The first thing I notice with him is his FT rate. Davis has one of the lowest FTr of any big prospect of the last 5 years. And the guys lower than him are a few stretch bigs like Erik Murphy and Grant Jarrett.
Maybe some people think that suggests he is soft. That's not where I am with him. He fights on the O-glass and I think he tries to draw fouls. But I think it says a lot about his feel for the game and skill level. The fact that he, even for a big, has zero handle. The fact that every move he makes is the most obvious possible move. The fact that he never does anything to fake out his opponent. The fact that he only ever finishes with his right hand. He cannot draw fouls because his defender is never off balance.
DX described him as a late bloomer. I am afraid he has many of the indications of one. I have noticed late bloomers tend to have poor feel for the game, and I have also noticed this does not seem to be something that gets much better over time.
Maybe Davis is a bit different though. One thing I noticed with him is how much his assist rate improved over the course of the season. When people first began talking about him as a great prospect, I recall his assist rate being very poor even for his position. This changed pretty dramatically and in conference games he averaged 2.2 assists per40. That is very good for a center prospect. It is the same rate as Mason Plumlee had his senior year, and nearly as good as Gorgui Dieng's his final year in school.
The last point I want to make is about character. I don't know if Davis will become a good basketball player in the NBA, but I think he might be a pretty good person. There was a telling moment in one of his games where MSU was up by about a million or so on Southwest Underwater Florida Miskatonic University or whatever. An opposing guard tried to lay the ball in and Davis stuffed him at the rim sending him sprawling to the floor. MSU began a fastbreak, but Davis stayed behind to help the fallen guard up. I liked that a lot. It showed me that Davis, even in the heat of competition, has some perspective.
CEILING: Andris Biedrins (the three years when he was really good)
MEZZANINE: Samuel Dalembert
FLOOR: Adonal Foyle
Somebody really taught this guy how to play basketball.
But.... While he can pull off some fairly amazing dribbling maneuvers, he really can't get to the rim very much. I like how much he moves on offense. You don't see him standing around very often.
The shot is a point of contention. Imagine a wing who shot 28.8% from three, took 3.5 threes every 40 minutes, and shot 75% from the line. Wouldn't we say, "That guy can't really shoot right now"? Well those are Ellenson's numbers, so why do we say Ellenson is a stretch big?
The defense. He does a lot of things correctly but he doesn't have the tools to pull the moves off. You'll see him close out on a shooter and doing a very good job chopping his feet... only to look on as that shooter blows right past him into the lane. One thing that would make me feel better is if he were stronger. He's weaker than you would expect given his thick physique.
He's the sketch of an interesting player. I don't know how good or bad that is. He's young for sure but very unathletic.
Ellenson is really hard to find comps for, partially because there are not that many big guys who have an AST% over 10 and I very much believe that, if nothing else, Ellenson will be a good passer in the NBA. He is really comfortable with the ball, always keeps his head up, and makes really quick decisions. I think the team he is on is going to determine his career quite a bit as many teams do not care much whether their bigs can pass.
CEILING: Spencer Hawes
MEZZANINE: Jon Leuer
FLOOR: Trey Thompkins
It is interesting that Taurean Prince's draft stock has skyrocketed over the past 15 months when he had what was in many ways a disappointing follow up to his junior season, and his team lost to Yale in the first round of the tournament. I guess it's because there are so many things about him where you say, "If he gets just a little bit better at this he could be really good". Personally I go back and forth on him.
Prince is pretty huge for a wing, both long and powerfully built. He has long strides, decent explosiveness, decent fluidity, decent quickness.... seriously every single thing about this guy is "decent".
Except his handle. So many of his ideas in passing and shot creation get subverted by his handle. In open court he reminds me of Al-Faroq Aminu running a break. It's scary stuff. It is remarkable that he was a point guard in high school back when he was 5'8''. You might guess that from his court vision, but you would not from his handle. The only move he has is a bad crossover. His handle is the reason why he cannot beat people off the dribble and get all the way to the rim. The ball slows him down so, so much.
What separates Prince from a lot of other "do-shit" guys is that he is a good shooter. He might be the most underrated shooter in the draft. The last two years he has shot over 6 threes per40 and made about 38% of them. And not just in spot up situations, either. He takes and makes a lot of tough three pointers. He takes a lot curling off screens, which really surprised me. He also took more unassisted threes this year than Denzel Valentine, Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley, or Brandon Ingram. Perhaps relatedly, Baylor's guards were really, really bad.
The other thing I like about Prince is his motor. He has strong offensive rebound, steal, and block numbers; but he also had a very high USG% this year. I really appreciate that kind of assertiveness. I think guys like Prince will need that to carve out a role on an NBA team. I also think talent evaluators appreciate not having to spend three years wondering if, maybe, so-and-so isn't just lacking in confidence or whatever.
CEILING: Demarre Carroll
MEZZANINE: Robert Covington
FLOOR: Eric Williams
A rigidly left-handed post player. Sabonis shoots left in the post even when turning over his left shoulder. But at least in college he is so strong and crafty and has such great body control (by far his best physical attribute) that it's like a Ginobili thing where everyone knows he is going left and yet no one can stop him.
Most of what is good about him on offense from a pro perspective is here only in seed form. Like, there's a little bit of a handle here that could become something good, and a little bit of a jumper that might turn into something. His lack of length and size for the center position (which is what I think he will have to play, at least until his jumper matures, if it ever does) make it difficult to feel very confident in his post game, in spite of his obvious facility in there. His passing looks pretty nice though.
The key with him is defense. He's a sophomore center who averaged a combined 1.9 steals and blocks in the WCC. Look, I love Chuck Hayes. Chuck Hayes is one of the players who turned me on to adjusted plus-minus stats. But if you're telling me there's this center who you think is going to be a good pro defender in a more ground bound, unconventionally rim protecting sort of way, then he has to get steals. He just has to.
I get what people are seeing with his defense. He has lots of plays where he defends the PnR well. And I saw many plays where he did a good job on a perimeter player in isolation, baiting the guy into a contested 2pt jumper. But if you cannot get even 1 steal every 40 minutes in the WCC, then I do not see how you have the physical and cognitive tools to be a good spatial defender in the pros. I guess he got 1.2 per40 over 35 games for Malaga in Spain when he was 18. So there's that.
People might compare him to Motiejunas defensively. Motiejunas had a career high DRPM of +1.13 last year, which was good for 27th in the league among power forwards. So that's not very impressive. And Sabonis is smaller and has way worse steal numbers than Motiejunas had in Europe.
CEILING: David Lee
MEZZANINE: Nick Collison
FLOOR: Vitaly Potapenko
As strange as it is to say about a guy who just shot 33% from three for a season, Jackson's 3pt shot might be his most NBA ready skill. He took a lot of threes from very deep range and seemed quite comfortable doing so. His other elite skill is his body control and his strength whilst airborne. He does some really impressive things while spinning.
His facilitating is pretty weak. He's a slow PnR player. Lots of ideas he notices too late so he has to run the PnR over again. The idea is not always there next time around. He doesn't appear to get the "layers" of the game, only the first defensive "shell" around him. Also for a guy who ran one of the best offenses in the country I don't think he got his teammates easy baskets very often.
However: Notre Dame played at one of the slowest paces in the country. How did that effect Jackson?
On the other hand: I think Notre Dame played a pro-style 4-out-1-in offense. At any rate it seemed like Jackson ran into a hollow lane for a dunk quite a bit. It is cool he can dunk, but maybe the little boost we sometimes intellectually give to college drivers/slashers when they move to the more open NBA game doesn't apply so much to him.
He looks so small out there. I'm shocked he measured 6'0'' in socks at the combine.
He is bad defensively. Noticeably bad fighting through screens, on and off ball. Totally off topic, but Notre Dame was 305th out of 351 teams defensively per sports-reference.com. They weren't quite that bad because their schedule was very hard, but still.
CEILING: Nate Robinson
MEZZANINE: JJ Barea
FLOOR: Mike Wilks, maybe Isaiah Canaan if he's not a PG at all
Stats will either be from hoop-math.com or DX.com or sports-reference.com.