With many NBA fans getting their first look at 2016 NBA Draft prospects, BBALLBREAKDOWN is here to provide analysis of each region’s best prospects and most enticing matchups.
Best Prospect: Jaylen Brown, #4 California
Brown is an exciting athlete, capable of a highlight reel play at any time. His biggest question mark is how he translates that into on-court production. Shooting guards who struggle to space the floor make an impact in limited scenarios, one of which plays right into Brown’s strength. He has a lightning quick first step off the bounce to get to the rim no matter who is in front of him. He has little trouble finishing at the rim, mainly because he is usually looking down at it after levitating above his defender.
Although he has some clear holes in game, he is probably going to declare this year. As mentioned, he hasn’t been a great shooter in his career up to this point and struggles to create for his teammates and turnovers when he gets into the lane. This usually stems from him making up his mind before his drive starts rather than reading the defense and letting the play come to him. Few teams will be able to pass up his athletic talent and will hope they can translate his potential into production, diversifying his skill-set to fit into a NBA role.
Sleeper Prospect: Daniel Hamilton, #8 Connecticut
Hamilton is on the map because of his ability to create from the wing, with a 29.4 percent assist rate, and to help out on the defensive glass with a 26.6 percent defensive rebounding rate–both excellent marks for a small forward. But there are too many drawbacks to his game right now to take him too seriously as a prospect.
Best Opening Round Matchup: #6 Arizona vs #11 Wichita State
This game will feature a bunch of players on the fringes of the NBA Draft conversation and while there may not be any potential stars in this game, there could be several role players who emerge next season.
Wichita State’s Ron Baker doesn’t do anything at an elite level but he does a lot of things pretty well. If he can improve his driving or shooting ability, a team may want a player of his ilk to hustle and bring energy to the bench. His backcourt mate, Fred VanVleet, is one of the best combinations of outside shooting and passing from the point guard spot in the country, but he is just six feet tall. NBA teams have seen him play throughout his career and have a ton of information on him, but one last tournament run could be the key to a team falling in love with him and being more open to him making the team, which will likely have to come through a training camp invite.
Arizona’s best draft candidate is the freshman Allonzo Trier. He’s an athletic player projected to be a shooting guard, but doesn’t have great height or length relative to his competition. He can certainly score in bunches but he hasn’t proven how he can do that at a NBA level quite yet. Most likely guarded by Baker, a big performance in the first round could begin to answer those questions. The Wildcats also feature two seven footers in Kaleb Tarczewski and Dusan Ristic, both classic back to the basket big men who haven’t yet demonstrated enough skills in that area to market themselves to NBA teams. Once training camps come, a team in need of a backup center could invite them in and it’s not out of the question they find themselves in a role similar to Jeff Withey on the Jazz.
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Best Potential Matchup: #4 California vs #5 Maryland
This has to be a top five anticipated matchup for NBA scouts and it’s a potential second round game. Both teams are littered with NBA prospects, although many of them have been underwhelming this season. A top level performance against other hopeful draftees could boost their stock at the right time near the end of the season.
In the frontcourt, it will be a fight between Cal’s Ivan Rabb and Maryland’s Diamond Stone and Robert Carter. Stone isn’t a great defensive player and will need to show he can contain Rabb. Carter will likely get some minutes on him but will be giving up a few inches. One of Carter’s best attributes is his versatility and being able to man up against Rabb, granted a player who is still maturing into his frame, will show scouts he could guard bigger players at times.
The backcourt will be just as fun, featuring Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon for the Terps against Ty Wallace, Jaylen Brown and Jabari Bird for Cal. Sulaimon will be a tough matchup for whoever he is guarding, most likely Brown. Trimble, Wallace and Bird all have clear and significant flaws but this game could be useful in rounding out their portfolio if they can put in a good showing.
Prospect Ranking Notes (ranking, assuming they enter the draft)
1) Jaylen Brown, California (top 5): Dynamic slasher who can get to the rim versus anybody. Athletic tools ahead of his skills at this point. Shooting guard who can’t shoot yet, just 30 percent on threes.
2) Ivan Rabb, California (10-15): Efficient around rim, two-way rebounder. Doesn’t have many ways to score, relies on dunks off dump-offs.
3) Diamond Stone, Maryland (15-20):
4) Robert Carter, Maryland (25-40): Versatile inside-out scorer. Probably a better shooter than his 34 percent three point rate but needs to show it soon, especially to give confidence he can step out to NBA line
5) Wayne Selden, Kansas (25-40): Career high in three point percentage at 40 percent and two point percentage at 53.5 percent. Starting to figure out feel for scoring. Always been a great passer.
6) Melo Trimble, Maryland (35-50): Small point guard who is great at getting into the lane to draw fouls but struggles to finish against size. Efficiency collapsed down the stretch, 29 percent three point shooter in ACC play.
7) Sheldon McClellan, Miami (45-60): Not afraid to shoot, will often take bad shots just to get up attempts. Needs to improve on his effort and focus, doesn’t always play within the team concept. NBA level athlete and skill-set but does a team take a chance on developing him?
8) Allonzo Trier, Arizona (50-60): Undersized shooting guard. Great scorer but only a 36.5 percent shooter and doesn’t provide much else yet.
9) Jake Layman, Maryland (undrafted): Plays best as a small ball power forward who can stretch floor then alongside two big men; miscast often at Maryland. Not as athletic as small forwards but has an advantage over power forwards. Disappears too often.
10) Josh Hart, Villanova (undrafted): Took a step back as a shooter this year, down nearly ten percent. Three-and-D guy who will need to show this year was a small sample size aberration.
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