Brian Patrick

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Friday, June 9, 2017


Like last season, this is a very small group of prospects, and as the NBA continues to evolve, we should see the products being turned out of college starting to meet the types of bigs the NBA is looking for. In a lot of ways, this group, five freshmen, fit what the league wants, but they are just very raw at this point.  

 

The players are listed in order of how I see these players ranked in ability and long-term NBA potential, though much of it will end up mirroring my next mock draft coming soon. 

 

 

Jarrett Allen, Freshman, Texas, 6’10, 234 – Like many on this list, Allen is young and raw, but with a lot of potential. While he doesn’t have great size for the center position, Allen does have a 7’5 wingspan, and a solid body which allows him to battle with bigger players. Allen was effective around the basket, using his length well in the low post to get off his shot from anywhere around the lane. He doesn’t have great touch yet, and if pushed away from the basket, he struggles a bit, but there was improvement from the start to the end of the season. Allen has good hands and quick reflexes, showing the ability to catch all kinds of passes thrown to him at the rim or in the pick-and-roll. Allen showed some shooting ability from 10 to 15 feet, with a motion that should work for him as he continues to develop. Allen has more of a chance to be a difference maker on the defensive end, where his length and footwork give him the foundation to be a high-level rim protector. He still seems to be learning things like positioning and being able to see the whole floor with ball movement, but he reacts well and his reach allows him to still make plays on defense even if he doesn’t quite get into ideal position. Allen was a better rebounder on the offensive end than defensive, and he needs to become much more aggressive on the defensive glass to be effective. With a group of young, still developing bigs, there isn’t much separation, but I like Allen to go near the lottery due to his slightly better offensive skill at this point.

 

Ike Anigbogu, Freshman, UCLA, 6’10, 252- Anigbogu decided to declare for the NBA draft, despite being the seventh man on UCLA, and playing just 13 minutes per game. On a team that was very perimeter-oriented, you wouldn’t expect a back-up big to get many touches, which is what happened with Anigbogu, so he created his own. His job was to hit the offensive boards and defend the rim, and he did both well in his limited minutes. Unlike Allen, discussed above, Anigbogu, at over 250 pounds, has the body to be a force around the basket, using his strength well to carve out space to hit the boards. He always seems to go strong after the missed shot, but unless he can dunk it, or lay it back in unimpeded, it can be a bit of a mess watching him shoot in traffic. Also, Anigbogu is solely focused on trying to put the ball back in, often not realizing when he is in a bad spot and finding a teammate. Anigbogu is slightly more advanced on the defensive end, where he has shown some adeptness both protecting the rim and coming out to defend on the perimeter against the pick-and-roll. While he plays mostly on instinct right now, his physical ability is enough to often let him work through mistakes. It’s also because of this defensive potential that Anigbogu is a likely mid-first round pick, even though his success at the next level is far from a given.

  

Justin Patton, Freshman, Creighton, 6’11, 229 – Patton, a redshirt freshman, took the Big East by storm in the first half of the season. Patton is a great athlete for 6’11, running the floor with ease, and showing the timing and leaping ability to make plays on both ends of the floor. With Creighton’s up-tempo offense, Patton was the perfect big man, finding his scoring chances in transition, off the pick-and-roll, or a quick flash to the rim off of penetration. His activity and movement on offense was important to the college offense, and as he became more comfortable away from the rim, he was able to contribute in other ways, though a non-factor at this point as a perimeter scorer. Defensively, Patton has further to go to be able to make an impact, even with his physical tools. His fundamentals need work in everything from defending the post to rebounding. Also, he has yet to show that he can be a consistent rim protector, often being late to rotate over or missing a play behind him completely. With his physical tools, Patton is certainly worth a look in the 20’s, and could be a good fit for a playoff team that doesn’t need much from him right now.

 

Tony Bradley, Freshman, North Carolina, 6’11, 249 – Another back-up big man who entered the draft, Bradley at least was part of a team that won the NCAA Championship. Like the rest of this list, Bradley relies on his physical tools right now to make an impact, with a lot more to be done in understanding the game. At 250 pounds, Bradley is good size for his frame, and a 7’5 wingspan to go with it. In terms of low post offense, Bradley may be the most polished of the group, though he didn’t have much of a chance this year to show it. He did score 7 points per game, in just over 14 minutes. Bradley doesn’t have the agility like many on this list, but his footwork is solid in the low post, and his shooting touch continues to improve. Though he shot just 61.6-percent from the free throw line, Bradley’s shooting stroke is decent, and I’d expect him to eventually be able to step out and knock down jumpers consistently. Defensively, Bradley is fundamentally sound, but he can be a bit heavy-footed when guarding the post, and he is really susceptible to players who can face up against him. Bradley doesn’t have the agility or quickness to be an elite shot blocker right now, but with a 7’5 wingspan, you can still make an impact, which he does. He can be more aggressive as a rebounder, as well, especially going after the ball instead of waiting for it to come to him. I like Bradley’s upside a lot, and in the right hands, I think he can be a starter in the league, making him well-worth a later first-round pick.

 

 

Others to Watch: Mathias Lessort, France; Thomas Bryant, Indiana

 




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