Nothing cute about this post, just some content. It's Valentine's Day. If you want cute, go see your significant other....
Jalen Suggs, Still My #2
Cade is a pretty clear #1. And as the G-League Ignite team has been underway and successful, it's hard to keep Kuminga and Jalen Green out of the top-five. That five-man group is starting to get firmly entrenched: Cade, Suggs, Kuminga, Green and Evan Mobley. Cade is a pretty clear #1.
The question becomes: what order do you put the others in?
I maintain that, outside of Cade, Suggs is the best pick-and-roll player in college, and one of the best freshmen in college basketball in the last decade. The 6'4" guard can play the 1 or the 2 and has elite feel in either role.
While the Zags are dominating the world and currently stand 20-0, their games have been so lopsided that basic statistics do little to tell the story of how good Suggs has been. He's shooting 50% from the field, averaging 4.4 assists and dominating in his minutes. He plays next to another point guard, Joel Ayayi, so he splits point guard duties.
Here are some numbers to consider for Suggs, as of February 14th:
If Cade is the Alpha, Suggs is the Beta. I'm feeling pretty comfortable with this
The McBride Growth Curve
Earlier this month, I wrote about how Deuce McBride of West Virginia is one of the highest-ceiling draft prospects because he's still so early on his developmental curve. Every game that goes by, he gets better. It's worth monitoring...
On Saturday against Oklahoma, he had 19 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists with 0 turnovers in a double OT game. His shooting efficiency struggled, but his 0 turnovers with that much usage shows a great deal of improvement in his lead guard ability. He really does remind me of Marcus Smart in a lot of ways.
Unlike Smart, McBride has a little bit of athleticism and shake to his offensive game. He's really good with a live dribble attacking a set defender and has the burst to finish around guys at the rim. He falls in love with difficult pull-ups a lot, though I've convinced myself that West Virginia's wretched spacing contributes to that volume a lot.
More than anything, the kid is a winner. He wins grind-it-out games. He wants the ball in the big moment. He's an emotional leader who plays high-octane hoops on both ends. Synergy clips and highlights don't do him justice. He plays so freaking hard, and has such high offensive upside.
There's chatter about him needing another year, and I can't disagree more. Get in on the ground floor this year. Deuce should be a first-rounder.
Sleeper in plain sight
What wins in today's NBA?
Shooting, to a certain extent. To me, recruiting shooters at some point is like recruiting cross country runners... at some point, you just look at the numbers.
Well, the numbers are pretty clear: Mitch Ballock is one of the most prolific college shooters ever. He's on pace for his third-straight season over 40% from 3. He's going to eclipse 300 career treys in the next few games. He has a career 2.8:1 assist to turnover ratio. He shoots 57% inside the arc.
The lefty doesn't look like an NBA prospect; a slightly mundane frame, non-elite wingspan, a fairly square release at first glance. But he's lightning quick, has deep range, is tremendous with his footwork and can be used on the move.
At some point, the numbers and âthe film have to get this guy on someone's draft board, right?
I get it. He'll struggle to defend. But put him in a smart system with other switchable wings who can cover for him and it's worth it. So many NBA teams are signing shooting specialists who do little else: Kyle Guy, Garrison Matthews, Duncan Robinson, Matt Thomas. Ballock is cut from the same cloth. I expect him to be a guy who surprises a year from now.
He's Only 18...
Guys... Josh Primo turned 18 on Christmas Eve.
Since then: 11.2 points on 47% shooting and 51.1% from 3. The Crimson Tide are a top-ten team in the nation. And the offensively-charged Primo is figuring out how to score consistently.
He flashed a little bit of everything in Bama's rout of Georgia over the weekend. His jumper smooth, his finishing long with his frame. And if he drills off the bounce like this, he's exactly what pro teams are looking for:
I'm not sure where Primo's draft ceiling is right about now. He may not have enough time or role ahead of him to sneak up to the top-20. But I know where his floor should be: the 35-40 range. There's way too much upside for a 6'7" scorer with his level of smoothness. At his age, he's worth the flier from a team who can afford to develop him and ride with his defensive growing pains.