*Author’s Note: Yes, I am aware that the NBA Draft was two months ago. I wrote this article before the NBA Draft, but I never posted (I didn’t think it was long enough… I have now realized how stupid that thought was; it is plenty long and well researched/written in my opinion). However, now that we are in the dog days of August, and I want to keep my streak alive, I decided to publish it. Also, watching the Olympic tournament has gotten me back into a basketball mood (and hopefully y’all), so I felt it was an appropriate time to post it. Enjoy!
Every year, there are players that are overlooked or underrated when it comes to the NBA Draft. Being the Draft Geek, and ridiculous college basketball watcher I am, I seek to find these prospects. Personally when I am looking at late 1st/2nd round players, I look if they possess certain skills that translate well to the NBA, or if they have some special quality. For example, my “favorite sleepers” last year were Cameron Payne (he is a special player) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (NBA defender). While many people believe that this NBA Draft class is weak, I still believe that there are some players that represent great value…
International prospects are always relative unknowns during Draft season, for me and many fans. Most of the players I formulate opinions on, I watched extensively in college. While I did not watch Juancho play live, I have familiarized myself with him by watching highlight videos, and reading informative articles. Standing at 6’9”, Hernangomez is a very intriguing Power Forward. The 20 year old Spanish international has a unique set of skills, that should translate well to the NBA. He has good height, and an NBA wingspan, with a relentless motor. He plays with absurd intensity on both ends of the floor. He crashes the glass with great effort, and while he struggles a bit on defense (physically and experience-based) his motor and work ethic should help him improve at that end. In terms of his offensive game, Juan is a very capable 3 point shooter. He will definitely need to be guarded beyond the arc in the NBA, and is also a very decent cutter and transition scorer. All of these skills should help him compete at the NBA level.
While all of the facts I just mentioned make me optimistic about his NBA future, nothing makes me more confident than his tremendous production in the Spanish Professional League. The ACB, which is the second best basketball league in the world, is very difficult to compete in, and is reluctant to play young players. Despite that, Juancho averaged over 10 points per game, and put up an unbelievable PER, given his age (2nd best in decade behind Nikola Mirotic). To make him even more interesting, his brother WIlly, was drafted early in the second round by the New York Knicks last year, and looks poised to be an NBA role player. I believe Juan Hernangomez belongs in this league and should be getting more lottery attention (instead of late 1st round).
I have a confession to make. I tend to have a “man crush” on prospects that can defend at a high level. Patrick McCaw fits that category. The 6’7” Sophomore SG is a remarkably interesting prospect. The UNLV man earned first team All-Defense in the Mountain West Conference to go along with 2nd team all-MWC overall. Long is the first word that comes to mind when looking at McCaw. He is a very smooth athlete with a long, tall body and long arms that help him contest shots on defense, and shoot over opponents on offense. In terms of his offensive game, McCaw is a very reliable 3 point shooter. He is also a relatively explosive athlete with really quick feet. While he is supremely thin and not very developed on offensive, McCaw still has great offensive potential due to his physical gifts. However, his greatest attributes rely on the defensive end of the floor. Not only does he provide defensive value with his athleticism and long arms, he has also mastered the mental side of defense. McCaw has great anticipation combined with a great attitude that enables him to provide constant effort. To paraphrase “Friday Night Lights”, “Great Feet. Long Arms. Awesome Defender.”