BY: MICHAEL MAXCY
Nassir Little 6-7 220lbs Small Forward North Carolina
Little is a very strong and athletic wing. He has a solid ready-made NBA body that will ease his transition at the next level. He likes to use his muscle and size to take advantage on smaller defenders.
Efficient down low
Little is the most effective when down low. He has a good post game for a wing player and seems to know how to use his body with his back to the basket as well. He moves well without the ball and cuts really well. Good finisher in the paint usually ending with a nice kiss off the glass or monster dunk.
He really excels in the open court. He runs the floor really well and finishes usually with a dunk. Very quick once he gets the ball in transition and explodes to the rim either drawing a foul or a thunderous jam.
Little has a terrific wingspan of 7 feet 2 inches. This helps him on the defensive end as he can deflect balls that lead to steals and easy baskets on the other end. Offensively he can get to alley-oops over defenders as well as chase down loose ball's.
While he shoots at 50 percent from the field, he shoots a mediocre 25 percent from three. His jumper looks fluid but he doesn't seem to get the results he needs. It's not too far off and scouts think he will be able to fix that in the pros.
Little has shown the ability to be a good one the ball defender. Where he struggles is with his help defense. He tends to be late on rotations and sometimes looks lost on switches. switching is big in the NBA and he will need to get better in that area.
As a wing, he will need to be better with decision making and passing the ball. Once he puts the ball on the floor, he really only looks to score and he will need to find cutters and shooters.
Many ate questioning North Carolina coach Roy Willians for not playing Little enough. He is tallying under 19 minutes a game, which seems surprising for such a high recruit. Williams claims he hasn't played well enough to be a starter and his defense has been bad. His lack of playing time makes me question how good he really was coming out of high school.
I think Little has the potential to be a two-way player similar to Leonard. They are relatively the same size, both touted as good on the ball defenders and neither had a good perimeter game entering the NBA. Obviously, it may take a bit for Little to become as good as Leonard, but he has all the tools to make that happen.
A projected top-five pick who has seen his stock drop recently. I still believe he doesn't fall out of the lottery and could potentially rise back into top 5 talk.
Written By: Michael Maxcy
Zion Wiliamson 6'7" Power Forward Duke
Stats: 20.9ppg, 9.5rpg, 2.4apg, 2.2spg, 1.9bpg, 67.9%fg, 28%3fg, 70.7%ft
We have all seen the highlights all over the sports channels of Zion and his insane dunks. He has become king of a phenomenon in the fact that he produces so many eye opening kind of plays. It is hard to believe a man his size can get so high and look so agile doing it. His extreme athletic prowess also is on display on the defensive end and they way he alters and blocks shots.
His ability to get to the rim and finish is so good. He attacks the rim strong and not many defenders are going to challenge his once he attacks the lane. His dunks get all the attention, but he can finish with a finger roll as well as a layup off the glass. Once he gets by his defender, not many are going to challenge his at the rim until he gets to the NBA.
A man as big as Zion should not be able to move his feet as well as he does. Williamson looks like he may be able to defend some wings as the next level, which makes him versatile on defense. He is also a good help defender and seems to be able to judge the pass and get the steal which leads to those monstrous dunks. If he can switch effectively, that's going to be a huge asset for him in the NBA.
Very Efficient Scorer
Being such a good finisher allows him to shoot at a high percentage. Williamson shoots 68% from the field but a whopping 74.8% from the two point variety. Sure a bunch of those are dunks, but he also as shown improvement in adding a little floater to his arsenal in the paint.
Once again his athleticism is on display on the glass. At almost ten boards a game, he leads Duke in rebounds. The crazy part is his 3.6 offensive rebounds a game. But his rebounds usually leads to fast break opportunity.
While Zion gets most of the Sportscenter highlights, he doesn't let it effect his game. He plays his game very efficiently while teammate RJ Barrett takes more shots than him. He also is a willing passer and will give the ball up when doubled.
While he shoots a high percentage, his perimeter game needs help. His jumper needs to improve and he really needs to improve his range. Her shoots 28% from three which is not good especially with the shorter college line. He is going to have to improve his outside shot, which will make him a deadly cover if he can prove he can make it.
What position is he going to play? So the NBA is going to a sort of position less style of basketball, but he is kind of stuck between a wing and a big man. He appears to be athletic enough to be a wing but a shorter version of a power forward. My guess is that depending on which team drafts him will determine where he plays.
He can get a little careless driving the lane. He turns the ball over at nearly two and a half a game, which seems too high for a player who is not a primary ball handler. If he can cut them down and not pick up too many offensive fouls, he will be even harder to guard.
NBA Comparison: Rodney Rogers
I understand Rogers is not a superstar talent, but his game and Williamson's are very comparable. Williamson is a 50 pound heavier and extremely more athletic version of Rogers. I think Williamson will be a much better player than Rogers, but no one as seen a player like this to compare him to.
Projection: Top 2
Well all indications are looking like Williamson will be the top pick in the draft. I still think RJ Barrett could challenge for top spot, but most teams are not gonna pass on a freaky athletic monster like Williamson.
BY: MICHAEL MAXCY
R.J. Barrett 6'7", 202lbs, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Duke
Explosive first step
Barrett has shown an explosive first step in getting to the rack. The lefty likes to put the ball on the floor and uses his quickness and agility to get by his defender. He uses a jab step to get his defender off guard which allows him to get to the rim effectively. He has also worked on his range from that jab step to keep the defender on his toes.
Barrett is best when he gets to the rim. He is so explosive off the dribble, he gets by his defender usually ending in a dunk. He also has shown the ability to fight through contact and finish with three point play opportunities.
Excels in open floor
This seems like an obvious strengths for most wings, but Barrett is so dangerous on the break, either leading it or from the wing position. He is such an unselfish and willing passer, which makes him so difficult to defend on the break. If teams see Barrett involved in a fast break, it is likely going to end in a Duke dunk.
An under rated aspect of his game is his defensive ability. He has long arms and is very good as causing deflections, which usually leads to a transition opportunity. His man defense is good and should translate well at the next level.
I already mentioned his passing ability on the break, but Barrett is so unselfish with the ball and is more than willing to give it up which shows at his nearly 4 assists a game. Barrett draws so much attention and likes to drive the lane and feed whichever big man is open or swing it out to the open three point shooter.
Three point shooting
Even though Barrett shoots a solid 46% for a wing, his perimeter shooting is not good at this point. His jumper needs some work as it doesn't look fluid. His form is good, but he fails to get the rotation on his jumper and pushes it instead of getting the proper release needed to make the shot.
Free throw shooting
Once again this all stems back to him not getting the spin on the ball. He shoots a weak 66% for a player who attacks the basket and gets to the line a bunch. I fully expect once he gets to the league he will improve his shot and hopefully raise the free throw percentage.
Needs to cut down on turnovers
Sometimes Barrett gets a little out of control with his passes or driving the lane. He needs to cut down on his errant passes and avoid getting charges as he barrels into the lane.
His game resembles Spurs swingman DeRozan a lot although Barrett is a lefty. I think he projects to be a better player than DeRozan, but the similarities in their game are so close. They measure out at almost the same at 6 foot 7 and just over 200 pounds. And like Barrett, DeRozan had a suspect jumper coming into the league and has improved that part of his game tremendously.
It is probably more like 1 or 2, but I see no way he slides out of top five barring a serious injury. Barrett was the consensus number 1 recruit out of high school and likely is fighting with teammate Zion Williamson for the chance to be the number 1 pick in June.
Michael Maxcy is a contributor for The Up&Under.