The NBA Draft is closer than you think. For the players who are going to be picked, well, it probably feels like three lifetimes away. Still, those players are going to be poked, prodded and criticized until they hear their names announced by David Stern or the deputy commissioner.
Many of the players have glaring holes in their games, but do bring enough to the table to possibly make the roster. Yet, there is some who have the potential to be more than just a warm body on a team’s bench.
That brings us to former Illinois Fighting Illini star, Brandon Paul. Paul is not one of those fancy early entry players, but rather one of the rare seniors who are likely to be picked in the first-round of this year’s draft. Even with that, Paul does have some issues in his game that need to be addressed to assure him a spot in the first-round as well as a long career playing in the league.
Paul was known in college as a prolific scorer. While that may be true, it was not because he shot lights-out. The guard shot an underwhelming 40 percent from the floor and even more troubling 32.5 percent from beyond the arc. Considering Paul relied so much on the three-ball, it is clear he needs to improve on those numbers if he wants to be an NBA baller for an extended period of time.
Luckily for Paul, though, he is a super-athlete that can provide tough defense through his athletic feats and use it to be an energetic dynamo on the offensive end. Another giant plus on his side heading into the draft is his obvious ability to improve as a player. In nearly every statistical category that matters, Paul has shown vast improvement, although he still needs to handle the ball better as his turnover to assist ratio is not really great.
Despite being a senior, Paul still looks like he has not reached his ceiling. Factoring in his athletic abilities coupled with his seemingly endless potential, it is making him an interesting prospect to keep an eye out for. If he were to improve in the consistency in which he puts the ball in the basket, who knows.
One more quick side note on Paul. He is a 6’4″ two-guard. Meaning, he is very lucky that he is athletic, but teams may be wary of taking him early because of his said size. If he demonstrates an improved jumper in workouts he can go in the middle-to-end section of the first-round. Without showing any more improvement, it is possible that his size and a possible ill-informed lack of potential could push him to the second. I guess it really depends if the scouts still think he can improve more.
If I were grading Paul’s chances of being in the NBA a longtime, he would get a passable grade. Personally, I think he could be in the league for a decade and that is without vastly improving his jumper, but relying on the aforementioned athleticism to play defense and spark offense. To be fair, though, I also don’t see him as a starter or an impact player, but far more as an end of rotation type of guy.
Could I be wrong? You bet. Luckily for me I don’t have to make the decision to draft him or not. Only time will tell if taking Paul — anywhere — in the NBA Draft will prove to be a worthwhile decision.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone