By Max Feldman
The net that is casted by NBA scouts and the media world that surrounds it is absolutely massive. With the wealth of platforms and databases that cover not just high profile prospects, but boards that track 100-200 prospects, you rarely ever will find a prospect that simply is not getting the media they deserve. FOG has prided itself on digging in and getting a good feel for many of the prospects that people do not have a strong feel for yet, but this one is a unique case. I have not seen anyone put this prospect on the radar, but at this point, there is no reason Iverson Molinar shouldn’t be floated around as a draft prospect and even a potential first round name.
Molinar, 6-3 and 190 pounds, moved to the United States from Panama at the age of 14. He was touted as a 4 star prospect and chose Mississippi State over the likes of Arizona, ASU, VCU and Kansas State. He started the first eight games of his career in Starkville, but his Freshman campaign amounted to just 6 points, 1 assist and 1 rebound in 15 minutes per game. The SEC has been stockpiled with NBA prospects over the last few seasons, and the majority of the production for the Bulldogs last season was swallowed up by FOG favorite, Robert Woodard III, as well as Reggie Perry, Nick Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter. With the four statistical leaders out of the fold for Ben Howland, Iverson Molinar has become the most unknown star in college basketball in the early part of the season.
To preface, Iverson’s analytics and efficiency are sky high to this point, but the Sophomore has played just 6 games thus far. He’s a prospect to keep an eye on, but I want to put a clear emphasis on the fact that Molinar is absolutely an NBA prospect.
Through 6 games, Molinar is playing 30 minutes, putting up 18.7 points, 4 rebounds, 3.7 assists with just 1.8 turnovers per game on 51.9% from the field, 51.9% from three and 77.8% from the line. Volume is not low either, as he’s taken 81 shots, 27 of which from beyond the arc while carrying a 28% usage rate for the Bulldogs. Defensively, Molinar has racked up 2.7 steals per 40 minutes.
Below are Molinar’s analytics via Synery Sports.
We are just 6 games in, but Mississippi State is in the top 100 in terms of Strength of Schedule.
FOG will keep on an eye on how these numbers play out throughout the year. In terms of play style, Molinar shows signs of being a fantastic two-way fit in the modern NBA.
Through years of evaluation, I have locked down four fundamental keys for NBA translation for a collegiate guard. Pull up shooting, PnR ball handling efficiency, at least a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio and a sub .700 PPP when defending.
These points can be read in different manners and certain skills can absolutely be projected depending on physical tools and IQ development.
Similar to Cole Anthony in the 2020 process, Molinar finds his shot with absolute ease. He is a shoot first lead guard with high level athleticism, a deadly first step and a strong hesitation move on the perimeter. The Panamanian-born guard is a joy to watch attacking high PnR’s using hop steps, head fakes and a massively improved handle to knife through defenses. He has a natural floater game in the intermediate level and is quietly proving to be an elite three level scorer. His shot is extremely fluid with strong elevation, rising over bigger defenders to knock down spot ups and pull ups, a massive signal that he can play on and off ball at the next level. Molinar is active on the boards, putting up over 5 boards per 40, and loves to start the break. His patience has developed and has obviously become more trusted with the ball in his hands. His usage rate has shot up nearly 9%, and he still turns the ball over just 1.8 times a game. The 21 year old is extremely active, getting to the rim with ease and seeking contact, resulting in 3 free throw attempts per game, an area that has the potential to rise over 5 attempts per game. The former Team WhyNot guard looks for his shot as a first instinct, and while there is work to do in terms of shot IQ, his efficiency as a shot maker speaks for itself. He creates his own space on what is not an overly impressive Mississippi State roster. End to end, Molinar has deadly speed but has mastered the ability to change speed, draw contact and finish around the rim. Mississippi State runs a very high number of PnR sets to up Molinar, DJ Stewart Jr and Tolu Smith, but overall on offense, they place in just the 48th percentile in points per possession, making Molinar’s efficiency and production even more impressive early on. The high flying Sophomore guard will not make the Bulldogs a competitor in the SEC on his own, but I have no doubt he is one of the most under valued stars in the country and is putting together a well-rounded NBA portfolio.
Defensively, Molinar lands in the 95th percentile in overall defense, 96th percentile defending the PnR ball handler and the 93rd percentile guarding spot ups. He is extremely hard-nosed and pesky using his long arms to disrupt ball handler’s rhythm. There are plenty of under the radar prospects to stamp my name on, but Molinar’s on and off ball defense provide me with plenty of confidence. His wingspan is currently unknown, but it is certainly pushing 6’10 from the eye test. He is a strong bet to be able to guard both backcourt spots at the next level, and excel on that end due to toughness, physicality and instincts. Mississippi State took on Georgia and Molinar was tasked with guarding Sahvir Wheeler, an ultra shifty ball handler guard who breaks down defenses, constantly brings draws help defenses and gets to the line often. Molinar put on a defensive exhibition against the Georgia guard, displaying phenomenal lateral quickness, a relentless motor and defended without fouling too much. Wheeler shot just 2-10 from the field and had 5 turnovers. Against Dayton in a loss, Molinar matched up often with one of the nation’s elite guards, Jalen Crutcher. Crutcher was mostly great, but did finish with 8 turnovers. Taking on Tre Mann, Cam Thomas, Scottie Pippen Jr, Devontae Shuler, Xavier Pinson, Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson will be a great test for Molinar all season long, and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for how he handles the grueling task of guarding SEC guards.
In terms of comparisons to how Molinar will fit at the next level, there are plenty of players with similar build’s and tools. Defensively, Molinar should make a similar impact to De’Anthony Melton and ranges all the way up to Kris Dunn. With his off the bounce scoring ability, Molinar is displaying similar traits to Cole Anthony, a right handed Kendrick Nunn and Anfernee Simons.
With any prospect, production will fluctuate. To this point, Molinar’s numbers are difficult to ignore. Diving deeper, the Panamian guard is beginning to display prominent, advanced and polished tools on both ends of the floor. It is extremely rare to see an elite prospect essentially laying in plain sight as a high major guard, but Molinar is exactly that.
Why are no NBA Draft evaluators talking about Iverson Molinar? A massively improved ball handler with athleticism, scoring polish and an improved decision making ability. The 2021 NBA Draft class appears incredibly deep, but Molinar’s development thus far has him riding the sleeper status. Remember this name, folks.