Not all NBA players are discovered early as many names like Kris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, and Draymond Green didn’t get picked until the second round of the draft, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go on to have successful careers. This article points out 3 players who can contribute in this league.
Carsen Edwards (33rd pick Boston Celtics):
It is an understatement to say that shooting 3s is important in today’s NBA. Edward’s knows a thing about shooting as he attempted a ridiculous 10.6 3s per game making 35.6% of them. Edwards was Purdue’s whole offense and his range extended well beyond the 3 point line. In the NCAA tounament, Edwards displayed his biggest strength on the biggest stage shooting 45.9% from 3 while making a tournament record 28 3s in only 4 games. He shot it off the catch, off a screen, and off the dribble as he was practically unguardable. Now we have seen players like Jimmer Ferdette and Shabazz Napier go off in the tournament, but then turn out to be busts. Carsen Edwards can break that cycle, because he can get off his shot in so many different ways. Edwards won’t do much else besides shooting, but in today’s game, there is so much value in that. Edwards is undersized at 6’1 but has a 6’6 wingspan and in Brad Steven’s system, he won’t be a liability defensively. Steven’s has made it work with Isaiah Thomas, who was smaller than Edwards, and they were still a very good defensive team. He is not Steph Curry, but having someone that’s that talented from 3 off a team’s bench could be very useful.
Bruno Fernando (34th pick Atlanta Hawks):
Fernando is not your typical American prospect who was highly recruited and was invited to all these camps. Bruno has had a long road to get to this point as there is a great article on him by Don Markus(https://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/terps/bs-sp-maryland-bruno-fernando-nba-0619-story.html) talking about his journey to make it to the NBA. Bruno is a guy that is very self motivated as after his first year at Maryland, he could have put his name in the draft, but he knew going back to school would be best for his development. Bruno has great self awareness and holds himself to his own standards. Fernando is projected to be a center in the NBA at 6’10 which is a little undersized, but has a 7’4 wingspan to make up for it. Fernando has an old-school type feel to his game because he is tough, physical, and plays with an edge. He should be a very solid shot blocker as he is very active around the rim defensively, but will have to learn to be at the right place at the right time. On offense, he will be a lob threat in the pick and roll with Trey Young and he has a good drop step if a smaller guard switches onto him. Fernando is also a team first player. At Maryland, they played through him, but he was still humble and made the right plays whether it was him sealing his man under the rim for a guard to drive and score or if he passed the ball from the block to an open shooter. In addition, Bruno shot 77.8% from the free throw line in his 2nd year, but shot 3/10 the whole season from 3. I do see a potential jumpshot in his game, because he has a very fluid stroke. My main concern is his ability to play in space offensively. I think he can eventually, but when he did play on the perimeter, he definitely looked raw. However, his coach at Maryland said Fernando can absolutely play in space offensively, but in the limited sample size when he was on the perimeter, he did not look comforterable with the ball in his hands and would make poor decisions. Fernando will become better at this eventually, but it will take time. Bruno Fernando has been underestimated his whole life, but now he is the first Angolan to make the NBA and I expect him to make the most of it.
Isaiah Roby (45th pick Dallas Mavericks):
Isaiah Roby is a 6’8 PF from Nebraska that was a late riser in the draft. Roby is 21 years old. He played 3 seasons at Nebraska and never lit up the box score as he only averaged 11.8 ppg in his final season. The reason why he will succeed though is that his game will fit the modern NBA better than the college game. Roby is specifically a role player, not a star. He is going to play hard and find ways to be active. What I mean by this is that Roby was a very versatile defender as he averaged 1.3 spg as well as 1.9 bpg. He was a good team defender and will be very versatile in the NBA as he has a 7’1 wingspan and good lateral quickness to switch. On offense, Roby is comfortable playing in space, but has to improve as a shooter off the catch. Roby’s mechanics look good with a high release point, but he would take unnecessary dribbles to get into his shot. In the NBA, you have to be able to play and think quickly. With the Mavericks though, they have a good track record of finding these role players and developing them. Expect Roby to be a better NBA player than a college player as today’s game fits his biggest strength; versatility.
Nicolas Claxton (31st pick Brooklyn Nets):
Claxton spent 2 years at Georgia, but is still a very raw prospect. He is practically 7’0 tall with an almost 7’2 wingspan. Nicolas Claxton is a very unique prospect as he is very thin at 215 lbs., relatively young at 20 years old, and can move very well for someone his size. Claxton is incredibly comfortable in space and he has impressive handles as well. If he grabs a rebound, he can start the break himself. This is a trait that is unique for someone his size and could be very valuable in today’s game. Additionally, he was a great rim protector averaging 2.5 bpg. Claxton knew when to rotate and used his length to disrupt shots. Despite all this, his jump shot is a little unnatural as his feet aren’t squared to the hoop so he definitely has a lot of work to do there as he only shot 18/64, which is only 28.1%, this past year. Claxton is not always the best decision maker as well. He can get tunnel vision or overdribble at times, but he does seem coachable if you hear him in an interview or his coach from Georgia talk about him. This is one situation that I would have liked to have seen Claxton gone elsewhere as Brooklyn is getting rid of the rebuild and trying to win now and Claxton isn’t ready. It would have been best if Nicolas Claxton was drafted by a team in a rebuilding stage and would be patient with him, because there is talent there, but I don’t know if his talents will be maximized in Brooklyn.
Article written by Bradley Patten
All player measurements found on NBA.com (https://stats.nba.com/draft/combine-anthro/)
All stats found on Sports-Reference (https://www.sports-reference.com)
Photo Credit to Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images