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2023 NBA Draft: Scouting Overtime Elite | The Morning Dunk
Nathan Grubel takes a look at the Overtime Elite’s Jazian Gortman, Bryce Griggs, and Jaylen Martin to break down why the OTE prospects shouldn’t be overlooked.
Now that the college basketball season is over, it’s a great time to pivot back to prospects who weren’t competing at universities across the country.
What better way to dive into the depth of the class than with an organization that has its roots in a great area for prep talent in Overtime Elite?
Each time I flip on one of the OTE League’s games, I come away surprised with the players I’m able to evaluate on a night-to-night basis. While the quality of the games may not quite be what scouts are used to versus college, there are a number of good-to-great prospects that battle for the league’s championship.
This past season, the City Reapers won the title for good reason: the best players captained their team in its biggest moments.
If you haven’t read the thorough breakdown and conversation done by Tyler Rucker and Corey Tulaba for No Ceilings, I have it linked here as it will give you all the information one could need on Amen and Ausar.
But what I want to do is take a look at some of the prospects that haven’t gotten as much buzz as the twins, yet are deserving of being scouted in their own right.
I had the chance to interview and speak with Bryce Griggs and Jaylen Martin, as well as review the tape on those gentlemen plus Jazian Gortman. Even though none of the three are flying up draft boards, I’d make an argument none of them should be overlooked as professional-caliber talent.
Dominick Barlow went undrafted last year coming out of Overtime Elite, and he’s found success with the Austin Spurs in the NBA’s G-League early on in his professional career. While he’s a different type of player with more clear physical tools and positional projection than this year’s group of non-lottery picks, there are alternative pathways to becoming a rotational player in the NBA.
And if I were an evaluator for any of those aforementioned pathways, IE the G-League or an international club, I would give all three of Griggs, Martin, and Gortman a long look as to whether or not they could help my team while also furthering their growth as players but most importantly young men. I was very impressed with the answers they gave in their interviews and the priorities they have as they continue to progress in their careers. Check out both of those interviews below if you haven’t already!
But with all of that being said, let’s break down each of their games and get into what they bring to the table now, as well as what they could possibly become for a professional organization in the long term.
*Statistics courtesy of Overtime Elite and Synergy Sports; percentiles are measured within the OTE League*
6’2”, 172 lbs.
26.9 MPG, 13.9 PPG, 4.8 REB, 3.9 AST, 2.5 STL, 45.3/32.9/80.8 Shooting Splits
If I were to venture a guess as to who NBA teams could be interested in the most out of this group of players, I would answer Jazian Gortman (affectionately nicknamed “JayGort”).
The talent is easy to see on tape. Gortman is one of the bounciest guards to evaluate in this 2023 draft class. He pops off the floor with one or two feet, and he can jam it home on opposing players. Gortman’s verticality at the guard spot is appealing because it really helps his finishing ability in traffic.
On the year, Gortman shot 45.3% from the field overall, but he did finish in the 52nd percentile in terms of scoring at the rim. The types of layups he can go to thanks to not only his hang time but also the way he’s able to turn and contort his body, help him to keep defenders guessing in terms of how he’s going to get the ball to go through the hoop. Not to mention, he can just flat-out get up and dunk.
And that’s an important point to take note of, as guards need to be a threat once they get two feet in the paint. Between his at-rim finishing, as well as his floater game, on which he was 5-for-9 for the year, Gortman has the requisite touch to get buckets in the halfcourt inside the arc.
What further helps Gortman get to his spots on the floor are both his first step and dynamic handle. Gortman’s combination moves, counters, and burst catch defenders off balance consistently, meaning he has avenues to either explode toward the rim or step into a pull-up jump shot. Rating much better on self-created jumpers as opposed to catch-and-shoot looks, Gortman’s balance and release point give him the tools to catch fire as a one-on-one shot maker. Within the OTE League, Gortman rated out in the 75th percentile on dribble jump shots and isolation buckets.
Being able to get his own shot from a variety of spots on the floor is a major plus when going up to a professional level, as guys who can create offense at a reasonable rate are needed to break down defenses and set up those who don’t have the same creation ability as a player like Gortman.
Any player who rates out that well on self-created shots, not to mention spot-up looks and transition finishes (88th and 68th percentiles respectively) deserves a chance at a professional job. Throw in his competitive spirit on the defensive end, where he has the quick hands (third in OTE in total steals) and feet to keep in front of other backcourt matchups, and there’s a projectable pathway forward for Gortman to make it to the NBA.
Where his case falls apart to an extent, and really why he hasn’t been seen on too many big boards, lies in his decision-making and pick-and-roll play.
Gortman’s pacing in ball screen offense isn’t always consistent. Reading multiple levels of the defense, timing his moves, and making the right pass are things he’s struggled with at higher volume. Sure, there are times when he times his step well after accepting the screen and creates the space needed to make a play. But that’s a part of his game that needs to be there for him possession after possession, and it can’t wane if he is to serve as a higher-usage primary ball-handler.
I wouldn’t call Gortman a BAD passer per se. There are a number of possessions I watched in which I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome from a passing perspective. But his vision doesn’t often extend enough past the most basic read in front of him which is easier for better defenses to key in on and take away. If that first pass is removed from the equation, Gortman has a habit of pulling the ball back out and sizing up his man for a tougher shot from the perimeter.
As I explained above, Gortman can make those types of shots, even contested. But is that the type of diet coaches want a player like Gortman to live on? Most likely, the answer is no.
Given that he doesn’t have the size and weight to play next to a more traditional lead guard and off the ball, it’s important for Gortman to have an identity as a playmaker, not just a scorer.
And without a projectable off-ball role, and better on-ball decision-making, Gortman’s case as a second round pick in the 2023 draft becomes a tad murky. Even if he isn’t selected though, there is a path forward as a lead guard off the bench for a pro team somewhere, as guys with his explosiveness, verticality, and setup ability can change the pace of a game at the drop of a hat with some exciting step-back shots and key steals to get his team out on the break.
I like Gortman more than I thought I would, and I may end up ranking him inside the Top 60 on my personal board. Regardless of whether an NBA team would agree with my evaluation, I’m confident he’ll get a chance to prove he has more to his game than we may have seen this past season with Overtime Elite.
6’6”, 196 lbs.
23.3 MPG, 14 PPG, 5.9 REB, 1.4 AST, 1.6 STL, 37.6/26.7/76.6 Shooting Splits
Jaylen Martin, another transition-focused wing in the 2023 draft class, has the type of bounce NBA teams love to see from off-ball threats.
Martin’s willingness and relentlessness to crash into the lane and convert on tough finishes is a great starting point for any slasher coming into the league. It’s one thing to be able to get downhill off the bounce, it’s another to have the mentality to go up and hunt for contact and opportunities in traffic.
“You’ve got to make a way, you can’t go in there soft or they’re going to block it for sure. You have to go in there knowing you’re going to dunk it, or float it, or finish strong for sure.”
Even though the efficiency numbers didn’t quite reflect a stronger case for Martin as a scorer, he did rate out in the 59th percentile in terms of converting looks at the basket. That level of touch, balance, and coordination similar to Gortman as to how he can lay the ball in from different angles and even finish through contact helps define a role for him on the court offensively at future professional levels.
And Martin is quicker with the ball than I initially gave him credit for coming into his deep dive. His decision to attack is instantaneous when he catches the ball. Martin knows where he’s going in terms of driving or shooting it from a standstill. While I would love for there to be more to Martin’s in-between game at this point (4th percentile on dribble jumpers), he has the speed with the ball in his hands and footwork to get to his spots closer to the rim and make something happen.
Speaking of touch, Martin is working to continue developing his floater game and hoping to make that a more prevalent part of his game moving forward.
“I’m starting to work on my touch shots, like my floaters, going each way left hand and right hand. You’re not going to be able to get to the basket every time, so you’ve got to work on your touch.”
Many would point to his lack of a jump shot being a detriment to his NBA outlook, and rightfully so. Wings who can’t shoot aren’t exactly locking down 20+ MPG roles in the league on a regular basis. And if they are, they’re amongst some of the best defenders in the world. Martin doesn’t quite reach that bar, but I also don’t have the impression that his jumper is broken. Martin rated out in the 47th percentile on catch-and-shoot looks this past season.
When Martin has a little time to set himself for a look off the catch, he can make shots from the corners. His shot prep in terms of his hand placement ready for the pass is good, but a few adjustments he could look to make are where he angles his feet on the catch, and where he ends his release on his jumper.
Martin tends to bring his right arm inwards as he releases up and towards the basket, which can throw the arc and direction of the shot off and lead to a miss. When he doesn’t bend his shooting arm in, he can make a jumper pretty cleanly so it’s not something that’s impossible for him to clean up.
Where I feel the most work is regarding his jumper is when he’s rushed, both off the catch or from a pull-up. Martin’s mechanics tend to go all over the place, both in how he lands on his feet as well as on his follow-through. Figuring out how to consistently incorporate the best parts of his shot into his routine when someone is closing out and contesting his jumper could improve his outlook as a scorer, not just a shooter.
Right now, teams could stand to live with him settling for tougher perimeter looks, but if Martin proves he can knock down a variety of shots away from the basket, it opens up opportunities for him to lean on some fakes and counters to create the driving lanes he loves to get downhill.
The good news is that Martin recognizes the criticisms present with his jump shot and is continuing to work at making the changes necessary to better adapt to the next level.
“That’s the biggest part [to working on the jump shot] is the consistency behind it. Working on catch-and-shoot off movement, coming off pin-downs, running off screens.”
Defensively, Martin takes pride on that side of the ball, not wanting opposing players to score on him, and it shows. He’s able to cover a lot of ground as a wing defender, both keeping up with players cutting off movement and staying in front of primary creators to contest shots. Martin did average 1.6 steals per contest, so he’s able to play passing lanes as well using his speed and length to force turnovers to get out on the break.
And most importantly, playing good defense actually plays into Martin’s greatest strengths and comforts as an offensive player, which is the transition game. He fills lanes well and can finish plays in multiple ways, so anything he can do to help himself in that regard be it creating new possessions off defensive rebounds or creating havoc as a playmaker can bring consistency to his role.
Even though Martin may not have the upside as a passer or table setter, and his role is better served as a play finisher, Martin has the physical tools and projectable outcome of earning a shot at playing in a professional league next season. Continuing to improve his jump shot from all levels, floater, positional awareness, and understanding off the ball on both ends will help to prepare him for a role at the next level.
Don’t completely rule out Martin as being a sleeper in this class who ends up making his way to the G-League just like Barlow before him.
6’2”, 205 lbs.
34.4 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 5.6 REB, 7.9 AST, 2.2 STL, 40.4/24.5/64.2 Shooting Splits
Last but not least, the one player who impressed me the most when I was down in Atlanta to see Overtime Elite in person.
Bryce Griggs doesn’t seem to have a ton of supporters out front and center in the draft community, but consider me a fan of what he’s brought to the table for Cold Hearts.
For the year, Griggs’ production has been consistent in terms of making everyone else around him better. He led the OTE League in assists and averaged better than 16 PPG, meaning that he was consistently commandeering the offense well and putting his team in position to win.
Griggs isn’t overly explosive as a point guard, but he is shifty. He prides himself on his handle and ability to weave through traffic. That shows in his playmaking more so than his scoring, as he’s arguably the best live-dribble passer OTE has to offer outside of the Thompson twins.
I don’t always love the ball placement on his passes, but Griggs has the vision and creativity to excel at finding the roll man, or shooters from the corners or wings on kickouts. The timing on his passes is legit, and he knows how to throw defenders off balance to create windows. More importantly, he knows it’s a strength of his and likes to leverage his playmaking opportunities for the betterment of the team, especially when those teammates can help in return.
“I feel like I’ve always had elite court vision, because I’ve always played up and older. Just being [with OTE] I have a guy who can catch a lob, and hit a corner three. Those assists add up so just playing with great guys and finding them, being a true point guard playing with other great guys.
When I saw Griggs up close, I saw someone competitive who wouldn’t let his team lose. He stayed poised, made the smart play, and when he had to take a big shot he sure as hell made it. I love players who can take games into their own hands the RIGHT way, and Griggs gave me an up-close example of what that looks like.
His confidence in getting to his spots, knowing where he can be most effective, and having the willingness to act on the right reads if the defense commits to helping on him all add up to a fascinating case for a lead guard in the NBA.
But playing the point nowadays means more than just finding other guys for buckets of their own. In order to make defenses pay, Griggs has to score himself at an efficient level. This past year with Cold Hearts, that didn’t exactly happen.
Yes, he scored his fair share of points, but on poor efficiency from outside the arc, as well as the free-throw line. At 6’2”, it’s a tough sell for teams to buy into a higher volume, lower efficiency scorer from the guard spot.
Sometimes in evaluations, I will put less stock into the percentages and more into a player’s comfort level from certain spots on the floor. Griggs believes he can make any shot he looks at, so to an extent I can overlook certain numbers and buy into his craftiness playing out of pick-and-roll as well as in transition.
If Griggs shot better from the floor in terms of self-created looks and showed more translatability as a scorer, he would’ve already been ranked on my big board well before this exercise ESPECIALLY when throwing in the defense.
While he’s not the biggest guard, Griggs is tough as nails and competes at the point of attack. His hip work, feet, speed, and quick hands help him to make plays on the ball and give opposing ball handlers fits. His mentality to take a tough assignment and come away with the ball going the other way is apparent, as he takes pride in defending. Griggs told me that he wanted to buy into defense this season and that it’s helped take his game to another level.
“I wanted to come in and play defense this year because if I can do things on offense, why can’t I do them on defense? And it’s made my game easier, it’s helped my team and also my game.”
Griggs’ competitive spirit, leadership in terms of communicating with teammates as a point guard and uplifting his guys, and his poise and vision are all great intangibles to buy into. Throw in his speed, handle, and better physical build than given credit for, and his game becomes a sneaky good pitch as a second-round pick or undrafted free agent target.
When I think about guards who have succeeded that Griggs reminds me of, I see some Ish Smith in his game. A long-time floor general off the bench, Smith has played with pace throughout his career, knowing when to put pressure on the defense and when to better incorporate his teammates within the flow of the offense. Griggs is taller and bigger than Smith, and he has similar dribble moves and wiggle in the halfcourt.
If that’s the type of guard I can see Griggs developing into if more of the scoring package comes around, then I’m intrigued in terms of giving him a shot to succeed. It may take a few years outside of the NBA to bring along certain parts of his game, but if it all clicks I don’t see why he couldn’t become a legitimate bench contributor on a good NBA team.
Even if he doesn’t end up in the Top 60 of my personal board, I’d still keep an eye on him as an improving backcourt talent with a lot of heart, passion, and instinct to possibly play the game at a high level one day.