Today we’ll look at the safe bets of the NBA draft. Compared to Tuesday’s prospects, this group of players are generally older, with their assets and flaws exposed after multiple years at the collegiate level. Some players (Kevin Huerter and Chandler Hutchison) are rumored to have promises above the Nets’ current 29 pick. Two are potential sleeper picks (Keita Bates-Diop and Melvin Frazier) that could be high-level role players. The fifth player covered here, Aaron Holiday, is a product of the Curry generation. While these players may nor have the upside of a Lonnie Walker or Robert Williams, they have skillsets that could help the Nets right away – or develop under the Nets’ development lab.
Kevin Huerter, Wing, Maryland (CMP: 19.75)
Huerter is rising. He’s also a redhead, so that’s pretty cool. A true wing with a sweet stroke, the Maryland sophomore has been called a discount Klay Thompson or Kyle Korver by the staff at The Ringer. Huerter has all the attributes of a successful knockdown shooter. He runs off of screens with intent. He has a high release point – and is taller than other pure shooting prospects in this draft. Huerter can shoot and create off the dribble a little as well, with a pretty solid in between game. He also displays some potential as a passer, making accurate reads on closeouts and nice passing on the move. Huerter averaged 3.38 assists per game as a sophomore, a bit surprising for a player known mostly for his shooting prowess. On the defensive end, Huerter has solid instincts guarding the perimeter. In some situations, he could even play up as a small ball big man as well.
It’s difficult to predict Huerter’s ceiling at this stage. He could be an elite shooter garnering big minutes or could be a specialist relegated to spot minutes. As a ballhandler, he has very little shimmy to his game, opting for straight line drives leading to floaters or layups in traffic. He can get a little erratic at times both with his dribbling and with his passing, and that’s reflected in his turnover numbers. While his combine speed measurements were pretty positive, Huerter has an average first step. That could limit his driving ability on closeouts. Defensively, he may be exposed against wider small forwards. He projects more as a good help defender with his frame, rather than a good one-on-one defender.
Brooklyn has already worked out Huerter. He definitely would be a player that firs in seamlessly in the Nets’ rotation due to his shooting, size, and playmaking ability. He compares pretty well to Joe Harris, a bigger pure shooter with an ability to attack. (Sorry for the white dude-white dude comparison.) A few weeks ago, Huerter was a mid-second round prospect. But due to a strong combine and impressive workouts, he’s risen. Huerter reportedly seems to have gained size as well during the pre-draft process. There are rumors that he has a first round promise, with Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated pointing to the Utah Jazz, who have the 21st pick. Huerter has impressed enough to earn a promise. Would the Nets be willing to move up in the draft to take him earlier than 21?
Chandler Hutchison, Wing, Boise State (CMP: 22.00)
Although a senior, Hutchison’s two-way potential has pushed him into the first round. The first thing to notice about Hutchison’s game is the way he moves on the floor. He glides. He gets to the rim quickly in transition and can blow by defenders in the halfcourt. Hutchison is a late-blooming prospect who recently added a three-point shot to his game. At Boise State, Hutchison was tasked with carrying a majority of the offense, so he has comfort in all facets of playmaking. His passing is above average for a wing player, using his speed not only to set up his own shot, but to set up his teammates as well. Hutchison was also a solid rebounder and defender in his time at Boise State. On the defensive end, his lateral quickness and solid motor project well for multiple positions. His ability to create on offense and defend is a big factor in his current ranking on draft boars.
While Hutchison was a do-it-all wing for Boise State this past season, his NBA role could be much different. Many scouting reports point to a reduced role for Hutchison in the NBA, suggesting him as more of a complementary role player, rather than a feature player. One thing to watch for Hutchison as a pro is how he handles a reduced, lower usage role. There are reasons for his predicted smaller role. Hutchison’s ballhandling isn’t too advanced, despite his speed. Because his shooting came along later in his college career, he’ll need to expand how he gets his shot off and be more than just a standstill shooter. And he’s 22 years old.
The Nets have been linked to Hutchison, with their interest in him dating back to at least December (from my NetsDaily reading memory). Hutchison’s positional versatility would be a solid fit with the Nets. Hutchinson’s ballhandling and attacking ability would likely blossom under Kenny Atkinson. However, there’s a catch. Hutchison – reportedly – has a promise with the Chicago Bulls at pick 22. Again, if the Nets decide to move up, they could elect to draft Hutchison before 22. He’ll likely be ready to play right away. But it will be interesting to see how he improves as an older prospect and fits in as a role player.
Aaron Holiday, Guard, UCLA (CMP: 22.50)
The youngest Holiday can get buckets. (What is the most recent national Holiday anyway?) Playing in an uptempo UCLA system, Holiday thrived. He scored a lot and efficiently, converting 42.9% of his threes last season. He plays with a bit of bounce, with really nice ballhandling ability to create separation and get past defenders. Holiday’s jumper is quick, and he ‘s not afraid to pull up from three off of a crossover. Attacking the rim, Holiday can finish with both hands effectively. He’s a solid playmaker for his position, but will likely see the most success scoring and creating for himself. In a spread system, Holiday would thrive in reading rotations and finding teammates along the perimeter. As a defender, Holiday’s plus-plus wingspan (6’8”) makes him one of the better point guard prospects for switching schemes. That also bodes well for him playing the passing lanes as well. Additionally, Holiday played 38 minutes per game for UCLA, showing that he can handle a large share of the offensive responsibilities.
Holiday’s offense may need a little bit more control. He averaged 3.79 turnovers, which is a big number, even in UCLA’s hyperactive system. Some of those turnovers came simply from rushing things. He would force passes on offense, and would sometimes over-dribble, leading to the defense clamping down on him. Holiday also has a tendency to play a little too selfishly at times, forcing up low percentage shots. On the defensive end, Holiday sometimes plays a little undisciplined, which could lead to fouls and breakdowns. The key word for Holiday is control.
“Holiday” is probably my favorite Madonna song, and my second favorite song off of Green Day’s American Idiot. Aaron Holiday may be the best bucket getting guard outside of the lottery, next to Elie Okobo. His length projects well for the switch happy Nets, even though he’s a little undersized. Holiday’s trademark skill, his shooting, can come from inside or outside a motion system like Brooklyn’s. Holiday projects well as a sixth man scoring guard and spot starter. His current draft rankings have him right in the Nets’ (current) sweet spot at 29.
Melvin Frazier, Wing, Tulane (CMP: 27.25)
Frazier screams solid pick. A lanky 6’6” with a 7’2” wingspan, Frazier could be an active, versatile defender, first and foremost. He’s active in the passing lanes and opportunistic in stripping ballhandlers. He’s quick and rangy enough to defend at least four positions adequately, which is a very marketable skill in today’s NBA (typed as I’m watching the Warriors play position-less in the NBA Finals.) His overall activity on defense is the most enticing thing about his game so far. On the offensive end, Frazier’s activity running the floor and finishing broken plays is where he’ll likely succeed at first. Frazier has a good looking shot (sometimes), but it’s only a recent development in his game. He shot pretty well this season at 38.5%, and showed some semblance of a jumper off of the dribble. Frazier also showed some really nice vision finding his teammates, with a flashy pass or two sprinkled in his game film.
Here’s the thing. Frazier played at Tulane, not exactly a college basketball hotbed. (I’m more familiar with the masters programs at Tulane School of Medicine than I am with their basketball tradition.) Against weaker competition, he didn’t truly dominate, posting respectable, but not truly impressive numbers. While Frazier’s jumper is improving, he’ll need to prove his ability to knock down the three consistently to be a true “3-and-D” player. The overall mechanics of his jumper look good sometimes, but other times it’s a mess. While he may not be tasked with ballhandling that much at the pro level, he’ll need to tighten up his handle and passing a bit if he wants to attack closeouts effectively.
Frazier, at the very least, will be a solid defender on and off-ball. He’ll be versatile, active, and athletic against NBA competition. Offensively, he’s more of a wild card. His rate of improvement in three years at Tulane does show that he still has room to grow. That could be a point of interest for the Nets, who have no problem helping seemingly potential capped players expand their game even further. Although a bit of a sleeper pick, Melvin Frazier would be a solid pick for the Nets, helping them advance their position-less brand of defense.
Keita Bates-Diop, Wing, Ohio State (CMP: 27.00)
Bates-Diop has the endorsement of at least one Brooklyn Net. An Ohio State teammate during D’Angelo Russell’s one and done year, Bates-Diop has molded himself into one of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s draft. He’s essentially a big man in a wing player’s body. Like another hyphenated player, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Bates-Diop excels in the mid post, with smooth turnarounds, crafty drives and a bit of elusiveness. He’s a solid screen setter, and does pretty well diving after screens and cutting off ball. Bates-Diop is an improved shooter with range out to the three-point line. He does a little bit of everything, although his bread and butter is 18 feet and in. Bates-Diop is most intriguing on the defensive end. With a straight up gross 7’3” wingspan, KBD has the versatility to defend potentially four positions. He plays within himself on defense, never overextending or gambling too much. He’s comfortable guarding switches, but also hankering down (favorite verb) in the post as well. He has solid defensive instincts, and understands rebounding angles better than some Instagram models.
No, this was not a cut-and-paste of a Draymond Green scouting report. Bates-Diop’s biggest questions lie with his motor. He’s a very lanky 6’8”, and may need some bulk on his frame in order to play the 4 or small ball 5. A decent athlete, Bates-Diop will likely thrive in the Moreyball zones, rather than creating offense for himself off of the bounce. He successfully guarded smaller players at the collegiate level, but may have his issues with NBA speed. Bates-Diop does have solid lateral quickness and length to possibly negate those fears, though. He may need to quicken his release in the midst of longer arms and quicker closeouts. He also has a little bit of an inconsistent streak, but that may be due to playing a bigger role at (The) Ohio State. He’ll likely be a complementary player as a pro, rather than a team’s centerpiece.
Bates-Diop does it all – pretty well. While D’Angelo Russell’s comparison of his former teammate to Kawhi Leonard may be a little bit of well-wishing, Bates-Diop could be a very good high level role player. His own understanding of his game is his biggest strength, indicating a mature player that could gel with any system. Bates-Diop, while not a true stretch forward, would likely be an upgrade over any of the Nets’ bench bigs, with a more Nets-y skillset on both ends. But of course, Bates-Diop is a safe bet, rather than a high ceiling player. For a mid-first round prospect, Bates-Diop is a player whose role can shape shift depending on the situation he ends up in.
Be sure to follow me on twitter, @ignisyon for previews of profiles to come!
Later today: Safe Bets, Part 2