NBA Draft stock watch: Ja Morant’s talent (and flaws) on display at NCAA Tournament | NBA

The opening weekend of the NCAA Match might not have delivered the wild upsets we’re used to, but it surely did present loads of fascinating performances from prospects eligible for the 2019 NBA Draft.

It’s price spotlighting just a few of these from gamers who rank throughout our Big Board to see the way it affected their legendary draft inventory.  

NBA MOCK DRAFT: Full first-round breakdown


Ja Morant | Level | Murray State

Morant got here into the match as a consensus top-five prospect for June’s draft, so it’s no shock he delivered a pair of spectacular outings previous to Murray State’s exit. The 19-year-old tallied a triple-double within the Racers’ opening-round upset of Marquette earlier than delivering 28 factors, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in a loss to Florida State.

Towards the Golden Eagles, Morant’s court docket imaginative and prescient was on full show. He logged 16 assists, tying the second-highest single-game mark in NCAA Match historical past. Morant’s passing skill dietary supplements his offensive package deal properly. His deal with is elite, and as such, he’s ceaselessly capable of break down defenses and get into the lane. The flexibility to cross out of these conditions when defenses collapse is paramount.

His efficiency in opposition to Florida State was extra of a combined bag, nevertheless. Morant was capable of constantly join from past the arc, taking pictures 5-of-6 from deep, however he struggled on the inside in opposition to the Seminoles’ size and athleticism. He completed 3-of-10 on pictures on the rim and missed all 5 of his 2-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math.

The latter accentuates concern concerning Morant’s skill to attain within the midrange ought to groups funnel him towards shot blockers whereas taking away the surface shot with over and drop pick-and-roll coverages. He’s made simply 39.1 p.c of his 2-point jumpers this season, per Hoop-Math, and linked on a meager 10 of his 32 runner makes an attempt, per Synergy. These numbers monitor comparable struggles he had final season.

Morant nonetheless figures to be a high decide come June, and realistically, he ought to go within the high three relying on how a workforce feels about Duke’s R.J. Barrett. Nonetheless, he’s not with out his flaws. Morant had an opportunity to slip himself confidently into that No. 2 spot with an enormous NCAA Match efficiency, however he didn’t fairly get there.

Up subsequent: Morant’s season is completed. He’ll make his NBA Draft choice after which presumably put together to be chosen within the high 5 on draft evening.


Brandon Clarke | Large | Gonzaga

Clarke entered the NCAA Match because the No. 13 prospect on our NBA Draft Big Board, barely larger than the overall consensus on him. Nonetheless, after his spectacular efficiency in opposition to Baylor within the spherical of 32, there’s an argument he needs to be pushing into the highest 10. The 22-year-old completed with 36 factors, eight boards, 5 blocks, three assists and two steals in opposition to the Bears.

It’s well-known in draft circles that Clarke checks the containers in relation to piling up successful contributions outdoors of being a high-usage scorer. He’s averaging 12.1 rebounds, 4.Four blocks, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per 40 minutes this season. He has a future within the league as a flexible large man who can play the ability ahead spot in loads of conditions and the middle spot in closing lineups.

Exterior of the apparent age query — a sticking level in relation to projecting potential upside — maybe the most important subject plaguing Clarke is his lack of middle dimension mixed with an absence of taking pictures productiveness. He’s made simply six 3-pointers in three seasons and is a profession 61.Three p.c free throw shooter.

The Baylor recreation highlighted why some really feel extra optimistic about Clarke’s taking pictures projections. The Bears sometimes play a zone protection that gives loads of house to function within the midrange. Towards them, Clarke tried six 2-point jumpers and linked on 4 of them, per Hoop-Math. It’s an expression of an bettering contact that would level to potential taking pictures upside for a prospect who is essentially valued due to his supposedly excessive flooring.

Clarke might show to be an enchanting prospect to trace all through the draft course of. He’ll problem groups to find the place their perception in youth as an indication of potential intersects with the worth they place on manufacturing that contributes to successful basketball video games.

In fact, this presupposes Clarke lacks vital upside. His development since transferring to Gonzaga from San Jose State might recommend in any other case.  

Up subsequent: Clarke faces off in opposition to Florida State’s lengthy, athletic frontline on Thursday evening within the Candy 16.


Mfiondu Kabengele | Large | Florida State

Talking of the Seminoles, there might not have been a much bigger beneficiary over the course of opening weekend than Kabengele. The 6-10 large man was instrumental in serving to Florida State include Morant on the inside. He completed with three blocks whereas utilizing his prolonged wingspan as an efficient deterrent. He additionally didn’t look misplaced when switched onto the hard-to-contain level guard.

Offensively, Kabengele confirmed the total vary of his expertise. Over two video games, he shot 2-of-Three from behind the arc. Over a restricted pattern, he’s now made 38.2 p.c of his collegiate 3-point makes an attempt. Kabengele additionally dominated across the rim in opposition to the smaller frontlines of Vermont and Murray State, changing 10 of his 13 makes an attempt on the basket, per Hoop-Math.

As a 21-year-old sophomore, Kabengele has a chance to play himself into the primary spherical if he continues to shine throughout the the rest of the match and within the pre-draft course of.

Up subsequent: Kabengele has one other alternative to show himself within the Candy 16 in opposition to Gonzaga’s frontcourt of Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke, two first-round prospects.


Dedric Lawson | Large | Kansas

Lawson options right here for the polarizing nature of his NCAA Match performances, which replicate the overall scouting report on him. The 21-year-old adopted up a 25-point, 11-rebound outing in opposition to Northeastern within the opening spherical with 25 factors and 10 boards in a season-ending loss to Auburn. In doing so, he turned the primary participant since Blake Griffin in 2009 to place up 25 factors and 10 rebounds in back-to-back NCAA Match video games.

Whether or not Lawson may put up counting stats, particularly when he’s the main target of his workforce’s offensive assault, has by no means been the query. The 6-9 large man has all the time rated properly in statistical fashions because of his skill to stuff the stat sheet in areas bigs historically don’t, together with compiling assists, steals and 3-point makes.  

The issue underscored within the Auburn contest: Lawson can be one of many least athletic gamers within the 2019 NBA Draft ought to he select to declare. He struggled to maintain tempo in transition and did not include the Tigers’ ball display screen actions both when pressured to defend on the perimeter or when rotating again to his man. To have it occur on such an enormous stage solely magnifies his main concern.

NBA groups must decide on Lawson’s offensive worth in an effort to resolve whether or not his defensive shortcomings justify having him on the ground. There’s definitely a world the place Lawson capabilities as an offensive point of interest, flattening jumpers, attacking closeouts and facilitating for his teammates.

If he can’t be that, although, there’s an affordable likelihood his deficiencies on the opposite finish will outweigh his offensive upside, leaving his workforce open to explosions just like the one we noticed Auburn have in opposition to Kansas.

Up subsequent: Lawson faces an fascinating draft choice. He’s a probable second-round choice, but it surely’s not clear returning to highschool would supply him a lot upward mobility.


Talen Horton-Tucker | Wing | Iowa State

Horton-Tucker has spent a lot of the yr climbing up draft boards because of his youth and spectacular statistical profile. The 18-year-old is averaging 3.Four assists to 2.5 turnovers whereas posting 1.9 steals and blocks per 40 minutes. Nonetheless, in Iowa State’s opening-round loss to Ohio State, he was scarcely seen.

Horton-Tucker performed simply 15 minutes in opposition to the Buckeyes, ending with two factors, one rebound and a pair of turnovers. The teen wasn’t in foul hassle and appeared to catch a benching for poor shot choice within the second half. These selections replicate one thing constant from Horton-Tucker’s season-long profile: he likes to shoot, however he’s not excellent at it.

Regardless of making an attempt 6.7 3s per 40 minutes, Horton-Tucker shot simply 30.eight p.c from deep this season whereas making solely 62.5 p.c of his free throws. There aren’t a ton of causes to purchase him as a projectable NBA shooter at this level outdoors of blind religion in his youth and a perception within the skill to enhance him by way of a growth system.

Whereas that could be sufficient to get him chosen early on draft evening, his outing in opposition to Ohio State did little to quell present worries.

Up subsequent: Horton-Tucker will decide on his future.

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