Weekend Update: Scouting Quick Hitters
A look at some standout performances from the weekend of December 4th
It’s Monday morning, and the last thing you all want is to sift through fluffy intro paragraphs and context. This isn’t an online recipe where you scroll page after page before getting to the pertinent sections. Let’s dive right into it and look at some of the better performances this past weekend from those players eligible and in contention for spots in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. - F, UW-Milwaukee
The performance of the weekend belongs to Patrick Baldwin Jr. at Milwaukee. In a battle of underachieving mid-majors, Baldwin took advantage of a Robert Morris team that zones them exclusively and went an astounding 6-6 from 3-point range. Yes, that included a turnaround taunt to the Robert Morris bench a la Steph Curry (as seen in the thumbnail below) after getting red hot in the first half.
Baldwin’s team is pretty poor, and their guard play means PBJ rarely gets set up with quality looks in the half-court. As a result, Baldwin does too much off the bounce and winds up showing worse than he should. Games like this are a fantastic reminder that he’s an elite jump shooting prospect and should be scouted as such. We still have him in our top-five and think he slips no farther than seventh.
JD Davison - PG, Alabama
If Baldwin had the best game, Alabama Crimson Tide guard JD Davison did the most to help himself this weekend. Davison helped ‘Bama take down juggernaut Gonzaga in Seattle, going 4-6 from deep and scoring 20 points along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
The new-found shooting touch for Davison, a thought-to-be-weak spot in his game heading into the season, has helped resurrect his draft stock into the top parts of the lottery. In our opinion, he’s a top-ten guy when you combine the fact he’s shooting 38% from 3 and is the most physically gifted point guard in the class. At 6’3” and wildly athletic, there’s so much upside.
Our favorite play from the weekend: his anticipatory interception of an inbound save that led to a breakaway dunk.
Look, Alabama is a great spot for him because he plays on a big stage, the game is kept simple and the lane is as open there as anywhere else in the country. On the flip side, he does little PNR attacking and rarely operates with the ball in his hands. To us, that means there’s so much upside once he’d get positioned in his more natural role in the NBA. A freak athlete whose feel and IQ are impressive every time we see them, Davison is going to be tough to unseat from his current top-ten perch.
Jabari Smith - F, Auburn
At this point, it seems like Jabari Smith is a lock to stay in conversations for the top overall pick. Yes, he’s that damn good. The more games that pass, the more real the shooting becomes. Through 8 games, he’s 43.9% from 3 on over FIVE attempts per game… that’s a massive amount of attempts early on. Smith has great touch, replicable form and doesn’t have games where he goes super cold.
Combine that with his size, athleticism, defensive potential and pretty good handling and he’s the toolsiest player in this draft class. All of those tools were on display in limited minutes against Yale. Smith tallied 17 points and 7 rebounds in 21 minutes against the Bulldogs, including some violent dunks and really tough jumpers:
SEC competition will reveal more warts on his game, but this is as stellar of a start to a season as you could expect from the freshman. He’s not quite the focal point of an offense on high volume yet, but the flashes are certainly there.
Jaden Ivey - PG Purdue
Let’s get one thing straight: Jaden Ivey is a “point guard”. He’s better with the ball in his hands and, for any team he’d be on, it’s likely a role he can execute more convincingly than most of his teammates. If that isn’t a point guard in the 2021 NBA, I’m not sure what is.
Despite our certainty that he’s more Russell Westbrook than anything, Ivey’s development continues to be hinged upon his jump shot. While we’ve long been skeptical of the shot falling at high volumes and the mechanics holding up, it looks a lot smoother this year and he is more confident as a result. He’s now making 40% of his 3-pointers, even some on movement.
In Purdue’s win over Iowa this weekend, Ivey’s shot-making and transition scoring were on full display. He was the best player on the floor and is making a convincing case that he’s the best guard in college basketball.
The question is whether he’s the best guard prospect in college basketball, too. We tend to think the evidence is stacking up pretty convincingly in his favor. The natural gifts are too overwhelming and he continues to get better. In a draft class weak on elite guards, Ivey is the one guy who stands out consistently.
David Roddy - ATH, Colorado State
Welcome to our sleeper section of the article! It’s quite cozy here, so bring a blanket and your reading glasses.
David Roddy, who has led Niko Medvedev and the Colorado State Rams to a 9-0 record, is this year’s version of Anthony Lamb. Lamb, the former do-it-all wing at Vermont, was either a stocky lead guard or a 6’4” power forward, we still aren’t sure how to describe it. Regardless, he was a mismatch nightmare, a big body who torched smaller guards and simply an effective basketball player.
Roddy does the same. He feasts on contact inside, drills step-back jumpers on the perimeter and is competitive in everything he does. He’ll be the Rams late-clock option all year and should be taking them into the NCAA’s this season.
Roddy torched a very good St. Mary’s team. The unbeaten Rams now feature victories over the Gaels, Oral Roberts, Creighton and a solid Northeastern team. The next three games will be pivotal to watch for them, and for Roddy’s draft stock: Mississippi State, Tulsa and Alabama, all on neutral courts. If David plays well and the Rams snag a victory or two, he’ll be seen as a legitimate draft prospect.
Jonathan Davis - CG, Wisconsin
Standing 6’5” with a 6’10” wingspan, Davis looks the part as a big guard who can hold his own in the NBA. He’s a very good defender and a steals fiend, blocks shots frequently for a guard and is a solid passer.
The scoring leap Davis has taken for the Badgers this year, both out of necessity and improvement, has vaulted him into draftable territory. He’s averaging 20 per game, and capped off an impressive few games with a 25-point outing in a win over rival Marquette.
We still have concerns over the natural tools at his disposal. While long, Davis has a subpar first step, often relying on crafty finishes, step-backs or floaters off the bounce. His footwork leaves a lot to be desired from a consistency standpoint and he gets a lot of his points from backing down smaller guys a la Villanova style. Not always a successful venture in the NBA.
But Davis draws contact a fair amount, is a very consistent shooter and knows how to play. There’s a pro player in here, but we’re not quite ready to jump on the bandwagon to proclaim him draftable.