan just a shade over 7 feet. Can lead the break, handle the ball well and elevates at the rim. Able to draw contact and control his body to finish. High IQ shot selection and mature game overall. Mechanics and form on jumper are good. Banchero also displays good footwork and court vision. Able to see over defenses and can make the correct reads. Timing on passes is usually on point and he knows where to find teammates most times if he gets caught up in a situation without an option where he can score. Plays with balance and poise in his game. If shot is not falling, he is able to contribute in other ways due to skills and IQ.
Weaknesses – Banchero is an interesting case as the season wore on and teams keyed into him more defensively, he struggled to find his shot and hit his averages seeing multiple defensive strategies thrown his way. Being able to read defenses and know when to attack or pass in the motion of the offense will hopefully improve as he grows as a player and lead to less turnovers. Lateral quickness can be improved upon as well. If he hopes to be a perimeter player when playing defense, this absolutely must improve to keep pace with quicker players. Free throw percentage below 73% can also be worked on. Jump shot is streaky. When he sees the ball go in early, confidence builds and game flows better, if he misses early attempts, can be in for a bad night on the court. Must learn to overcome poor start and be able to impact the game accordingly if shot is not falling immediately.
Comparisons – Paolo is a tough straight comp for an NBA player, but another who shows bits and pieces of different players games all rolled into one. Blake Griffin comes to mind as Banchero’s hot spots are similar flashing his power and footwork with ability to sink shots and spread the floor as his range displays. Julius Randle is also a similar player offensively, with a wide frame and 3-point range and a good face up game. A leaner version of Chris Webber also jumps out as a similar player as Webber had the ability to pound in the post, sink a mid-range shot reliably and make the extra pass in the flow of the offense when needed.
#4 Jaden Ivey – Purdue PG/SG – 6’4” 195 lbs – 17.3 ppg/4.9 rpg/ 3.1 apg/ 0.8 spg/ 46 FG%
Strengths – Explosive combo guard. Speed and aggressiveness are keys to his game. Growth shown as playmaker and vision. Wingspan around 6’9” which can be helpful matchup wise on perimeter. Solid frame for position. Runs floor extremely well leading to easy buckets or finding easy points for his teammates. Explosive leaping ability off one or two feet and willing rebounder for his position. If he gets beat, his athleticism allows him to get back into plays and cause disruption or even a chase down block sighting. Strong defender overall as he can make reads on passing lanes or play solidly on ball defense. Will most likely be able to defend all perimeter positions at next level. Quick first step as he looks to attack and apply pressure on opposing defenses if ball is in his hands. Also, very good at reading off ball motion and filling spots behind defenses for slips to the bucket or finishing at the rim if help is late. High level finisher amongst the bigs and can take contact and score. High PNR plays (usually going to his right) leads to a drive and dish to bigs who finish at high percentage. When he gets to the line he is a decent converter as well (74% on an average of 4 attempts per game).
Weaknesses – Aggressiveness can be a negative as well unless it is controlled. If Ivey gets too aggressive, he can be seen as out of control defensively. Reaching and gambling because of this leads to unnecessary foul trouble. Also runs risk of putting himself out of position and out of a play at times. Players may be able to predict his movement while in aggressive mode and draw charges using his approach against him or baiting him into turnovers on the offensive end. While passing has improved, turnovers are almost similar. Can certainly commit to making better reads, telegraphing passes less and not jumping without an idea of his destination, leading to turnovers while mid-air. More of a wing at this time than a point. Low release on shot as well as low lift could be problematic. Shot appears to be more of a push shot than actually hitting an apex and release point more fluid shots have. Fixing mechanics may also improve percentages and accuracy even more. Ball handling is average as Ivey relies more on his athleticism and longer strides to beat opposition. Sometimes dribbles the ball extremely high, which will definitely lead to turnovers at the next level against skilled players. Most mid-range shots almost appear to be taken without any thought or balance on shot off PNR or dribble pull-ups. Commitment defensively can transform his game as he has the physical tools but needs to buy into consistency rather than take plays off frequently.
Comparisons – Ja Morant, Donovan Mitchell, Derrick Rose. Certainly, high praise for an incoming rookie but all of these players are exciting aggressive guards that finish with power at the rim and give their bodies to the game. Some of Ivey’s Euro moves and step throughs also bring thoughts of Dwayne Wade to mind. His hesitation and ability to blow by defenders are the keys to his current game. Improvement of 3 pointer from freshman to sophomore season shows he is dedicated to fixing problematic parts of his game. Dejounte Murray and Anthony Edwards also come to mind due to length, athleticism and also, in Murray a player Ivey can model his game on defensively with similar wingspan and the ability to be a disruptor.
#5 Keegan Murray – Iowa PF- 6’9” 250 lbs – 23.5 ppg/8.7 rpg/1.5 apg/1.9 bpg/1.1 spg/55.4 FG%
Strengths – Frame, mobility and length lend itself to frontcourt NBA position. Soft touch shooting wise and can space floor and be a threat. 3 level scorer with consistent mechanics. Nearly 40% from deep on almost 5 attempts. Highly effective in pick and pop situations and is also showing ability to knock down off screen movement. Turnaround jumper in low or mid post is go to move from that area. Solid post-up moves, especially if matched up against smaller opponent. Has a good first step that gets him well past defender and attacks well off the dribble. Huge jump production wise from freshman to sophomore year (8ppg to 24ppg). Very encouraging when looking at deeper stats. Shot selection improved as he hit 55% FG, rarely forces shots of action, plays under control. Active without the ball and makes hustle plays that impact momentum. Comfortable handling the ball and getting to his areas. More of a finesse type player but does not mind contact in the paint or on the way to the basket. Does finish at the rim.
Weaknesses – His fit positionally is a question at the moment. In this new era of position less basketball it will most likely be easier for him to find a quick fit but strength and length allows him to play bigger, so perhaps a small ball center or PF spot rather than the perimeter. Gambles defensively because of length and can lead to offense getting easier look at the basket. Lateral speed is also not special, so defending on the perimeter if caught in a switch can be difficult. While he was a natural scorer who progressed from Year 1 to Year 2, he did not have a reliable perimeter method of getting his shot off. While still improving shot, did show inefficiencies from deep. Prefers drives and finishes with his right hand. Though seemingly an unselfish player, he did not pass much, this could be however because he was relied on to score and the ball was in his hands for this purpose. Older than typical 2nd year college player. Will be 22 when his rookie year begins.
Comparisons – From a silky-smooth floor game who can get to the rim and has a solid stroke, Michael Porter Jr. comes to mind. Murray can be what some projected Porter to be when he was drafted. With his fluid athleticism and comfort for the game, I can see Murray taking further jumps during his career as he did from Year 1 to Year 2 at Iowa because he wants to get better and be in the top of the conversation. Another rangy forward who can guard multiple positions, is a capable shot blocker, and favors a turnaround jumper if available, also a Porter, Otto Porter’s game can be comparable to Murray as well.
#6 Shaedon Sharpe – Kentucky G – 6’6” 215 lbs – did not see game action in 21-22 season
Strengths – Great NBA ready frame. Strength to play through contact and be physical. Incredibly athletic for position. Solid mechanics shooting wise. Showed ability as three level scorer. Wingspan near 7-foot creates steals and disrupts action on offense by getting into passing lanes. Laterally, moves well on defense and can stay in front of opposing ballhandler. Offensively can create his own shot, has good, tight handles with ball. Creates space with fadeaway on jumper. Can use body in post and seal off opposition and go to multitude of back to basket moves he has. Finds his points by scoring a good deal in off-ball plays. Great slasher that finishes strong. Fierce dunker if opening is there. Good reads on backdoor action as well. Quick first step. Serviceable playmaking skills. High ceiling, potentially one of the better players to come out in this draft. Type of pick that may get you a raise or may get you fired if he doesn’t pan out.
Weaknesses – Has all the physical tools to be an elite athlete at the next level but competitiveness and desire come into question during high school career. Also shown skills against high school talent, which isn’t always the best barometer. Never played a minute for Kentucky, although Coach Cal thinks he would be #1 overall pick next year if he returned. Unproven against talent college or even G-League players. Last competitive game was 2021 Nike EYBL. Very much a pick based on potential as well as trust in your front office and development staff. Many unknowns when thinking about Sharpe and his skills translating to the next level after reclassifying and not even suiting up collegiately. Needs to improve FT shooting. Defensively can be wild at times. Discipline in his game both offensively and defensively are needed to gauge coachability at NBA level and fit.
Comparisons – From an athleticism standpoint, springs almost like a Vince Carter/Anthony Edwards combo. Frame and length also reminiscent of Edwards. He took some time to come into his own and find his way in the league, but Edwards did play in college as did Vince. A player with a similar skillset and background, essentially jumping from high school to the NBA was JR Smith. A talented perimeter player, being drafted on potential, but still a very big unknown in regards to his fit, way he may mesh with teammates it is extremely tough to project the type of success or failures he may encounter at the NBA level. He could very well fold under the pressure of taking such a large jump competition wise.
#7 Bennedict Mathurin – Arizona G/F – 6’6” 205 lbs – 17.7 ppg/5.6 rpg/2.5 apg/45 FG%
Strengths – Mathurin has a good deal of positives going for him already. He is a high flyer and jumps out of a gym. He’s leaned into his athleticism and shown being a capable slasher and finisher at the cup with great body control. Skill set scoring the ball is already somewhat polished. Has an effective floater in his arsenal. Mechanics on his jumper are smooth and consistent. Intangibles are there, determination, likes working hard and once fully committed defensively he can make good things happen. He’s got all of the tools to be highly successful on the defensive end and has shown it thus far with 1 steal per game. Despite lapses, potentially due to youth, upside as a defender is high. Ceiling is very high for Mathurin and could be one of the players this draft is remembered for in a positive manner.
Weaknesses – Offensive consistency as a creator haunts Mathurin currently. At his age, he is still learning nuances of play as a wing and where to attack and position himself. Free throw percentage took a large dip this year but volume moved in a positive direction. Could be in his own head at the line. He needs to learn to be more creative offensively and not fall in love with a few moves that long term would be defended easily. Defensive effort and intensity must become more consistent for him to excel and use physical tools he has. Must work harder on box outs and going after rebounds as he frequently has been out worked and out hustled for boards. If he can improve as much as he has shown offensively and translate it defensively at the NBA level, he will have a chance at becoming a high-end complete player.
Comparisons – Purely from an athleticism standpoint, Mathurin’s game shows flashes of Jason Richardson. A strong, solid frame, good slasher and powerful dunker and finisher. He can score a good deal each night, and be able to flow within the offensive to find his areas of attack. Obviously being more creative will help as well. Another smooth scoring wing from yesterday is Jerry Stackhouse. Stack could get to where he wanted on the court, use his body and take contact at times and still finish. Many similarities here between their games and Mathurin’s potential growth trajectory.
#8 Johnny Davis – Wisconsin SG – 6’5” 195lbs – 19.7 ppg/8.2 rpg/2.1 apg/1.1 spg/42.7 FG%
Strengths – Confidence exudes from his game on both ends of the court. Wiry frame is actually stronger than expected. Body control and athleticism lead to ability to draw fouls and shot close to 80% this past year from the line on an average of 6 attempts per game. Ability to post-up on smaller guards, using should fakes and head fakes to create space for turnaround jumpers in the post. Mid-range game is best attribute currently on the offensive end. Pull up jumper is sold, PNR, PNP and DHO plays are all heavy factors in his game. Showed flashes of emerging off-the-ball game with some spot up possessions and developing range as a shooter. Can score in bunches if needed. Defensively took the assignment of usually defending the opposing teams’ best player while still taking on the offensive load at Wisconsin. Plays passing lanes well enough to be impactful. Athleticism and instincts defensively showed his two-way ability this year. High IQ player who can register set plays and cause turnovers or force the offense into errors. Solid fundamentals, quick feet and general competitive drive helped commitment to defense. Great rebounder for size as well and has a way of zeroing in on the ball. Hard working player who fought through injuries late in the season as well to help in conference games as well as NCAA tournament games. Shows mental toughness and desire to succeed at next level. Football background shows through in competitiveness and aggressive, physical style.
Weaknesses – Probably more comfortable as a complimentary player in a system although was pushed into the spotlight out of need. Court vision is below average at best at the moment and assists/turnover ratio was a wash (2.1 apg/2.3 tpg). Physical play can lead into poor turnovers and fouls as a high IQ player can realize if Davis is coming downhill with no brakes. Average release on shot, could be better suited to off the ball set shot out of playmaking call. During freshman year, on similar attempts he hit close to 40% from three.
Comparisons – For him to get substantial time he needs to show all facets of his game. From what we have seen so far, he reminds me of Quentin Grimes. Similar body types, defensive potential is certainly there due to length and athleticism, and can make a knock down shot, or work off PNR and PNP plays for a quick bucket. Josh Hart is someone I can see Davis blossoming into if he makes the commitment to shot mechanics and controlling himself and the ball defensively better.
#9 Ochai Agbaji – Kansas G – 6’5” 217 lbs – 18.8 ppg/5.1 rpg/1.6 apg/0.9 spg/47.5 FG%
Strengths – Has all the physical tools already to matchup at the next level on the wing. 6’10” wingspan, long strides and can jump out of the gym. Vertical last summer was measured at 42” off of two feet. Efficiency and commitment to getting better showed each season at KU. As a transition player, can run and finish well and is also effective on secondary break or trailing the play. Comfortable stepping into a 1 or 2 dribble pull up once finding space in the offensive flow. Knows how to read defense and use it successfully on backdoor plays and finding high percentage shot attempts. Smooth jumper with high release point and excellent footwork (in part due to soccer background). Being a late bloomer, still can hit high ceiling, similar to Embiid coming out of KU, as he had only been playing for 3 years. Does not shy away from clutch situations and has taken ownership of the team this year growing from a role player type role over previous seasons. After late 2nd round projections last year and getting feedback, is now a lottery lock.
Weaknesses – General basketball IQ and feel for the game can and needs to improve. As he is still learning the game, there is hope this will come with repetition and hard work. Defensive awareness has potential to improve as skills are there but not refined. While has the ability, sometimes defends much more upright than needed, leading to him getting screened out of plays or back cut easily. Fundamentals on this end need to be focused on. Offensively, needs to learn to vary up moves in decision making. If 1st decision leads to being stopped, pass out, reset, fill, pass and cut. With the physical gifts he has, only a serviceable rebounder. If he positions himself better, boxes out in a solid fashion, rebounding numbers can improve. Playmaking skills are not good and does not make it to the charity stripe often (just under 3 attempts per game). Most likely will be a 3 and D type of player at next level with the ability to have a few special nights but be more of a glue type player.
Comparisons – With projection as high level 3 and D type player Mikal Bridges and his recent success come to mind. An athletic wing, playing fun basketball, being active defensively and growing before our eyes game to game and year to year. Bridges game though has expanded and he has become more successful as a playmaker when needed. This can also be attributed to being in a situation with a primary ballhandler in Paul. A more immediate comp right after draft day is Desmond Bane. While Bane’s measurables aren’t an exact comparison (ex. wingspan) he is a player on a team with a primary ball handler and is not asked to play beyond his game. He can breakdown a defense sporadically if the motion of offense allows it. perimeter defensive potential, floor spacing. Paired best on team with other shot creators on perimeter.
#10 Dyson Daniels – Ignite G – 6’9” 199 lbs – 11.9 ppg/7.4 rpg/5.1 apg/2.1 spg/45.8 FG%
Strengths – Unselfish and high IQ player who continued to grow and develop with more time at GLeague Ignite. Playmaking skills and build are the new prototype for a combo guard/ball handler. Great body control and versatility for position. High upside on defensive skills and foundation due to length and disruptive abilities displayed. Closes out strong to offensive player, seals off lanes and knows how to force player into help defense or turnovers. He is also a great help defender and times up deflections and steals with pinpoint accuracy by getting into passing lanes. Instincts in the post display some of his growing offensive game. Can body smaller guards and take advantage with his bag of post moves. Plays within his game and usually is able to take what the defense gives him, make the right read and be a facilitator. Has great change of pace moves that allow him to find the right man or take it himself. Right handed floater game is noticeable. Can convert at the rim with either hand though. Moves well off-ball in offensive schemes.
Weaknesses – While his shooting did get better, still lots of work to do here with consistency. Daniels also has points where he has questionable decision making in shot attempts if he does not immediately get the ball to someone and the clock is running down. Overall offensive efficiency is low due to not having a dependable shot from outside. Struggled adjusting to GLeague three-point line it seemed earlier in the year. Form, while fluid seems a tad slow. He needs a good deal of space to get his shot off and that can be cause for concern. Frame can support more muscle and it will be needed. Athletically, he does not have explosion of some other combo guards but he still can get to his spots and be successful. Needs to learn to take contact and get to the FT line much more frequently and knock down shots.
Comparisons – His frame and slow-fast-slow pace type of game immediately reminds of Kyle Anderson who is nicknamed Slo-Mo for a reason. Daniels can be a similar type of pace guard to steady the ship when needed while also being able to lock down his offensive assignment. Can defend 3 positions now but with added muscle, Daniel can potentially be a threat to defend 4s as well. He has flashes of a Lonzo Ball type game as well but has more off the dribble showmanship in his game.
#11 Jeremy Sochan – Baylor F- 6’9” 230 lbs – 9.2 ppg/6.4 rpg/1.8 apg/1.3 spg/47.4 FG%
Strengths – Athleticism and youth play a big part in his move up draft boards. Will be only 19 on draft day. Still very raw talent wise displaying facets of his game but as he got more comfortable in game situations, his numbers and production increased and became more consistent. Versatile scorer with long distance range. Sets the tone for his team from a pacing standpoint, uses high IQ and motor to do so. High potential upside if offensive game grows at next level, which currently is a big IF. Can defend all 5 positions and has a great feel for spacing on defense. Will be crucial in switching environment as he is relentless pesky defender. Rebounding is another positive in his game. Knows where to box out and chase down boards. Grabbing on the defensive end, can lead the break and make the right read if absolutely necessary. Above average playmaking ability for position. Herky jerky game creates space offensively and is very fluid in motion. Frame is too big for undersized players to contain and he uses his strength and toughness against larger players to hustle and outwork them. Throw a big at him defensively and he’ll drive past them. Potential nightmare mismatch with size/speed combo. Can score with either hand at the bucket or take off and dunk on you. Draws a good deal of fouls.
Weaknesses – Shooting efficiency is an issue at the present time. Having a reliable jumper is also in question at the moment. Can be dared to shooting and not have success. On catch and shoot 3s, he shoots around 32%. While he may get to the line often, he only shoots 57% from there. On 2-point baskets and floaters he’s shooting 36%. Release on catch and shoot attempts is slow and looks different, less fluid than his pull-up. Foul prone while defending. Needs to learn how to use his length better to alter shots or deter offense. Still needs to access his athleticism when finishing around the basket. Can be prone to turning the ball over and trying to force action too much. Discipline defensively is a must, without it, he takes risks that, while occasionally do pay off, more frequently put him out of position and giving up ground to offensive player who takes advantage. Advanced offensive stats are poor. Shooting and overall offensive efficiency are low (this bears repeating). If he lands with an organization that prides itself on development, there is a shot he can scratch his potential.
Comparisons – Hard to pin down with the question marks in his game. From a potential standpoint, can become a solid glue guy, Kyle Kuzma type. Work is surely needed if this is his ceiling. General tools are there from a motor and length standpoint. Shooting must, must, MUST improve at all levels. Another player who carved out a solid career that Sochan shows flashes of is Jared Jeffries. Long and athletic enough to use his skills, switchable to most positions, though a better polished shooter.
#12 Jalen Duren – Memphis C – 6’11” 250 lbs – 12.0 ppg/8.1 rpg/1.3 apg/2.1 bpg/59.7 FG%
Strengths – NBA ready body for a center. Physically gifted, great leaping ability, powerful dunker and intimidates at both ends. Long arms, wingspan around 7’5”, big hands and excellent rebounder. May be the best rebounder in this draft. Real knack for getting after the boards. Rim protector as well with solid build and length. Alters a good deal of shots and knows how to jump as the last part of his motion while staying lateral to get a block. While more of a traditional big man for yesterdays game, he does have decent mid-range game and can stretch out to the 3-point line if needed but not consistently. Fundamentally sound jumper as well. Great hands, catches and controls lobs and finishes at the rim with power. Back to the basket game and put backs on offensive boards are his bread and butter. Right handed jump hook is a go to move. On catches in the paint, usually keeps the ball high and away from prying hands of defenders. High motor and runs the floor extremely well. Developing passing skills and face up game as well. From high post was able to show flashes of making correct reads and finding cutters for buckets. Defensively can switch out to perimeter players and cover as well.
Weaknesses – Extremely right hand dominant, can use some improvement on left hand finishes. Still very raw offensively as he’s been able to overpower opponents and not need to finesse points around the basket or mid-range. Post moves overall are very generic and mundane. Needs to vary movement and mix up a package of post play to not be so easy to defend. Seems to make up his mind about his move and pre-determines motion that can be picked up by defense. Learning to improvise and play within the game will benefit him. Can be out of control at times with physicality leading to foul trouble. Also, difficulty sometimes getting set on screen plays leading to moving screen foul calls. Needs to not bite on pump fakes as often as he does. When beaten off the dribble if defending perimeter, he has difficult time recovering because he was most likely beat due to poor defensive stance and not being down with low center of gravity to move quick and react to the play or ball. FT shooting is poor at around 63%. Motivation to succeed is going to be a major factor in Duren’s success at the NBA level as his physical gifts can only get him so far.
Comparisons – From a “nose for the rebound” type of player, immediately brings to mind Andre Drummond as a player he can potentially turn into. A solid frame, decent mechanics on his shot. Can finish strong as the rim and disrupt on defense as well. When looking at a sheer power standpoint, we may be seeing a player with the potential to be a force like early Dwight Howard with Duren’s physical gifts and athleticism. He tries to dunk everything that he touches in the post if he can. Now, if Duren can extend his offensive range and continue to develop and grow defensively, he could project to a Bam Adebayo type player. Mechanics are good on his jumper, he just needs consistency. Making reads from high post can be improved but he has a good base at the moment. Defensively Bam hustles and outworks and is switchable to the perimeter. If he gets beat, he has the ability to use his gifts to get back into a play and chase down block at the rim.
#13 Adrian Griffin Jr. – Duke F- 6’6” 222 lbs – 10.4 ppg/3.9 rpg/1.0 apg/0.6 bpg/49.3 FG%
Strengths – NBA ready role player today. 3-and-D type wing if he can grow defensively. Size that teams love. 7-foot wingspan and a dangerous 3-point shooter with career range of close to 46% from deep. Shooter who can finish at the rim as well take contact on the way. Leaping ability to dunk on defenders. Is able to improvise if lanes are clogged, has spin moves that allow for him to continue towards the basket if initially stopped while keeping his dribble. Can create enough space to get his own shot when needed if plays break down. Uses physical attributes to get to where he wants to go on the court. Protects the ball at a high level when going to the rim. Solid rebounder and defender overall. Also moves well without the ball within flow of offense.
Weaknesses – Reaction on defense is slower than hoped for. More often than not can get screened out of a play. Foot speed offensively also needs improvement as blow by ability is not where it should be with athleticism and length. Can create more space between him and the court on jumper to be able to shoot over defense. Right now, not much lift. If he cannot gain on lift on jumper, perhaps speeding up his release could be an improvement on shot. Shot mechanics improvements will allow for easier shots/scoring opportunities. As with most young players, picks up dribble far too often and frequently without an idea of where he is going or where to pass. Extremely right hand dominant, and when he does use left, often ends in hesitation move or pulling out of traffic. A good defender will pick this up, disrupt him and force a turnover. If he isn’t scoring, his commitment seems to wane. Needs to become more aggressive offensively and use tools he has defensively.
Comparisons – Looking at Griffins game, there are a few routes to take. Best case scenario, he becomes a Jimmy Butler type 2-way player that wouldn’t necessarily need to be relied on to score, but can function within an offense and still get his while locking up the opposing teams best player outside of the post. Another more traveled route is someone like Jordan Hamilton from the 2011 draft. Solid prospect, ended up going in the late first round and bounced around the GLeague and NBA for a bit. Ultimately found his footing overseas. His physicality and game though do bring some reminiscence of Griffin. As a high lottery pick, it would be unfortunate from a career standpoint if his trajectory followed Hamilton. Both have versatility and a strong frame and has NBA ready range. Flashes of Robert Covington also come to mind. Skillful enough to score if needed, able to lock down on defense and create havoc for opposing players if committed and also able to carve out a nice, lengthy career as a specialist while having an unorthodox shooting form.
#14 Tari Eason – LSU SF/PF- 6’8” 215 lbs – 16.9 ppg/6.6 rpg/1.1 bpg/1.9 spg/52.1 FG%
Strengths – Consistent motor. Solid defender that benefits getting a good deal of steals and blocks. Above average athletically. Decent rebounder for position. Scores well off the dribble as well as in motion off the ball. Serviceable shooter and decent low post scorer if needed. Versatility is his strong suit with the ability to play either forward spot and defend two-three positions at the NBA level. Hangs his hat on being a defensive disruptor. Ball handling skills are above average as he can create opportunities for himself and others. Looks for teammates, though only converts 1 assist per game. Always looking to run and shows aggressiveness in the paint looking to dunk on defender. Does not shy away from contact on drives. Effectively draws fouls and converts at a high rate (80%). Footwork is good allowing him to react and read defender and create space from them to get bucket. Anticipation and hops allow him to contest shots well.
Weaknesses – Mental errors need to be refined and more repetition and game scenarios will help that. Program he came from has their own issues, is accountability a problem for Eason? Mechanics of shot can be refined, which hopefully would add to conversions at a better rate from deep and in when not dunking. Turnover prone at the moment due to a number of factors (shot mechanics are almost off to the side of his head, low release point, easily guarded/disrupted.) Rather than improvise and take what defense is giving, relies heavily on going in a straight line to get to where he wants sometimes leading to unnecessary fouls. Forcing the issue offensively does him no favors. If he can develop a more reliable mid-range game, it would allow him not to be so easily stopped at the rim by defenses already knowing his next move. Left hand needs improvements. Athleticism is not elite so he must work to over come and get better. Not a great first step either so if he does not have an immediate advantage, defender can react and get back into play.
Comparisons – Could have a Kevon Looney type ceiling if he commits and grows into role and system play. Obviously getting into a more regimented routine will help him chart a better course. Fixing mechanics on jumper as well will help him become a more complete player. Being able to become a solid contributor and potential glue guy on a contending team plays into all of his complimentary parts to create a greater whole. His desire to win, commitment to getting the little things done and grinding on defense with his infectious energy will help him overcome some negatives initially. Long term he must want to improve these attributes.