By Max Feldman
The more you look at Desmond Bane’s body of work at TCU, the accolades, his physical measurements and his character, you might fathom how in the world he is not garnering first round speculation. Further, when you turn on the film of Desmond Bane, you might wonder why he is not a lottery potential selection…
Recent draft outcomes and the consensus among NBA media is that draft age has become more important to a players stock year after year. For example, Obi Toppin and Saddiq Bey are the only players older than 21 years old who are essentially “locks” to be first round picks. If a 18, 19 or even 20 year old prospect had the same statistical outlook of Dane’s senior season in terms of efficiency, volume and output, they would be a consensus top ten selection. To me, Bane appears to be a different case than a Frank Mason, Denzel Valentine or Doug McDermott who were increasingly productive and efficient upperclassmen who went on to solid or below average production at the NBA level. Bane shows signs for much more at the next level and as a member the Mt. Rushmore for the TCU basketball program, he looks to once again do what he does best, produce.
Bane had a historic career at TCU. The most wins in a TCU jersey in program history, the leader in 3 point shots made and 3rd all time on the school scoring list. For all collegiate standouts though, all the accolades mean nothing at the next level. But, I am here to detail why Bane has more value to him than NBA draft outlets are showing.
Desmond Bane is a shot maker with an NBA ready body. My favorite part of evaluating him as a prospect? He leaves little to project or guess on at the next level. Everything you might look for is all there. At 6-6 and 220 pounds, Bane has legit size for an off guard where projects to thrive at the next level, but in a league heading direction where the power goes to the team with more skilled players and the more players who can handle the ball, he slots in very nicely as a combo-guard. His scoring at all three levels shines a glaring light at what his role can be at the next level. The stand out statistics besides his scoring output and shooting percentages are his ability to rebound using a relentless, hard-nosed motor and by making plays for others as a versatile offensive weapon. While playing 36 minutes per game his senior year, Bane snatched 6.3 rebounds and handed out nearly 4 assists per game. No player on the FOG Big Board had similar outputs while playing the volume of minutes per game Bane did. The Indiana native led the Horned Frogs in points, assists and steals per game. An incredibly pure and balanced jump shot with limitless range allowed his game to open up in other areas. The most underrated part of his skillset and makeup as a prospect is the athleticism in combination with his fluidity. Bane can finish with power or touch around the rim. The film speaks volumes with Bane, but unlike many other prospects, the numbers back it up too. Bane rated in the 91st percentile scoring off of spot ups (22% of his scoring situations, the highest of any), 76th scoring as a P&R ball-handler and a phenomenal 97th percentile scoring in isolation situations.
When off ball, Bane excels coming around screens using his feel and instincts to wrap and dive to the rim or fade and hit threes from range. The shooting stroke is among the cleanest in the class and shows the most consistency with a quick, high release on an extremely balanced base regardless of whether it is off the dribble, around a screen or on spot ups. His veteran tendencies show as an avid finisher with both hands around the rim showing consistent flare, power and fluidity. He avoids contact around the rim with the ball in his hands resulting in low free throw attempts, but does display sudden athletic burst in transition. In no manner am I saying he has a massive ceiling and is a potential All-Star, but he is a prospect with an incredibly high floor, has worked hard to dial in every facet of his game and is ready to produce day one. Think a bigger Eric Gordon with some extra explosiveness but slightly less extended range.
The film, the analytics, the character… all in Bane’s favor. The only thing that is not is a 22 year old draft age. In comparison to other wings like Josh Green, Cassius Stanley and Leandro Bolmaro who are all garnering massive consideration as first round picks, Bane is miles ahead in terms of development and collective skillset. There are not many safe picks in this age of the NBA draft with a flood of 18 and 19 year olds with limited experience and plenty to project meaning Bane will be one of the safest to contribute and serve a role as a post-lottery selection. While the Eric Gordon comparison aligns more closely with his trajectory in my eyes, look out for a case like Josh Hart at the end of the first round with Desmond Bane. Alongside Jahmi’us Ramsey, Bane is an early candidate to outperform his stock.