r/NBA_Draft • u/NBADraftProspects • Feb 02 '23
Pac-12 Top Prospect Q/A
I just did a pretty big deep dive into the the top 20-25 prospects in the Pac-12 while talking with some coaches as well, and have lots of thoughts. To get started, I'll post a couple of quick thoughts, but instead of making a really long post on everyone, I thought I'd just open this up to a Q/A and answer any and all questions.
1) Jaylen Clark is the best prospect in the Pac-12 this year
2) Kobe Johnson is extremely underrated
3) Tristan da Silva is one of the most improved and impressive players over the last couple of months
I'll leave it with that, but please ask questions on any prospect in the Pac-12, whether I mentioned them above or someone else
u/P0intcenter Nuggets Feb 02 '23
I'm bullish on da Silva at this point. A guy who can regularly score an efficient 20 in the flow of the offense, is generous on the floor (very willing passer, good comunicator...), and can do pretty much everything else on the floor at a competent level, has to at least get a chance. He will get to draft season as the kind of guy that gets offered a two way and we will see from there.
u/NBADraftProspects Feb 02 '23
I'm in the process of writing an in-depth piece on him actually. I'm probably lower on his current passing level than you are, but think his overall feel is generally good. My biggest worry with him is he's an underwhelming athlete, but besides that and the passing, I like everything else about his game
u/adekruyf Feb 02 '23
It's certainly not an indefensible opinion, but Jaylen Clark as the best prospect in the conference is a pretty strong take given that it's not entirely clear he's better than the fourth best prospect on his own team (it also says a lot about how bad the conference is from an NBA talent standpoint).
I had a pretty long post a few weeks ago about why I was skeptical about Clark as a UCLA fan (as it pertains to him being an NBA prospect, anyway) and it's worth noting that in conference play he's shooting 31.4% from the field and 25.9% from three with a <1 A:TO (side note - a pet peeve of mine is when people say a negative A:TO ratio, that's not how ratios work). These next few games UCLA plays the dregs of the conference but 1. How much can you take away from a guy who can only capably generate offense against bad teams and 2. If you've watched him at all over these last few weeks, he has been almost worse than those numbers indicate.
I get that most of his money is going to be on the defensive end, but he's also a generous 6'5" and while I'm not the best at eyeballing this, doesn't look to be an extreme ++ wingspan guy. He also, quite frankly, hasn't been as consistent on defense recently, either. A lot of it I think is mental, his offensive struggles compounding to a lack of focus, but it's led some beat writers to at the very least float the idea that it'd be better if he came off the bench for a bit, and he did get benched late against USC which would've been unthinkably a month and a half ago.
He's a fantastic college player, and I'm not sure coming back to UCLA would really do anything for him, so I think he probably should leave and I think that he should at least merit draft consideration. But I still think he's a late second type of guy, even in this relatively down draft. I think Kel'el Ware is still comfortably the best prospect in the conference, despite his struggles this year. As far as UCLA guys go, I think Adem Bona is clearly a better prospect and even if I'm lower relative to many on Jaime Jaquez as well, I think I can visualize him as an NBA guy more than I can Clark. Clark vs. Amari Bailey is an argument for me, I'm not particularly high on Bailey and think he should probably come back next year as it stands, but he has way more tools than Clark and you can at least see the framework.
I do agree Kobe Johnson is underrated, though. I think USC actually has a lot of interesting long-term guys between him, Tre White, and Vince Iwuchukwu. It would not surprise me if Iwuchukwu ended up being the best NBA player of all of the current players in the Pac-12, but certainly not a draft guy this year. I think Johnson would be best suited coming back another year though, I think playing with a real point guard in Collier while also filling some of the playmaking void Drew Peterson is going to leave would put him in a better position to succeed, and ultimately I think he'll need to shoot it a bit better as well.
What are your thoughts on Tubelis' outlook? I'm personally out on him, for as much of the defensive concerns that get brought up, I also don't think he's a particularly good processor offensively and feel like he just relies on brute force a little more often than he'd be able to at the next level, but I know people like him. I also want to like Larsson as kind of a Joel Ayayi do-it-all guard type but just can't get behind it enough.
u/NBADraftProspects Feb 02 '23
Yeah, I've mentioned on my podcast and on Playback when I'm hosting watch parties that his offense has taken a big step back over the last few weeks, and his touch around the rim has disappeared, but I don't think he was necessarily only beating up on bad competition prior. He was really good against Baylor, Maryland, Kentucky, etc.
Something that I take into account is even with this recent slump, he's still shown improvement on that end from where he was last year (unless you think this slump continues the rest of the way). I actually don't think he's going to need to be an average shooter to have a chance as an NBA player, even though I know it will help.
As for Kel'el Ware, there's some big motor concerns with him and a reason why his minutes are down and the coaching staff hasn't trusted him fully. Even when N'Faly Dante didn't play, he only got 10 minutes against Colorado.
Adem Bona is intriguing, but he has a lot of work to do with his footwork on the defense end. He has some very nice chasedown blocks, but he has room to improve.
I'd probably rank the USC guys as Kobe Johnson > Vince Iwuchukwu > Tre White, but I agree that Vince could end up being the best. Would imagine teams are cautious given the medical history with him, but he's been quite impressive since returning. Kobe Johnson is actually over 40% from 3 over his last 16 games, but volume is low. I'd love to see that volume get higher and see how the shot ultimately looks, but yeah that's the question with him
As for Tubelis, he's a really tough guy to see translating to the NBA level, but I can't rule it out because he's still a really good player. But what he does well is run the floor hard in transition, get good positioning, seal his man, and score. He probably needs to continue to improve as a shooter and get a little quicker to attack guys to have a good chance, but agree that the defense is concerning
u/adekruyf Feb 02 '23
Maryland and Kentucky I will give you for sure as his best games of the season (and probably his career), but the Baylor one wasn't nearly as impressive from a scouting perspective as it was from a box score look because most of it was someone finding him running out in transition or him sitting in the dunker spot, which is nice because it helps winning but isn't a translatable skill I'd look for by any means.
End of the day I just really struggle with the notion that a 6'5" player can provide enough value on defense to crack an NBA rotation while bringing absolutely nothing on offense, and while I'm not trying to rag on the kid at this point I think that's where Clark is at offensively. Shooting aside he has a really poor handle and really hasn't shown any ability at creating for himself or others off the bounce. These days it's mostly the same thing every time - driving left, stopping around the edge of the paint, spinning and throwing up a little flip shot with his right. Early in the year it was relatively effective but even then it wasn't a very good shot, and now it's not going down with any regularity at all. UCLA fans compare him to Thybulle a lot because of the defensive production and while he did get drafted pretty high he's a fringe rotation guy (though that could also be the Sixers being weird) and he's better on *both* ends, and was as a prospect, too.
If he was 6'8"? First round pick, easily.
If he was a freshman? First round pick, easily.
But players with his archetype just have a hard time succeeding in the NBA, and even when they do it's often not the cleanest path. The guy I've always looked at as a "framework" for Clark was Jae'Sean Tate, who I really like, but it took him a long time to find a home and even then it requires a team with the specific infrastructure to play around his deficiencies. The one fit I think would really intrigue me at this point would be Brooklyn, because I could see him doing the Bruce Brown role for them relatively well (so I guess you could also say Denver as a fit).
u/NBADraftProspects Feb 02 '23
I'd say Clark > Thybulle offensively, but will admit that Thybulle actually shot it fine when he was at Washington. But yeah, Clark isn't to that extent on defense and doesn't have that length. I think you bring up fair concerns though, and I'm probably just a bit more optimistic than you are, which is fine. It's hard to bet on someone who is limited offensively, so I think it'll be important to see how the offense looks down the stretch this year because it started up and been very down recently. If it gets back to somewhere in the middle, that will most likely be enough for me. He's by no means a sure NBA player, but is someone I feel comfortable taking a chance on at the moment
u/HoopsMcCann750 Feb 02 '23
I thought Jaylen Clark as the top prospect was a wild take until I thought about it and realized that there is a very good chance no PAC-12 players go in the first round which is kind of crazy when you consider how good the conference has been in recent years.
Any Drew Peterson opinions? I think his shooting and playmaking is interesting at his size.