By Max Feldman
This is a sequel to the recently released article, “4 Prospects FOG is NOT Sold On”. A few prospects that FOG has been glaringly high on will be avoided due to repetition and consistency in their elevated rankings compared to the consensus draft media (Jahmi’us Ramsey, Deni Avdija, Patrick Williams, Jaden McDaniels and Desmond Bane). Falling all over the map in terms of June Big Board rankings, these four are in order of how high FOG is on them compared to most.
June Big Board #16
Smith’s stock has been revived a bit since the end of the NCAA season rising back into the mid-first round range. If there is one prospect I had to predict would rise into the lottery at this point from the back end of the first round just a few weeks ago, it would be the Terps big man. The appeal of having a player who can rack up at least one block and hit one three per game is more rare than you might believe. Both numbers hint at a skillset that has become extremely valuable in the modern NBA. Having a player like Smith who is capable of spreading the floor and improve spacing yet also defend the rim with efficiency (2.7 blocks per 36 minutes) makes him effectively a Swiss army knife and the perfect fit as a five man. Compared to the pure big man above him currently in Wiseman, Okongwu, Toppin and Achiuwa, Jalen Smith might be the most refined with the least weakness to his game. With two years of experience under his belt starting in debatably the toughest conference in the country in terms of big men, Smith just turned 20 years old. The reads were mediocre up until recently, but for FOG when comparing him to others in this big man class, it will be difficult to drop Smith outside the top twenty slots.
June Big Board #25
The recent rumors of potential return to the Illini certainly put a dent in the bandwagon FOG has been building with Dosunmu. Simply put, Ayo is physically mature with little to no questions outside of somewhat inconsistent shooting with an unorthodox form. The Chicago native oozes confidence with big shot ability, production on or off ball, toughness on both ends and natural touch inside the arc as debatably the best mid-range shooter in the field. While the guard class is extremely deep, Dosunmu is among the best at using his frame to score and make plays for others as a P&R ball handler. He was extremely efficient in transition with his blitzing end to end speed stacking up 1.2 points per transition possession. Dosunmu provided optimism in nearly every area that shows high translation rates in terms of P&R scoring, P&R defending, isolation defense and iso scoring. Similar to the Jalen Smith case, when you put the 20 year old Illini guard next to the likes of Nico Mannion, Theo Maledon, Kira Lewis and RJ Hampton, there is not much of discrepancy. If Dosunmu remains in the 2020 Draft field, look for a team to pick up a versatile, tough ball handler ready to produce quicker than most.
June Big Board #5
I understand the case of why some have Haliburton outside the top ten as a back end lottery selection, but entirely disagree with rationalization. He is not an elite creator or subtle athlete like Anthony Edwards or Tyrese Maxey, but among the top ten players on the June Big Board, Haliburton as well as Avdija are the only two I believe could fit on every single NBA roster. The entire case on Haliburton can be simplified by his production on a very down Iowa State team. Dealing out 6.5 assists to a team with very limited scoring talent and team 3 point percentage of 31% with only one other player in double figure points per game. He was the only player on his team shooting over 33% from deep, at 41%. To rack up the efficiency numbers he did on both ends on top of his astounding refined development from year one to year two make his case extremely safe, but to me extremely attractive. Haliburton’s feel for the game rivals only LaMelo Ball’s in this class, as his ability to stuff the stat sheet by grabbing boards running in transition and handing out helpers is infectious. He is consistently a tempo setter, ranking in the 93rd percentile in transition with 1.4 points per possession. Unlike many other prospects who might thrive in transition relying on athleticism and end to end speed, Haliburton is ultra efficient in the half court as well. He is not an isolation scorer, figuring nicely for him as the NBA is moving away from iso focused offense, and even ranked in the 70th percentile in half court sets carrying large usage rates. The numbers are impressive, but why am I this high on Haliburton over the likes of Anthony Edwards, Obi Toppin or Cole Anthony? Tyrese Haliburton is going to be a productive stud in the league for a long, long time who can slot in a roster like the Knicks, Pistons or Wizards who are seeking direction and still collecting a core or an franchise like the Hawks, Bulls or Suns who have solidified cores. He can complement stars as a productive secondary ball handler who is an intelligent decision maker, high end shooter and an efficient offensive catalyst, but also could be the fuel to a rebuild as a trusty ball handler, elite facilitator with a strong draft age and high IQ that can create a extremely strong base for a high upside rebuild when he is surrounded with talent. I am extremely confident in the former Cyclone regardless of where he lands, which I could not say for many other lottery prospects. Haliburton’s teams had a record of 32-24 in games he participated in at Iowa State. His efficiency numbers were extraordinary in that time meaning the sky will be the limit for whatever chooses to infuse Haliburton into their roster surrounded by NBA talent.
June Big Board #30
The Pritchard bandwagon will continue. Among the logjam of high end collegiate lead guards who project as NBA second unit point guards, Pritchard is my favorite. His toughness, shooting, scoring versatility and quickness will be hard to keep off the floor as he’s won at every stop of his career thus far. In four years he developed into a National Player of Year competitor, but that was not always his role. After just a few games into his career at Oregon he displaced their multi-year starter in Casey Benson who eventually transferred because of a lack of play time, as Dana Altman simply could not take Pritchard off the floor due to his 2.6:1 assist to turnover ratio as just a freshman. He won’t be a star at the next level to the magnitude of his season with Oregon in 2019-2020 but I do feel extremely confident that Pritchard will star in his role wherever he lands. The ability to shoot from distance with an incredibly high clip in combination with a lightning quick first step, elite ball handling and high IQ in attacking closeouts has been a recipe for success among smaller point guards in the NBA for years, specifically for Patty Mills, J.J. Barea, Fred Van Vleet and Dennis Schroeder. Pritchard is among the most skilled basketball players in this class and while the measurements might not be in his favor, I believe in his mentality and ability to produce in the P&R heavy NBA for a long, long time.